‘Let’s hear it for European translation.’ That was the message at a conference in Brussels aimed at showing how literary translation has helped consolidate an image of Europe as a whole of many splendoured parts.
The aim was largely to encourage more translations to help Europeans get to know each other better. It also looked at making official documents available in all the EU languages. Politicians need this at various levels, an MEP at the conference told Euronews. Vasco Graça Moura said: “It is indispensable that a European Parliament member express himself in his mother tongue, both to defend his voters’ interests best and also to discuss subjects.” The conference included authors, publishers, academics and literary critics, as well as theatre, cinema and music professionals. Working institutionally in so many languages, Europe spends one percent of its budget on translation and interpretation, or more than a billion euros per year. It even has a Commissioner for Multilingualism. Leonard Orban said translation symbolises opening up to what is different, and he put in a word for still further expansion of the EU’s language base, to include the Turkish-speaking minority of Cyprus: “We must lay the groundwork, be prepared for an enlargement of languages. Today we have 23 of them (…) not only linked to enlargement of the Union. Perhaps if a solution is found for the Cypriot question, we might have another language.”