Thursday, 14 March 2013

Would a Pickle by any other name taste so sour

Eric (the pickled egg) Pickles has been amusing himself issuing a few admonishments to local authorities. One is his complaint that to much is being spent on translating documents for those who don't speak English. A figure of £20 million per year was quoted. The rationale - providing translations discourages people from learning English. So Eric, please direct me to te credible piece of research that supports your hypothesis. Or is it as I suspect based entirely on your own musings and wishful thinking? It is classic nasty party 'kicking away the crutches encourages people to walk' logic.
My guess is not providing material people can understand simply means they don't access services.
I kind of get some of the argument . 10 yeas ago a housing Association I worked for was having a residents conference. As part of the invitations they asked if people needed help with English. A Vietnamese family advised that yes they would like to come and yes they would like help with English. So a translator was booked, and duly turned up on the day. Sadly the family did not. It would have been cheaper to send the translator to their house to go through the conference 121.
However, most translation is done of information that we actually need people to understand. We need people to really understand the obligations of their tenancy, not just sign it blind, we need people to understand the importance of getting their gas boiler serviced or the fire safety instructions or the rules on recycling. We what the victims of abuse to know who to call, not rely on a relative.
The realty is that most documents are not translated as a matter of course, it s done on request. The reality is that the number of requests is low.
I am sure there are plenty of anecdotes about things being needlessly translated but the vaste majority is done not out of political correctness but out of necessity to deliver services. This was a cheap shot from Pickles that deliberately misrepresents the situation to score a point.