Wednesday, December 06, 2006



I was back working at the European Parliament last week after a long break. Last time I was there they were getting by with nine languages. Now it's up to twenty, and rising.

But the dire predictions (hopes?) of language chaos have not been borne out. The new expanded regime seems to be working just fine and the interpreters are taking it all in their stride.

Observe for yourself at the EP's website where you can watch and listen to its plenary sessions either in the original or interpreted into any one of the twenty working languages. If you want to know what Maltese sounds like, or if you don't know your Slovene from your Slovak, this is for you (doesn't seem to work too well with Firefox, unfortunately).

On the subject of Slovaks and Slovenes: if you're forever getting them mixed up you're certainly not alone. After all, George W. Bush famously did so. And according to Ljubljana-life
A Slovene diplomat (who has asked to remain anonymous) in a major European capital city, has revealed that his staff meet once a month with their counterparts from the Slovak embassy to exchange wrongly-addressed mail!
Mind you, is it any wonder when you consider the many striking similarities listed by Ljubljana-life:
Both countries have Karst regions.
Both countries have officially-recognized Hungarian minorities...
Both countries have shield-shaped coats of arms in the top-left of their flag...
Both countries were once a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
A female resident of both countries is a 'Slovenka' in her native tongue.
I wonder which of these it was that threw President Bush.

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