It was very disappointing to read in the October/November 2010 edition of the The Linguist that, according to the British Chambers of Commerce, language services will be among the worst casualties of the government’s spending cuts. At a time when the European Union is continuing to relax its border controls and encourage freedom of trade and movement, it seems a backward step to reduce the Public Sector’s budget for Translation and Interpreting. If Britain is to be successfully absorbed into Europe and take full advantage of the free market, then isn’t the best way forward to make sure we have adequate language services in place that will cope with the influx of new citizens?
It is evident that over the last decade the government has been keen to encourage immigration to satisfy the strong demand in certain sectors of the labour market. However, this initiative surely comes with the responsibility of providing Local Councils with adequate funding for translation and interpreting. On a personal level I was told by a friend of mine (a local school teacher) how her job is sometimes made very difficult by children attending school who have little grasp of English. I wonder whether these cuts will make her task even harder!
Finally, if the public sector is going to assist the private sector in securing contracts abroad, especially in the UK’s troubled manufacturing sector, then being able to communicate in the appropriate language in a clear and concise manner surely has to be one of the major priorities.