Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A long time coming

The Speaker has announced that Parliament will be trialling simultaneous interpretation in the House. This has been a long time coming. It's been twenty years since te reo was acknowledged as an official language; and eight years since the House took the first fumbling steps towards regularising its use by providing an interpreter (previously members had to provide their own translations). For a country which supposedly takes pride in Maori culture and treats Maori as full and equal citizens, that's far too long.

Simultaneous translation will finally allow te reo to be used to its fullest in parliamentary debates, without speaker's having to sacrifice half their time to translation (one of the biggest problems with the current system). It will also be a powerful statement of the status of the Maori language in New Zealand - and through them, of Maori. Given the token cost - $132,000 a year, pocket change to the government - you wonder why they didn't do it years ago.


In Ireland Irish (Gaelic) and English are official languages and as such can be used in the Dail.

Some years ago, when Conor Cruse O'Brien was a minister, he used to deal with questions that he didn't want to answer by replying in Irish - which wasn't as widely understood as it is now.

Posted by Rich : 5/17/2007 12:35:00 PM