The Linguist

The Linguist 59,1 - February/March 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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AWARDS FOCUS @Linguist_CIOL FEBruArY/MArCh The Linguist 15 on holiday to America and spaak happened to be on the boat, there could be no more excuses. As it turned out, spaak was looking for someone to help him prepare for a fundraising trip with unicef. "My languages were very useful because he could only speak French and i had to help him speak to all the ministers and heads of state. so i started to be an interpreter without knowing that i was interpreting," she explains. in fact, her language skills were in such demand that spaak "did everything to convince me to become an interpreter," introducing her to the head of interpreting at the Council of Europe. she was sent on a month-long interpreting course in Geneva before joining the European Community of Coal and steel under President Jean Monnet. "they needed me because the languages at that time were French, German, italian and dutch – and who knew dutch at the same time as German and French?" Breaking the glass ceiling Van hoof-haferkamp is forthright and direct, the charisma and determination that make her a natural leader in evidence as she speaks. But it was not always easy to be a woman with a career, especially when working alongside such powerful men. "When i started as a young girl in luxembourg at the Community of Coal and steel, the Vice-President said to me 'What are you doing here? Your place is in the kitchen'. You couldn't say that now, but they said it!" she laughs, incredulous. she went on to lead the interpreting team during the treaty of rome negotiations in 1956-57, becoming head interpreter when this service was transformed into the interpretation division of the European Commission in 1963, and then director of the Joint interpreting service. however, her promotion was by no means secure in the early days. "When i was received by the first President of the Commission, Walter hallstein, he said to me, 'i would love to promote you, but you're young, you'll have children and it is impossible,'" she says. Fortunately, he was convinced otherwise, and after a series of managerial role, Van hoof-haferkamp became the first female director-General of the European Commission in 1982. "i stayed the only one for 10 years because women were not supposed to have a career." the trail she blazed paved the way for others and today 40% of senior positions in the European institutions are held by women. As the cooperation between nation states grew – first into the European Economic Community (1957) and then into the European union (1993) – Van hoof-haferkamp found herself at the centre of huge changes in language provision. during the treaty of rome negotiations she was in charge of a team of just six. the interpreting service she established then has become the biggest in the world with 500 in-house interpreters, and many freelancers, interpreting for the Commission as well as other institutions, including the Council of Ministers. A world of glamour in those days, interpreting was glamorous, she says. interpreters rubbed shoulders with all the leaders of the modern world. Even in the late 20th century, many politicians had no common language, with the likes of thatcher, Kohl and Mitterrand requiring an interpreter just to have breakfast together. "there were interpreters in the service who worked with Jacques delors on his big press conferences in Germany. they were the happy ones. they were the stars; they existed like actors. it was much more like theatre. i enjoyed every moment of it," adds Van hoof-haferkamp. "Now that you have all these languages and you are hidden behind a glass window it's totally different. it's difficult to become a star." there are now 24 Eu languages because every member state can select its own official language, "which i think is not a good idea," she says. "Nations attach to their language an enormous importance, so the irish have chosen Gaelic but they speak English, and the Maltese have chosen Maltese, but they speak English." Ever the pragmatist, she advocates a model instead in which "people could speak their own language but you would not have to work into 24 languages". FINE TRIBUTE Renée Van Hoof- Haferkamp accepts the David Crystal Award for outstanding contribution to the field of languages (above and left); and in an unguarded moment (top) At the CIOL Awards Event in November, 16 prizes were awarded: 12 for performance in CIOL exams plus 3 special awards. The Threlford Memorial Cup is the oldest of the prizes, first presented in 1935 by the Institute's founder, Sir Lacon Threlford. Awarded for fostering the study of languages, it was won this year by uTalk Junior Language Challenge (see page 18). The youngest prize was launched in 2018: the Nick Bowen Award is a cash prize to enable a young CIOL member to participate in a project for international understanding of languages (see page 17). Cardiff University's School of Modern Languages won the Nuffield Trophy for the second year in a row and the Schlapps Oliver Shield for best group entry in the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting and the Diploma in Translation respectively. Shrewsbury High School received the Pilley Cup for the second time in the prize's four-year history for scoring top marks in the Certificate in Languages for Business. See details of all the winners at PRIZEWINNERS 2019 © Chris Christodoulou

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