congrestolken-40-jaar

  • Congrestolken im Wandel der Zeiten - DE

    Congrestolken im Wandel der Zeiten

    Treibende Kraft, Rückgrat der Genossenschaft, charismatische Persönlichkeit, Idealist im besten Sinne. So haben die beiden langjährigen Mitglieder Inge Piket und Christa Schröder den Gründer von Congrestolken – Henri Methorst – heute noch in Erinnerung.

    Die Aktivitäten der Dolmetschergenossenschaft wurden zunächst vom Privathause Methorst aus koordiniert. Später konnten Büroräume an der Prinsengracht bezogen werden.

    Das digitale Zeitalter lag noch in weiter Ferne und die Arbeitsabläufe folgten einem gemächlicheren Tempo. Anfragen für Aufträge gingen den Dolmetschern per Brief zu. Und ob sie den Auftrag annehmen konnten oder nicht, teilten die Kolleginnen und Kollegen ebenfalls auf dem Postwege mit. Informationen zur Vorbereitung der Aufträge fand man meist nur in der Bibliothek – ein Aufwand, den sich kein Internetnutzer mehr vorstellen kann.

    In den Anfangsjahren war es keine Seltenheit, dass sich die Kollegen von November bis März nicht in der Dolmetscherkabine begegneten. In diesem Zeitraum fanden schlichtweg keine Kongresse statt. Doch nach und nach entwickelte sich der Kongressmarkt in den Niederlanden und damit auch das Auftragsvolumen bei Congrestolken.

    Während heute die englische Sprache allgegenwärtig ist, regierte damals noch das Französische die Welt des Dolmetschens. Außerdem wurden in viel größerem Umfang Dolmetscher bei längeren technischen und landwirtschaftlichen Seminaren eingesetzt. Wichtige Auftraggeber auf diesen Gebieten waren das staatliche Post- und Telekommunikationsunternehmen PTT, IBM, das Grafisch Lyceum und die Universität Wageningen.

    Auch beim Galadiner nahm man für Tischgespräche recht häufig die Dienste von Dolmetschern in Anspruch und es kam schon vor, dass ein Kollege noch rasch zum Smokingverleih eilen musste, um der abendlichen Kleiderordnung gerecht zu werden.

    Zu den denkwürdigen Dolmetscheinsätzen in den 80er Jahren zählten die Pressekonferenz mit Kardinal Simonis anlässlich des Besuchs von Papst Johannes Paul II.  sowie die Einweihung des Oosterschelde-Sturmflutwehres durch Königin Beatrix, zu der hochrangige Persönlichkeiten wie Richard von Weizsäcker und François Mitterrand begrüßt wurden.

    Auch an eher kuriose Aufträge erinnern sich Inge Piket und Christa Schröder gern, wie den „Weltkongress des Klubs der langen Menschen“ und ein Seminar zum Thema „Das Leben beginnt erst mit 40“.

    Humor musste man als Dolmetscher ohnehin schon immer unter Beweis stellen. Wie damals, als Christa Schröder bei ihrer Ankunft am Veranstaltungsort weder eine Dolmetscherkabine noch Kopfhörer vorfand. Ihre Besorgnis konnten die Organisatoren nicht teilen; sie wiesen freundlich darauf hin, dass man sie doch extra neben dem Lautsprecher platziert habe.

    Auch die Etikette in den Dolmetscherkabinen hat sich im Laufe der Zeit etwas gewandelt. Es ist kaum zu glauben und heute völlig undenkbar, aber bis in die 80er Jahre war es durchaus üblich, in der Kabine zu rauchen. Aufsteigende weiße Rauchschwaden zeugten damals also nicht nur davon, dass den Dolmetschern vor Anstrengung die Köpfe rauchten ... Letzteres kommt allerdings immer noch vor. Ganz so weit geht der Wandel wohl doch nicht.

    Aufgezeichnet von Manuela Degenkolb
  • Congrestolken through the ages - EN

    Congrestolken through the ages

    He was the driving force behind Congrestolken, its backbone, a charismatic personality, an idealist in the best sense of the word. That is how two long-standing Congrestolken members, Inge Piket and Christa Schröder, remember our founder Henri Methorst to this day.

    At first, the interpreters’ cooperative ran things from Methorst’s home address. Later, it moved to offices on the Prinsengracht.

    The digital age was still far off and business proceeded at a more leisurely pace. Interpreters were informed of incoming work by letter, and they posted a letter back to indicate whether they were available or not. They prepared for conferences by reading things up in the public library, an effort scarcely conceivable to anyone familiar with the internet.

    It was quite normal for interpreters not to set foot in a booth between November and March in the early days. There simply were not any conferences at that time of year. However, the Dutch conference market gradually grew, bringing an increase in Congrestolken’s workload with it.

    English is now omnipresent, but in those days the world of interpreting was dominated by French. Another difference is that large teams of interpreters often worked at technical or agricultural seminars lasting several days. Major clients in those days included the PTT (the national postal and telephone company), IBM, the Grafisch Lyceum and the University of Wageningen.

    Interpreters were often used for formal dinner speeches, too, and it was not unknown for an interpreter to sprint off to the gentlemen’s outfitters and rent a dinner jacket in order to comply with the event’s dress code.

    One of the most memorable occasions interpreters worked at in the 1980s was Cardinal Simonis’s press conference on the occasion of Pope John Paull II’s visit. Another was when Queen Beatrix inaugurated the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier, with such illustrious guests as Presidents Richard von Weizsäcker of Germany and François Mitterrand of France.

    Inge Piket and Christa Schröder harbour fond memories of some curious conferences such as the World Tall People’s Club and the seminar entitled “Life Begins at Forty”.

    A sense of humour has always been indispensable for an interpreter. On one occasion Christa Schröder arrived for work to find there was no booth for her, nor even a headset. The organisers could not understand why it mattered and pointed out that they had found her a seat right next to the loudspeaker.

    Professional etiquette has changed as well. It seems almost unbelievable nowadays but until the 1980s it was the most normal thing in the world to smoke in the booth. Clouds of smoke billowing up from the booth did not just mean that the interpreters’ heads were overheating. That can still happen, of course. Not everything has changed.

    Translated from the German by Toby Screech

Kantoor rood-wit

40 jaar op één pagina/40 years on one page

Klik om te vergroten - Click to enlarge

Henri Methorst, 1909-2007

  • 40ème Anniversaire de la Coopérative Congrestolken - FR

    40ème Anniversaire de la Coopérative Congrestolken

    Entretien avec Danielle Bolhuis-Zerner, interprète EN, NL, DE -> FR

    Le rôle du Congrestolkensecretariaat pour la profession d’interprète

    Congrestolken fut le tout premier groupement d’interprètes à se constituer en coopérative. Ses caractéristiques clés demeurent la qualité, la solidarité entre interprètes et le but non-lucratif.

    Pendant les années ’70, Henri Methorst en tant que fondateur/directeur et Igor Schuurman, qui assurait intelligemment le secrétariat, ont tissé un réseau d’interprètes de la plus haute qualité.

    A l’époque, le marché des conférences n’avait pas l’ampleur qu’il a aujourd’hui. Aux Pays-Bas, la saison de l’interprétation coïncidait avec le début de la saison des tulipes ! Cette période des débuts fut une grande période pour les interprètes. Il n’y avait pas d’autres prestataires, les budgets des conférences étaient importants, les interprètes voyageaient par monts et par vaux et furent traités comme des délégués à part entière.

    En 2002, Lineke Hofdijk, excellente interprète ayant beaucoup travaillé pour les institutions européennes, a pris la relève. Elle a consolidé la renommée de Congrestolken en faisant connaitre la coopérative aux administrations et entreprises des Pays-Bas et d’Europe. Elle a également représenté les interprètes au sein de nombreuses organisations professionnelles.

    Aujourd’hui, Congrestolken est toujours le partenaire préféré dès qu’il s’agit de fournir des interprètes pour des occasions aussi diverses que les assemblées générales d’actionnaires, les comités d’entreprise européens et les visites d’État en passant par les cabinets d’avocats et les manifestations culturelles ou scientifiques.

    Propos recueillis par Madeleine Schalken
  • 40th Anniversary of the Congrestolken Cooperative - EN

    40th Anniversary of the Congrestolken Cooperative

    Interview with Danielle Bolhuis-Zerner, interpreter from EN, NL, DE into FR

    What Congrestolken did for interpreting as a profession

    Congrestolken was the first group of interpreters set up as a cooperative. Its key features were (and still are) quality, mutual solidarity, and not-for-profit status.

    Henri Methorst was our founder and director and Igor Schuurman did an excellent job running the secretariat. The two of them built up a network of really top-quality interpreters in the 1970s.

    The conference market was much smaller back then. The Dutch interpreting season started when the tulips came out. But the early days were very good for interpreters. There were no rivals on the market, conferences had lots of money to spend, interpreters travelled far and wide and the were treated as fully fledged delegates.

    Lineke Hofdijk took over in 2002. She is an outstanding interpreter and had lots of experience working for the European institutions. She continued building up Congrestolken’s reputation, making it known in government and business circles in the Netherlands and Europe. She also represented interpreters on a number of professional organisations.

    To this day Congrestolken remains the preferred interpreter supplier for events ranging from Shareholders’ General Meetings and European Works Councils to official state visits, plus also barristers’ chambers and cultural or scientific events.

    Translated from the French by Toby Screech
  • 40-jarig jubileum van de Coöperatieve Vereniging Congrestolken - NL

    40-jarig jubileum van de Coöperatieve Vereniging Congrestolken

    Artikel n.a.v. gesprek met Danielle Bolhuis-Zerner: tolk EN, NL, DE-> FR

    De rol van het Congrestolkensecretariaat voor het beroep van tolk

    Het Congrestolkensecretariaat Amsterdam was de eerste groep tolken die de vorm van een coöperatie heeft aangenomen. De belangrijkste kenmerken zijn nog steeds kwaliteit, saamhorigheid tussen de tolken en de afwezigheid van winstoogmerk.

    In de jaren ’70 zijn oprichter-directeur Henri Methorst en Igor Schuurman, die de tolkenteams samenstelde, erin geslaagd een netwerk van de meest hoogwaardige tolken op te bouwen.

    In die tijd was de congresmarkt nog niet zo omvangrijk als nu en viel in Nederland de start van het tolkenseizoen samen met de start van het tulpenseizoen. Deze begintijd van de Coöperatie was voor de tolken een luxe periode. Er waren nog niet veel andere aanbieders, congresbudgetten waren groot en tijdens hun vele reizen werden de tolken behandeld als volwaardige congresdeelnemers.

    In 2002 nam Lineke Hofdijk, die vele jaren voor de Europese instellingen had gewerkt, het stokje over. Zij heeft de naamsbekendheid van Congrestolken verder vergroot door de coöperatie bekend te maken bij overheden en bedrijfsleven in Nederland en Europa. Ook heeft zij de tolken vertegenwoordigd in talrijke beroepsorganisaties.

    Ook nu nog is Congrestolken preferred partner zodra er behoefte is aan tolken voor gelegenheden die uiteen lopen van Algemene Vergaderingen van Aandeelhouders, Europese Ondernemingsraden en rechtszaken tot en met Staatsbezoeken en culturele en wetenschappelijke evenementen.

    Vertaald vanuit het Frans door Madeleine Schalken

 

 

  • Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis - 30 years at Congrestolken - EN

    Anyone whose memory stretches back three decades will agree that the world was a very different place. There were no computers or mobile phones, everybody got by with a typewriter and a fax. The pace of life seemed slow. Congrestolken’s little office on the Prinsengracht, managed by Igor and Marian (no relation to our current gem) with occasional visits from the General (Henri), was like an oasis of peace from which enticing work offers issued forth. Interpreters got paid a lot and in cash. Summers were also reliably hot and sunny.

    At the time, Congrestolken enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the Dutch interpreting market and also had a convincing headlock on a raft of important international clients who shall, for the most part, remain nameless. Our Olympian position on the home market was due to a number of factors, the most significant of which was our leader, our boss, our Napoleon: Henri Methorst.

    If you look Henri up on Wikipedia, you will see at the bottom of the page that they characterise him as activist, publisher, resistance fighter, gay-rights activist and Righteous Among the Nations. Henri was a giant of a man, and I say this not merely in recognition of the astonishingly brave decision he took in his 80s, to ditch the wig which had been his companion for so many a year. The categories do not do him justice. He was the first to publish Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence and Anaïs Nin in the Netherlands, he lived in a ménage à trois before WW2, he was a father and a homosexual, during the war he hid Jewish artists on his farm at great personal risk (hence the Yad Vashem recognition), he was the only interpreter to travel with Krishnamurti, whose books he translated, he was an accomplished musician and a co-founder of COC. He was also the benevolent despot who founded our cooperative with a great sense of ironic humour: the commune lifestyle with a touch of diktat.

    Back in the 1980s, interpreters enjoyed a wholly different status from today. Why is this the case? Well, there are any number of reasons, the most significant probably being the growth of the profession. In 1986 there were 11 member states in the EU compared to 28 now. The institutional work that this enlargement generated required mushroom-like proliferation in our business. And now, not only are we the many but we are largely the invisible. Thirty years ago, consecutive interpretation was commonplace. Standing on your hind legs and wowing the entire bench at the International Court of Justice with your ability was a skill that commanded respect. Commanding respect from a goldfish bowl hidden out of sight is a much taller order.

    The different status was also indubitably due to the interpreters themselves: often people with other careers behind them and a whole cosmopolitan savoir-vivre under their belt. The word “diva” springs to mind. Let me give you an example. At that time, IBM in Terhulpen was our biggest client and we recruited the best and most celebrated interpreters from around Europe to service their needs. They would turn up in fur and cape, talking of helicopter flights with this minister or that president. Since all presentations were in American, the English booth did nothing, apart from making the occasional mess of such gibberish as “le tampon étendu dans l'hyperspace” and acting as the venue for impromptu socialising. Congrestolken did, however, need a presence at IBM to report back after events, so I was sent off with instructions to be useful, try to behave and, above all, keep my mouth shut. IBM was naturally unaware of my valet-like status and used to send a stretch limo to pick me up at my lakeside hotel every morning. All it lacked was a flag flying from the bonnet and a police escort.

    Well, anyway, one day the inevitable happened and, whilst I was busy listening to my elders and betters discuss the relative merits of black and white truffles (white) and non-vintage champagnes (Bollinger), I inadvertently tripped the microphone switch. How long it had been on before the chairman intervened I cannot say, but his words I remember exactly: “It's good to hear that we have the right kind of people over there in the interpretation booths!”

    Contrast that, if you will, with a recent assignment for a large, international law firm who were giving an extravagant party in a waterside film studio. “Dress formally”, was the advice on the contract. Maybe there was something about elegance, too. In any event, I took it to heart and, after donning the dark Armani pinstripe, motored down to the venue in my varnished 1930s launch. I moored, walked down the red carpet, introduced myself to the hostpersons and was immediately shown to the tradesmen’s entrance and thence to the kitchen, where a booth had been set up.

    So, a lot has changed over the years. Whereas before it seemed that you had to be an expert on at least three different subjects per month for conferences lasting up to five days, now the circumference of knowledge required on the private market seems to have shrunk to a restricted number of topics to be dealt with in a single day. Whilst I regret the expertise that enabled me to pose as a dentist at cocktail parties and peer into strangers’ mouths, I certainly don’t miss the dire awfulness of turning up at a conference on “Life extension” (no documents beforehand) only to discover that it was actually on “Life extension and creep-crack propagation in nuclear power plant welding”. On that particular occasion, fortunately, my unfazed colleague (another giant amongst men) merely turned to me and said, “Don't worry, I pretty much wrote the book on non-destructive testing”.

    Fortunately, too, some things have not changed. Interpreters are still as brilliantly talented as ever. Anyone who harbours the slightest doubt about this should just listen to the European Parliament interpreters doing two-minute speeches in Plenary... and be amazed. Interpretation also still seems to be a key to longevity. As Jean Herbert, one of the all-time greats (his Wikipedia entry beggars belief) famously quipped: “"l'interprétation, cela conserve”. If we look around, we see that, but for a few very sad exceptions, that still holds true today. So too, the mental gymnastics of our job appear to act as an antidote to Alzheimer’s in a way that Sudoku never could. An example: a few weeks before Henri died, I recall him patiently trying to explain to me the distinction between mind and brain. He was 98.

    Thus the changing times have required us all to change with them: it is evolution writ large and where perhaps the biggest change of all is the one that Congrestolken itself has undergone. From a theoretical cooperative genially directed by a far-sighted Field Marshall, we have evolved into a genuine cooperative managed by, with and on behalf of its members. Our rock-solid office staff have successfully coped with all the changes thrown at them, be they technical, commercial or managerial, and have surfaced from their trial by fire welded into a unit on which we all can rely. Henri would be proud and so should we.

    Written by Jeff Lewis

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