Speech by Androulla Vassiliou at the 16th DG Interpretation-Universities conference
Type: Complete speech
End production: 15/03/2012 First transmission: 15/03/2012
On 15 March 2012, Androulla Vassiliou, Member of the EC in charge of Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, participated in the 16th DG Interpretation-Universities conference, in Brussels. On this occasion, she gave a speech on tradition and innovation regarding technologies and interpretation.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Soundbite (in ENGLISH) by Androulla Vassiliou, Member of the EC in charge of Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth: I am very happy to address this distinguished audience for the third time. And I also have to say that I am proud of the work of my services, DG Interpretation or SCIC, in organising this prestigious event.
When we think of innovation, we often think of science and technology. We are certainly all aware of the central place that technology occupies in our daily lives. A continuous flow of new devices and services is shaping our home, our office, our communications, our leisure – in other words, our entire way of living.
Technology is everywhere, and sometimes we feel disoriented when we don't understand those complicated instructions to operate our new smart phone. I recently joined the worldwide Twitter community, and it took me some time to really master how it works. Now, I am hooked, and every day I see how it can improve our communications.
But some people fear technology. They worry that technology makes us less human. But why do we still feel this, when innovation and technology have shaped human history from the very beginning, from the time when our ancestors used the first man-made tools.
Science and technology have allowed mankind to send manned space missions to the Moon, to send the Voyager space probes to explore the far reaches of the Solar System and beyond, and also, on a smaller scale and closer to home, to save millions of lives through heart transplant techniques and dozens of other innovative practices in medicine.
Technology has allowed us to live in heated homes, to communicate across the airwaves and to fly from one continent to the other.
Of course, technology has also given us weapons of mass destruction, but, as the German novelist Michael Ende used to say in "The Neverending Story", "that is another story and shall be told another time.
"Many books have been written to explain how the Internet is changing our lives. People who are twenty years old today do not remember a world without e-mail, just as the rest of us do not remember a world without electricity. And one day, maybe in 2030, we will work in other new ways that we cannot even imagine today.
As human beings we are often confronted with a dilemma: do we stick to tradition or do we accept change?
Neuroscientists have often pointed out that our brain likes to do things the traditional way, using the same routines over and over again. Maybe you are also one of those people who like to repeat the same actions, always using the same routine.
But the human brain also tends to innovate, and this is where we have to adapt to new working methods, new technological developments and new ideas.
Later this afternoon, we will see a presentation on "The impact of technological advances on teaching conference interpreting". And tomorrow morning, the new experience of Remote Interpreting will be presented. This is certainly innovation, and innovation of a kind that might revolutionise the world of conference interpreting.
Last year, in DG Interpretation, there was a lot of talk about the somewhat controversial issue of remote interpreting. When it was used for the first time in Brussels at the dinners of the European Council, everything was done to provide the best possible conditions for both participants and interpreters.
I understand that the feedback received from the interpreters involved has been generally positive. Remote interpreting was a technical challenge, which also required a high degree of adaptation from the interpreters, and they proved that they could rise to the challenge.
I do not think that remote interpreting will become the norm, as there is no immediate prospect to introduce it. It will be used on limited occasions when needed. Moreover, from a technical point of view, research is still needed to improve it.
Therefore, in my opinion, remote interpreting should remain the exception to the rule. But of course, since we cannot predict what will happen in the more distant future, it is important that we are fully involved in its further development and that DG SCIC is firmly positioned in the drivers' seat.
||Translation of the previous soundbite (into GREEK) by Androulla Vassiliou
||Soundbite (in ENGLISH) by Androulla Vassiliou: I have said a lot about innovation, but we should not forget that tradition retains all of its value. After all, tradition allows universities to continue with good established practices in the field of conference interpreter training. And the human factor, which represents tradition, is the basic pillar of all teaching.
For this reason, I believe that pedagogical assistance will continue to be an essential tool of DG SCIC's cooperation with universities. The pedagogical know-how accumulated over the years both by universities and by DG SCIC has allowed us to establish a set of good practices that will remain the bedrock of teaching conference interpreting.
Therefore, we should keep in mind the importance of tradition and experience, and of the rich know-how that we have accumulated with time on our European continent.
But I also know that we have to embrace technology and innovation with an open mind, and make the most of them in every field, including, of course, the fascinating world of conference interpreting. Thank you.