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The bitter reality of Basque Interpreters - Lurdes Auzmendi/Koldo Tapia


Data: 1994ko urtarrila

The bitter reality of Basque Interpreters - Lurdes Auzmendi/Koldo Tapia


In this article we analyse all types of prohlems and diffic ulties which interpreters of the Basque language face at this time, a profession which has existedfor very Jew years. Thus, the first congresses on Basque Interpreting were held at the heginning of the last decade in San Sehastian; the f irxt steps in simultaneous interpreting were taken in the faculty of Educational Seience and in the Provincial Court of San Sehastian, with Spanish and German as hasic languages. At a government level, interpreting hegan at the meetings of the General AssemPlies of Guip˙zcoa. The step from consecutive to simultaneous interpreting came quickly, as the latter was much more dynamic. Nevertheless, the real jump in quality arose as a result of the Basque World Congresx in 1987. As of that moment, Basque intelpreting went fi om heing used only on an official hasis (provincial councils. town halls, the universities. etc.) to appear also at different tvpes of congresses, even those privately ol ganised, although the majority of these are currently arranged under the auspices of the political institutiolis of the country. On Basque television, the opposite has happened, intelpreting having been reduced to a minimum.

Basque interpreting is, therefore becoming more and more important, and has led protessionals involled in this work to set the levels of excellence which they must strive to achieve in their work, as all Of them have gone from written to oral translation, with virtually no specialised training, and with a great deal of intuition and courage. In this sense, there have been several courses or seminars since 1987 organised hy the Government and hy the Association of Basque Translators itself.

With regard to the conditions under which interpreting in the Basque language is carried out, this is normally done in Basque and Spanish, so that it is necessaly to work in relays (listening to the translation into Spanish on another interpreter) when the speaker expresses him or herself h1 a different language. This poses, therefore, the need for extending the knowledge of the languages ot the interpreters themselves, as the Basque-speaking public which attends congresses in which other languages are used, tend to prefer to listen to the translation to Basque when the speaker expresses him or herself in Spanish.

Regarding the prohlems involved in this work, mention should be made of the fact that many lecturers, chairperson, etc. are not used to speaking thr ough interpreters, and usually speak too quickly with complex poorly structured language, etc., which makes the work of the interpreter really difficult.

On the other hand the work of Basque interpreters is not always taken into consideration by the speakerls themselves not by the public, and this leads us to believe that it fulfills a merely decoratile role. 7'his is the case of Basque politih ians, (although not exclusively theirs), who continue to use the Basque language even with the knowledge that their message can be received under more or less correc circustances by those listeners who do not speak Basque.

All these problen1s impede the improvement of interpreters themselves, which is clearly necessary, as they do not provide sufficient encouragement for them to make an effort to improve What is more both professional interpreters and the speakers themselves must share this task.