Tuesday, March 12, 2013

One nation, one language

It has always struck me as odd and costly that local councils, public services and national government bureaus translate documents into various different languages for the people who live here in England (Scotland and Wales, different rules apply) Seems I'm not the only one who thinks this, though i suspect eric Pickles will find himself ignored by local government, it seems to be a habit of theirs.
Councils must stop spending tens of millions of pounds pointlessly translating leaflets and documents into foreign languages, Eric Pickles has said.
The Communities and Local Government secretary said translating documents was a “very expensive and poor use of taxpayers’ money”.
Mr Pickles told MPs in the House of Commons he was concerned that the costs were being driven by human rights and equality laws and actually served to divide communities rather than unite them. Independent figures show that local authorities spend nearly £20million a year translating documents into a variety of different languages. Mr Pickles issued a Written Ministerial Statement urging councils to stop spending the money on the translation services. The statement replaced existing guidance on translation services, issued by former Communities secretary Hazel Blears in December 2007. Mr Pickles said: “Some local authorities translate a range of documents and other materials into languages spoken by their residents, and provide interpretation services.
“Whilst there may be rare occasions in which this is entirely necessary – for instance in emergency situations.
“I am concerned that such services are in many cases being provided unnecessarily because of a misinterpretation of equality or human rights legislation.”
Ah yes, it's a human right innit.
Thing is if you live in England you should at least make the effort to speak English and we should be like France where if you want something from the state local or national you do it in French, or you get an interpreter at your own expense.
And that's the rub isn't it, translation services don't come at the expense of those who need them, they come from the pockets of the taxpayer both local and national. To me (and probably you) it's quite simple, to those in charge and have budgets to maintain it's a necessity, though they'll never convince anyone other than their own feckless types that it is.
What we have are ghettoised areas where instead of having to integrate, the state has made it unnecessary for them. So naturally they don't, after all if we went to a foreign country to settle and they insisted in dealing with us in English we'd never integrate, we'd have no reason too.
Translation services should only be provided by the state in the case of an emergency. All others, you want it in Urdu, Gujarati, Polska, Arabic, you pay for it yourself.
Simple really.


5 annotations:

Anonymous said...

Stonyground says:
Making people pay for their own translation services would possibly give them an incentive to learn English. My suspicion, however is that many who don't speak the language, will have a young bilingual relative who can provide them with the service for free.

I also know someone who is a civil servant who tells me that their department used to use unofficial translators who did the job for next to nothing. They were then forced by orders from on high to only use the government approved ones who charge the earth and claim expenses on top.

Anonymous said...

One country, several languages.

Scots Gaelic and Welsh together with Irish Gaelic are official languages of the country. Many Welsh are very strict about this.

Moi, je préfère parler français, but as it is beyond the wit of most junior functionaries to speak understandable English, never mind anything else, je suppose que je n'aie pas de chance!!

Mind you, all these old folk who go to live in Spain and utterly refuse to learn anything more than dos cervezas por favor, then expect there officials there to speak English, are just as bad.

Stoneyground/Anon: The idiot government decided to farm out translation services for courts in England to some mate of one of the cabinet ministers apparently... This was going to save a fortune. Of course it's cost more and the translators are crap. But hey someone made a pile out of it.

Quiet_Man said...

As I wrote, Scotland and Wales, different rules apply. If your local councils wish to provide translations of the native tongues, that's their choice. Scots Gaelic and Welsh together with Irish Gaelic are not the official languages of England or indeed Medway district, I see no reason for translations of them here. I'm sure your parliament could pick up the tab.

Anonymous said...

It is quite right that the people who want something, should pay for it. That should be the default position for everything.
Another area in which the taxpayer should be absolved of paying other people's bills, is the scrutiny of visa applications. The foreigner who wants to come here, should bear the full cost of his visa application process.

Dioclese said...

Quite right. If you go to live in a foreign country, learn the language. That's why I live in England because I don;t want to learn another language.

For once, Pickles is right. Now there's a rarity!

And anyway, Welsh is a dead language - http://dioclese.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/welsh-is-dead-language.html