Not a tap of study but climbed up on my high horse with a strongly worded letter to the Irish Times about the Taoiseach misrepresenting translators. I’m big into my strongly worded letters of late. I wrote a letter to the Irish Times last week as well (which wasn’t printed) as I think volume as well as content has a lot to do with it. However I don’t need the Irish Times as I have my own publishing empire right here. So here are my two missives for your reading pleasure:

Sent on 30 November 2005
The Heart of the Irish Language debate: Maurice Neligan and the Irish Language

A chara,

I agree with your correspondent Maurice Neligan in the Health Supplement (Tuesday 28/11/2005) that the Irish Language is a topic most worthy of debate. Your own Letters page has been testament to this of late. However I feel that Mr. Neligan has missed the point.

He is confusing two issues: educational choice and linguistic rights. As a medical practitioner I would have thought that he would understand the need to allow the patient dignified and comfortable communication with their physician at all times. The piece of legislation that brought An Roinn Fisiteiripe into his life was not created to entertain him and his readers but rather to afford Irish speakers the same level of dignified service as English speakers.

I am confused as to what relevance this issue has to Mr. Neligan’s area of expertise except that reading his “bigoted views” certainly raised my blood pressure.

le gach dea-ghuí,
Roseanne Smith

Sent on 8th December 2005
Concern at cost of bilingual reports

A chara,

I refer to Marie O’Halloran’s report of December 8th 2005 which describes a debate in the Dáil about the cost of implementing the Official Languages Act 2003. I am concerned by two points raised.

One is the reference to the cost of preparing a document in English (€685) and the cost of preparing the same document in Irish (€17,000). I am not a translator but I do have some experience working with translators and I think that our Taoiseach is doing them a gross disservice. Let us for a moment suppose that a translator charges €150 per 1000 words. This would mean that the document contains just over 110,000 words. I don’t believe you will find a translation company in Ireland who will translate a 110,000 word document into any language, even English, for €685 so my only conclusion is that the Taoiseach is not comparing like with like. Were the original document in French and were it required to be translated into Irish and English and there was such a large discrepancy then I would be concerned. With a statement such as this the Taoiseach is not only misrepresenting Irish Language translators but all translators.

My second concern is the Taoiseach’s statement that “Whether a document is important and in demand from Irish speakers should be a consideration.” I am curious to know how he will judge whether non-existent documents are in demand. Schemes have been implemented by 22 public bodies who have no baseline for the demand for Irish Language Services because until the implementation of the Act, there was no statutory responsibility on the public bodies to supply these services so there was little or no demand. Furthermore the required document is always of importance to the person who requires it so how the Taoiseach proposes to rate a document’s importance will also be of interest to me.

Is mise le meas,
Roseanne Smith

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