Interview in TRADivarius (EP-DG TRAD’s digital newspaper)
By IRIEN Lauriane
RODOLFO MASLIAS: FAREWELL TO AN EU TERMINOLOGY LEGEND
After 15 years heading the Terminology Coordination Unit, Rodolfo Maslias is about to retire. Greek by nationality, he joined the European Parliament in 1981 as a translator in the Greek Unit. He only interrupted his work there twice to start two-year secondments in cultural fields in Greece, and a parallel position as Professor of Translation and Terminology at the Ionian University of Corfu. As head of the Terminology Coordination Unit, he was tasked with setting up a new unit to coordinate the terminology work done in the 23 translation units that existed in 2008 (24 since 2013, when Croatian joined the group of official languages). He has also represented the EP at the inter-institutional meetings of the IATE Management Group. Rodolfo loves travelling, language(s) and culture(s). Although colleagues in his unit at DG TRAD and in the broader terminology world will sorely miss him, Rodolfo’s legacy will definitely live on. Before Rodolfo leaves what has been his home for three decades, the TRADivarius team is talking to him about his years at the Parliament and his plans for the near future. We take the opportunity to wish him good luck in his new endeavours!
We imagine that you might be spending these days looking back at your extensive career in DG TRAD and recalling some of the best moments. Could you tell us three highlights you would like to share with us?
Yes, indeed, when you come to the end of a long professional career, it is unavoidable to look back and remember the various experiences. Also, the farewell meetings and parties make you think about the cooperation you had with the different groups and the many friends you will keep after retirement. It is true that I am probably the EP official with the longest stay in one and the same DG, in DG TRAD, but Ihad two very different lives. The first one as a translator since the age of 22 in the Greek translation unit, until 2008. I loved translating from the various languages into Greek and I can say that I was in love with my texts. The only negative point of working in a translation unit is that, in the end, you work like in a national service, and you don’t experience enough the big advantage of working in an international organisation. Therefore, I very happily accepted the proposal of my directors in 2008 to create a unit in order to coordinate the terminology work in all the translation units. So, the second highlight in my career was certainly having created a new unit from scratch with many difficulties related to human resources, raising awareness, and adapting the very quickly evolving science of terminology (which has become nowadays part of computational linguistics and communication) to the complex institutional workflows. The third highlight was my work during my two secondments in Greece when I had important duties in my city, Thessaloniki, and in Athens in the field of culture.
What legacy do you think you are leaving behind?
If there is a legacy I leave behind, it is certainly the results of the work done with my team in the field of terminology in the European Parliament, but also our contribution to constantly improving the European terminology database IATE and the efficiency of the inter-institutional collaboration in this field. However, I consider also very important our innovative approach among all other EU institutional central terminology coordination services, to create a wide international network through an important web and social media presence and very interesting cooperation with universities all over Europe.
Everyone who knows you is very impressed by your capacity to be involved on such a large number of fronts concerning your field, terminology. You are a leader in your field, with a lot of passion for your work. Tell us, what is your secret to having so much energy?
I am very pleased to hear from young colleagues that I am considered devoted and efficient in my tasks. It is true that it is in my character to identify myself with any job, but the multiple challenges to make terminology important in the Parliament and to network efficiently with other institutions and the worldwide linguistic sector gave me a lot of energy. What also gave me a lot of energy was the very pleasant teamwork with a very good team, and the collaboration with more than 200 very highly skilled and creative young professionals who joined our unit as trainees every six months. I enjoyed the double challenge of training them for their future professional career and at the same time absorbing all the recent and advanced knowledge they carried with them, which could be put to the service of our main clients, the translators of DG TRAD.
Now that you are at the gates of retirement, what are your plans for the future?
As every person coming to the end of a long professional career, I intend to dedicate more time to my family and my interests without the constraints of professional obligations. I have always had multiple activities in parallel to my work, especially in the fields of culture and sports, but in my family we also all like to travel and get to know new countries and cultures. I am also looking forward to spending more time with friends in Luxembourg, in Greece, and in other countries. Regarding activities related to my professional career and background, I will keep my academic activities in the field of terminology and multilingualism, and possibly translate books that I like just as a hobby.