EU language barrier "costing lives"

This article in the Guardian today tells us that

Doctors in some of the world’s poorest countries are being denied cheap life-saving drugs for patients because Brussels lacks enough linguists to translate a new patent law into the 20 languages of the European Union.

Now I can understand it is a complex process, but there are lots of reputable translation agencies out there that are perfectly able to handle such a project, and actually do it day in, day out. Why not involve one of them instead of delaying such an important piece of legislation? And anyway, didn’t EU officials realise that with 20 languages to deal with, it would be a good idea to put in place an efficient translation department able to ensure everything was going to work smoothly?

By | 2016-10-18T15:51:50+00:00 July 28th, 2004|Language|2 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Sonja Tomaskovic July 28, 2004 at 10:05 am

    Have you ever taken a look at how many translation departments the different EU bodies actually have? I can tell you, they have a lot of them. Nevertheless they are not able to handle all the work that has to be done. I can imagine that in the long run this will probably lead to a differentiation between “official languages” and “spoken languages”, and that official documents will only be translated into the official languages. I know that this is completely against EU’s policy of respecting all cultures and languages of all Member States, but as the EU grows bigger and bigger some sacrificies will probably have to be made. Not that I am supporting this… but I don’t actually see how they want to tackle all the work without such restrictions.

  2. TRANSLATOR'S BLOG July 29, 2004 at 12:34 pm

    The language problem in the EU

    In an article I found on the Translation Blog, according to an article in the Guardian Brussels is not able to translate a new patent law into all languages of the Member States of which there are currently 20.
    Indeed, this is a big issue and I don…

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