Like many students abroad, I would imagine, I did some translation work to help make ends meet when I was in Italy as a post-graduate student many moons ago. Almost half of the EESC’s staff are in the translation directorate or related functions and I suddenly realised that I had very little idea about what they were really doing – apart, that is, from what I knew from those far-off amateur experiences. So I asked the Director, Gonzalo, and the Deputy Director, Ineta, to organize a half-day visit for me and the scales fell from my eyes. Translation, when you have 22 languages, two Committees and two administrations, and a requirement for the greatest terminological exactitude, has to be done with all the precision, speed and efficiency of a watch factory. Imagine a series of rivulets flowing into streams that then become mighty rivers; that is a way of thinking of the translation requests that come from the EESC and its sister Committee. The rivers join at a confluence called, prosaically, ‘planning’, where a team of gifted and enthusiastic colleagues manage the workflow in such a way that everybody gets what they want when they need it, but they do more than that. Another set of colleagues explained to me about the Translators’ Work Bench and the contribution made by the ‘superusers’ (translators and assistants with excellent IT skills who act as localised helpdesks). And other colleagues explained about the Formatting Group. Then it was on to the Coordination Unit, where I spent far too much time because there were so many interesting things to discuss, and from there to a young and very able assistant in the Slovenian Unit, Robert, who showed me how the assistants deal with the workflow, and from there to an official in the Italian Unit, Giancarlo, who has himself developed (in his free time) an extraordinary piece of software to extract original documentation and references in all languages. By now, it felt more like a visit to a scientific laboratory! We’d run out of time and my return visit is already scheduled. In the meantime, thank you to everybody for a fascinating learning experience!
Less of this, please
Well, good try, SG.