Conference interpreting at the Court of Justice of the European Union: A look behind the scenes

Conference interpreting at the Court of Justice of the European Union: A look behind the scenes


If you’ve been to a hearing at the Court you may have seen us in the booths. It is important that we listen to what is being said in the hearings but what’s most important is that we don’t translate word for word what we hear. Instead we have to really understand the ideas and the arguments of all the speakers and then we convey those in our own words. But before the hearings even begin, it’s a race against time for our secretaries who help to distribute the last-minute pleadings. When there are a lot of booths, it’s a real workout! The booth is our main workplace, but it’s not the only one. We also spend a lot of time in our offices preparing each hearing. We read the case file and we prepare the pleading notes, that is, if we receive them in advance. But there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Each hearing requires the right number of interpreters, with the right language combinations. And that needs careful planning When the need arises we also recruit experienced freelance colleagues who are used to working at the Court. We constantly work on improving our languages and our legal knowledge. We learn new languages and we maintain the ones we already have by attending exercises. Providing interpreting services at a place like the Court requires teamwork. Leading the team is Marie Muttilainen.

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