It’s always around this point of PRIX JEUNESSE that I realized about 80% of the people around me have been operating for almost a week in a language that isn’t their first. For many years, the festival was run simultaneously in English, French and German, later adding Spanish. Every program and plenary session was translated live, and there were parallel discussion groups in each of the languages. Once that became financially impractical, PRIX JEUNESSE decided to run in English, with all programs either translated or subtitled, and discussion groups run primarily in English, but with bilingual moderators where possible.
Still, the English spoken by so many of the participants from all over the world is so proficient and fluent that it’s easy to forget the intellectual strain it must be to translate everything – six hours per day of TV, formal discussion sessions, lunchtime conversations, information sessions – from English as you take it in, and then back into English as you contribute.
A few years back, I attended a PRIX JEUNESSE offshoot in Chile, run entirely in Spanish. I spent the first day being resentful that no accommodation was made for me…and then realized that this is what it must be like for most people at PRIX JEUNESSE.