European Day of Languages
Andrés Sanz Álvarez (English Dpt) IESVELÁZQUEZ (Sevilla) September , 26th. 2019
The European Union has one of the largest
interpreting services in the world. Interpreters play
an important role in ensuring effective
communication in this unique institution which
works every day in 24 languages.
The original official languages of the European Communities were the
four languages of the founding states: German, French, Dutch and
Italian. At that time there were 12 possible language combinations.
New languages were added with successive enlargements:
• 1973: English and Danish (plus Irish/Gaelic, but only for Ireland's act of accession and the basic texts), so 4 + 2 = 6 official
languages and 30 language combinations. 1981: Greece = 7 official languages and 42 language combinations. 1986: Spanish
and Portuguese = 9 official languages and 72 language combinations. 1995: Finnish and Swedish = 11 official languages and
110 language combinations. 2004: Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Czech, Slovak and Slovene = 20
official languages and 380 language combinations. 2007: Romanian, Bulgarian and Irish = 23 official languages and 506
language combinations. 2013: Croatian = 24 official languages and 552 language combinations.
• In addition to the official languages, the languages of the candidate countries are also very often used, as well as Russian,
Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, etc.
Interpreting enables Members of the European Union to
understand and communicate with each other
SCIC -The Directorate-General for Interpretation is the Commission’s
interpreting service and conference organiser. It allocates meeting
rooms and provides support for the smooth running of multilingual
An interpreter's language combination is made up of all their
passive and active languages.
• Active language: target language (the language the Members hear);
• Passive language: source language (the language the Members speak);
• Relay: indirect interpreting into the lesser used languages;
• Retour: also used for the lesser-used languages, where interpreters work
both into and out of their active language.
• An interpreter's language combination is made up of all their passive and
Profile of an interpreter
• Understanding of passive languages. Interpreters are professionals who must have
a perfect understanding of the language they are working from (passive language).
• Perfect command of active language.The active language is the interpreter's
working tool, so he or she must have a perfect command of it in order to be able to
express every nuance.
• Broad general knowledge and openness. Interpreters need to constantly update
their knowledge so as to be able to work on a very wide range of subjects.
• Adaptability. Interpreters encounter a variety of different situations and must be
able to interpret all types of discussion.
• They should be able to reproduce in the target language any type of speech,
whatever the subject, context, identity of the participants or location.
International Association of Conference
The InternationalAssociation of Conference
Interpreters is the only global association of
conference interpreters and brings
together over 3,000 professionals from
INTERPRETATION PRACTICE WITH ACTUAL PORTABLE EQUIPMENT
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