The True Meaning of the French Rentrée

What the French call la Rentrée is a curious little thing. The start of the new year for some, a token of new beginnings for others, and an excuse to complain about it all for most.

This year perhaps even more so, and for good reason too, for a change.

The holidays – if you took any this year – are probably over. The clouds are back, not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, given how almost catastrophically dry the summer has been… and the nights are getting colder. Fewer mosquitoes, more spiders. Autumn scarves are slowly making a comeback, and suddenly waking up and getting out of bed early feels like more of an achievement in its own right.

Somehow this year being back to a busier and a more hectic schedule feels like a blessing.

We have new students at the ITIRI – our Interpreting School here in Strasbourg – and the market is slowly waking up to a new season. A very unpredictable one, unprecedented in its uncertainty, unrivalled in its seemingly omnipresent disquiet and concern. But still, a new season.

Something to look forward to. Something to keep you busy.

I have joined the AIIC VEGA Network over the summer as the new representative for the French region, and am grateful to my colleagues for their trust, and for this great honour. I am also very grateful to my region – AIIC France – for their constant and unwavering support.

If we are finding these times worrisome and uncertain, they must seem even more maddeningly so for the younger generation of interpreters out there. It feels important to be able to do at least something to help.

And at the end of the month we will hold a conference on Conference Interpreting and International Justice in the framework of the wonderful D’UNE LANGUE VERS L’AUTRE Initiative.

It took a lot of work, and many months of preparation, but it looks like we’re finally all set and ready, and are looking forward to welcoming you to our conference this coming Friday, 30 September. I couldn’t have asked for better partners in crime than my two incredible co-organisers, and the support from the interpreting community has been nothing short of overwhelming.

The conference will address the role of interpreting – and conference interpreters – in the field of national and international justice by bringing together representatives of both the legal and the interpreting professions.

Often separated by the soundproof glass of the interpreting booth, judges, lawyers, and conference interpreters will have a unique possibility to discuss some of the main challenges of multilingual justice and its specific implications.

Before I sign off for today the only thing left to do is wish you all a very Happy European Day of Languages, and, in just a few days, it will be Saint Jerome’s turn.

Featured image by Minna Sundberg courtesy of this fascinating language map selection, the one above hails from the legacy of Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

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