Newsletter December 2008
The year 2008 is drawing to a close; the towns and cities in Germany are aglow with pre-Christmas lights.
22 degrees south
The shortest day of the year is just ahead, when the sun is furthest away from us at 22 degrees latitude south. Myriads of tiny white Christmas lights more than compensate for the short days when the nights draw in. The Christmas markets in town entice us with the smell of Christmas goodies and mulled wine. Apart from the usual drizzle, Hamburg has managed to offer crisp, cold, sunny days and even a few snowflakes, much to everyonees delight.
Credit Crunch and the R word
For months now we have all been alarmed at the news from the global banking and stock market sectors. Statistics confirm that the German economy is in recession.
Like you, we are also wondering when and how the crisis will have an adverse effect on our business.
Our reaction can only be to maintain our consultancy service at the highest level in order to assist our clients to plan as effectively as possible. In difficult times we are faced with greater challenges, but at the same time there are opportunities to excel by showing more professionalism.
SIMCONSULT and translation services
In our previous newsletter this summer we wrote about translations. Although our key competence is still conference interpreting, we are constantly expanding our translation services in response to market requirements. This shows that our clients attach great importance to good translations that are not only accurate and are a true reflection of the content in the source language, but also read like original texts.
As we do with interpreting, we recruit from a pool of specialised translators who are known to us. The colleagues who translate for SIMCONSULT work exclusively into their native language and we concentrate as far as possible on languages we can judge ourselves. The circle of conference interpreters throughout the world is much smaller than the number of translators and most interpreters know each other. So if the need arises for more unusual languages, we use our network of interpreters to obtain references or recommendations before we recruit an interpreter unknown to us into the team. In the case of translations we also rely on our network for languages that are rarely called for and on such rare occasions we work on recommendations from our interpreter colleagues, many of whom are also translators. This ensures that we are always in a position to offer our clients a quality product.
The past six months were marked once more by many interesting interpreting assignments and conferences at various locations. A variety of languages were also spoken, for instance English Japanese for a company in Hamburg, interpreted by colleagues from the United Kingdom. English French was the language combination at a legal conference held at the University of Hamburg and German Italian was required for a banking meeting. We organised another meeting with German Turkish and one more event with German Turkish English.
It is not unusual that clients are particularly concerned about professional secrecy when placing an order and they may ask us to sign a declaration of confidentiality. Although every conference interpreter, epecially the members of AIIC, the International Association of Conference Interpreters, considers confidentiality to be one of the most important elements of professional ethics, we fully understand that secrecy is also high on the agenda of many of our clients. For a professional conference interpreter confidentiality starts with the mailing of documents whether in printed or in electronic form. It includes not only the content of the conference as such, but it also applies to any conversations outside the conference room and to the correct disposal of documents after the conference or deletion of customer files on the computer.
AIIC and professional secrecy
That confidentiality is our highest principle is underlined by the fact that at the AIIC world assembly which is held every three years and in January 2009 in Nice, an entire morning is devoted to a discussion on professional secrecy. After the debate a resolution on professional secrecy will be put to the vote, to emphasize the importance of the subject. Both SIMCONSULT partners will attend the Assembly in Nice.
As with many other professions, further education is part of the professional activities of the successful conference interpreter, in addition to careful preparation before each assignment. In the middle of November both SIMCONSULT partners, George Drummond and Susan Fergusson, attended a further training seminar at the European Court of Justice in Luxemburg.
The Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxemburg
The seminar was organised by the AIIC Committee on Court and Legal Interpreting of which George Drummond is a member. The event was held from Thursday morning until Saturday afternoon. It is a little-known fact that the Court of Justice of the European Communities comprises three fully independent courts, the Court of Justice being the oldest and the largest of the institutions. The other two are the Court of First Instance and the Civil Service Tribunal. We were very fortunate in that we were able to attend the public hearing of a case before the Court of Justice on Thursday morning on the sensitive subject of personal data protection. The language of the case was Dutch and many of the participants were given the opportunity to admire the highly professional skills of our colleagues in the booths.
At the courts in Luxemburg the language of the case is usually the language in which the national court refers the questions to the Court of Justice. Each of the 23 official languages of the European Union may be designated as the language of the case. The EU member states pleading in a particular case have the opportunity to plead in their own language. Pleadings in the case we witnessed were made in English, Czech and French in addition to the language of the case, Dutch. Other highlights of the seminar were the extremely interesting presentations by judges from the three courts, an advocate general, the chancellors from two of the three courts, as well as contributions and discussions on the special requirements for interpreters working at international courts and tribunals. As George Drummond and Susan Fergusson have been part of the core team of interpreters at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea since it was established in Hamburg in 1996, they were also able to contribute to the debate.
We come to the end of this newsletter and indeed to the end of 2008 with our very best wishes for the holidays and for a good start to the new year.
May we close by thanking our clients, business partners and colleagues for the cooperation we enjoyed once more in 2008. All the best from Hohe Bleichen in Hamburg,