Newsletter June 2002

Conference interpreters divide their working languages into three categories, A, B and C. A is the mother tongue, B an active working language and C a passive working language. The two SIMCONSULT partners, George Drummond and Susan Fergusson, have the same combination of languages: English A, German B and French C.

Susanne Schwarz, the General Manager, would have a language combination: German A, Italian B, English C. So in the office at least it is 2 to 1 in favour of English, which is why we often speak English together and Susanne Schwarz has to activate her "C language". This occasionally gives us something to smile about. We were discussing things recently in the office and Susanne Schwarz commented light-heartedly: "I will be licensed by my bosses." At first we were rather puzzled, then we burst out laughing: "licence" from the French "licencier", Italian "licenziare" - to dismiss.


On another occasion Susanne Schwarz reported on a colleague standing on a railway platform somewhere in Mecklenburg, and said: "She has been bitten by an ape". An ape on the loose at a railway station in Mecklenburg? You must be joking! Suddenly the penny drops and again laughter all round: "ape" Italian for "bee". The poor colleague had been stung by a bee while waiting to board the train -o.k. it doesn't happen every day, but it is still more likely than being bitten by a primate.


In our business this phenomenon of direct transfer from one language to another is known as transliteration. Sometimes it works, usually it doesn't. There was the case of the German-speaking chairman who wanted to impress an international audience with his knowledge of English and referring to the efforts of both himself and the Board, proudly announced: "We've hardly worked", meaning of course that they had been working hard. A seasoned interpreter will know when to read between the lines.


So what about our work? As with previous years, the year 2002 got off to a quiet start, with an increase in activity in February and March. We note however that the signs of the times are also affecting the conference sector. We made good use of the relative calm, investing considerable time in completely revamping our website, giving it a new look, up to date navigation and revised text. In addition, our new brochure is about to arrive hot off the press.

Some interesting things were happening at the same time on the conference scene. We interpreted for the presentation of the results of "Shipping accident on the Baltic", a table-top exercise which had been set up during the course of three preparatory conferences, organised by the Disaster Prevention Agency of the Government of Schleswig-Holstein. The actively participating countries were Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Detailed plans for an emergency scenario were being carefully tested on the drawing board.


Another marine subject came up in February when SIMCONSULT again provided a team of interpreters for the Fish International Quality Conference 2002 in Bremen. From fishing to flying, George Drummond interpreted at a highly technical symposium on aircraft passenger cabin design for the Airbus, organised to coincide with the trade fair in Hamburg in April.


For the fourth time running we provided interpreters for German and Italian for the Jil Sander AG supervisory board meeting and to round off the list of global topics, we were again commissioned by Gruner + Jahr: Susan Fergusson interpreted a fascinating discussion between Hans-Olaf Henkel, former president of the BDI, Federation of German Industry, and Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate for Economics 2001, on the subject of "Globalisation - a curse or a blessing". The bottom line for Simconsult - it is more of a blessing. Best wishes from Gänsemarkt, Hamburg. Keep in touch.


We leave you now with this brief summary of our activities. Hopefully by the time November comes you will hear from us again once the dust has settled.



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