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June 14, 2005

Your tax Euros at work

Talk—at least in Gaelic—isn’t cheap:

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) - The European Union is saying “Failte!” - Welcome! - to Gaelic, Ireland’s little-used native tongue.
But while official status is a boost to those campaigning to save the language from extinction, the move comes with a price: It will require the hiring of an estimated 30 Gaelic speakers at a cost to EU taxpayers of about $4.15 million annually.
… The promotion of Gaelic is widely viewed as a political sacred cow in Ireland, even though elected representatives and officials - like the population at large - almost exclusively use English. In Ireland’s own parliament, less than 2 percent of business is conducted in Gaelic.

The EU has now burned through more than $1 billion translating documents and speeches into its 20 (now 21) official languages—and that doesn’t include costs incurred by even slower decision-making. Worse, translation costs are set to soar still higher: three “semi-official” regional languages—Basque, Catalan and Galician—are waiting in the wings, while ten new member countries joined the EU a year ago. Most will eventually seek official status for their native tongue—and the EU will become even more tongue-tied.

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