Information on the Language Services Division of the Federal Foreign Office

Areas of responsibility and tasks

The Language Services Division of the Federal Foreign Office serves the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Chancellery and the Office of the Federal President. It also assists the German Bundestag with events of relevance to foreign policy.

Within the Federal Foreign Office, the Language Services Division has overall responsibility for all the language services of the German diplomatic and career-consular missions abroad and advises them in all matters concerning interpreting, translating and terminology, as well as language training.

Sections of the Language Services Division

The Language Services Division is divided into five sections: the Interpretation Service, the Translation Service, the Translation Service for International Agreements, the IT, Terminology and Documentation Service and the Language Training Centre. The Language Services Division personnel work in up to five sections, depending on their language, workload and aptitude.

Interpreting and translating

The two main tasks of the Language Services Division are interpreting and translating: the interpreters' task is to make possible communication in talks or negotiations at home or abroad. The translators produce written translations from the foreign language into German or vice versa, revise texts written in the foreign language and work as conference translators at international conferences. The subjects cover practically all areas. The texts translated include speeches to be made in front of a foreign audience or required for public relations abroad, correspondence with the representatives of foreign states, all kinds of international treaties, diplomatic demarches, visitors' programmes, negotiation minutes, to mention but a few.

Translation Service for International Agreements

The concluding linguistic examination of international agreements is carried out by the specialist Translation Service for International Agreements, which ensures that the official German wording corresponds to that in the languages of the treaty partners and is phrased correctly.

IT, Terminology and Documentation Service

A further section deals with multilingual information technology, compiling specialized terminology (e.g. the official names of states, the names of German and international institutions and organizations, the titles of international treaties), as well as collating and coordinating foreign-language documentation. Moreover, this section is involved in the standardization work of various committees of the German Institute for Standardization (DIN).

Language Training Centre

The Language Training Centre is responsible for the foreign-language tuition of Federal Foreign Office personnel. It plans, coordinates and provides didactic assistance for tuition in more than 60 foreign languages at home and abroad, tailored to the special needs of the Federal Foreign Office. Furthermore, it holds language examinations.

International relations

The Language Services Division has manifold international relations: on top of its cooperation with international professional associations such as the AIIC and university institutes, it is actively involved in COTSOES (Conference of Translation Services of European States) and has regular exchanges with the language services of other states, for instance France, USA and Canada and with the translation services of European Parliament and European Commission. 

Last updated 02.10.2006

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