Friday, 20 November 2009

The cost of translation

Bro McFerran, president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce,  delivered a wide-ranging speech last night at the organisation's annual banquet in Belfast City Hall.

He raised a number of issues about the economy and public expenditure and asked, 'Where is the cost benefit in Irish language and Ulster-Scots translations?  We're not anti-Irish or anti-Ulster-Scots - just anti-translation at great expense.'

I wonder how many people in Northern Ireland share his view, especially at a time when the cost of translations is increasing?  The increasing cost has been particularly evident in the case of Caitriona Ruane and the Department of Education, with endless unnecessary and unwanted translations into Irish.

A similar point was made in the Republic earlier this week by Michael Ring TD of Fine Gael who questioned the need for translating official government documents into Irish.  He said that 1.8m euro was spent last year translating English documents into Irish, which is the first official language in the Republic. 

The Official Languages Act, which provides a 'statutory framework for the delivery of services through the Irish language' was signed into Irish law in 2003 and in the six years since then central government and local authorities have spent 6m euro producing translated documents.  Michael Ring added that almost no one was buying them or using them and he asked if it was time for the act to be reviewed.

Of course Michael Ring is a TD for county Mayo, the birthplace of Caitriona Ruane, so clearly there is a difference of opinion in that county!

This is an issue to which I will return, in relation to both Irish and Ulster-Scots, but I simply want to note that it is an issue that is out now in the arena of public debate, north and south of the border.

1 comment:

  1. I think it is important to establish why the department of Education spent money on translating documents. There are many schools and students who deal with the department through Irish only, mainly because these schools are teaching the students through Irish. Alot of the translation is on exam papers, the papers are composed in English, then translated to Irish for the pupils, and sometimes the students exam papers may need to be translated to English to be marked. Is this really a waste? Of course I assume there are other translations made and these may yet be a waste, but I hope I have given food for thought.


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