This site is no longer active. Looking for a conference interpreter? For news, events, contacts and any other information on conference interpreting, please visit us at


I'm particularly curious about Danish and Swedish (I'm ignoring Norwegian because it's not an EU language, and so I imagine it's market works very differently). What made this come to mind was a time when I was sitting next to a Dane (namebadge) at a plenary session at the EU Parliament. In my incessant nosiness, I saw on his chair arm that he was listening to the English channel. I resisted the urge to reach over him and toggle over to the perfectly good Danish channel he was letting go to waste.

That example is incredibly presumptuous and not at all scientific. But I'm wondering, because Scandinavians are so lauded for their abilities in English, does that hurt the market of interpreters who work into these languages? In another not so scientific observation, I noticed that many interpreters in the AIIC directory who work with Danish or Swedish seem to have really large combinations (like 6 or more languages). Could that be a result of a lesser demand, and thus a need to diversify?

asked 02 Feb '14, 04:12

charlielee's gravatar image


edited 03 Feb '14, 05:34

Delete's gravatar image

Delete ♦

Here are some figures about the market situation in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland).

The report and the regional graphs are available here (for AIIC members): 2012 Statistical report

An Executive Summary will be published soon on our public website.

Extracts from the recently published AIIC Statistics report 2012.

All in all, Europe as the traditionally biggest market in the world plummeted most in 2012, which goes some way towards explaining the rather meagre score of 88 average working days of all respondents. Viewed as a time series, the world average number of 88 days of work in 2012 was the lowest ever recorded in the last 15 years. Countries with subdued market situations include the Nordic Countries (average 66 days/year):

alt text

As said by Gaspar, the interpreters from the Nordic countries work a lot for European institutions (column in green):

alt text

In regions with low annual gross income from interpreting services it is natural to find the highest percentages of additional gainful work. In the Nordic Countries 70% of all respondents worked mostly up to 30% outside their interpreting job.

alt text

permanent link

answered 10 Feb '14, 04:26

Angela's gravatar image


edited 10 Feb '14, 04:44

Just to clarify, this is regarding those surveyed who work in the countries in question, and not members who have the national languages of these countries in their combination?

I guess this isn't terribly shocking - about 75% the world average.

Thank you for the excellent graphs!

(10 Feb '14, 11:15) charlielee

Yes, that's correct, Charlielee. Another note: These figures represent only respondents who live in Scandinavian countries. There are also many interpreters with Scandinavian languages (active or passive) living in Brussels (and they are not taken into account here).

The graphs were btw extracted by Vincent Buck. The text is from Jacquy Neff.

(10 Feb '14, 11:24) Angela

@charlielee - the answers are from respondents who were based in the Nordic countries at survey time. There is a relatively good overlap between that population -- -- and the AIIC population with Nordic languages --,44,118,155/0/0 -- but Angela's answer definitely uses charts that were compiled to investigate the former, no the latter.

(10 Feb '14, 11:28) Vincent Buck

Thank you both. This gives me a very valuable perspective for my next steps.

(10 Feb '14, 14:51) charlielee

because Scandinavians are so lauded for their abilities in English, does that hurt the market of interpreters who work into these languages?

Indeed, the number of meetings having DA or SV is low, compared to other languages:

DG SCIC - Interpretation days in 2012

  • English: 14,947
  • French: 13,246
  • Swedish: 2,722
  • Danish: 2,300


permanent link

answered 02 Feb '14, 07:35

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦


I wonder if I should just start sending my questions directly to you. Thank you Gaspar!

(02 Feb '14, 12:41) charlielee


This being said, in some booths (FR, ES, NL), there seems to be demand for DA or SV as a passive language:

I guess it's comparable to my Hungarian C. As far as I know, we're three out of 150 in the FR Unit to have it as an official C language. I end up assigned to meetings offering HU as a passive language quite often, even if the number of meetings with Hungarian passive seems quite low at first glance.

(02 Feb '14, 13:02) Gaspar ♦♦

I'll look into how that compares for the demand for DA and SV passive in the EN booths

(10 Feb '14, 11:08) charlielee

It seems the same holds true for the EN booth if one already has FR and DE in the combination. So I can sleep peacefully at night

(10 Feb '14, 11:11) charlielee

Those stats are for SV and DA interpreter days, so SV and DA natives. As Gaspar says, there is some demand for SV and DA as a passive, though Danish is certainly very rarely spoken, so it's not terribly satisfying for colleagues who've made the effort to learn it.

(04 Apr '14, 02:20) Andy

There is a big market waiting as I can see. Nowadays business interpreting services are taken professional by the big business holders.

permanent link

answered 02 Apr '14, 20:25

lornacroft's gravatar image


Your answer
toggle preview

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Markdown Basics

  • *italic* or _italic_
  • **bold** or __bold__
  • link:[text]( "title")
  • image?![alt text](/path/img.jpg "title")
  • numbered list: 1. Foo 2. Bar
  • to add a line break simply add two spaces to where you would like the new line to be.
  • basic HTML tags are also supported

Question tags:


question asked: 02 Feb '14, 04:12

question was seen: 8,653 times

last updated: 04 Apr '14, 02:20

powered by OSQA