1999 – Project Fear!

1999 – Project Fear!

Following the Brexit referendum, there was a lot of controversy about how the Remain side had allegedly used “Project Fear” to persuade people that leaving the EU would be a catastrophe. It rather reminded me of a similar tactic employed in the run-up to the millennium year of 2000 when the experts confidently assured us the digital world was about to go to hell in a handcart thanks to the Millennium Bug.

Of course the threat to the world’s computers was a real one and had to be taken seriously so at Anglia, we had numerous requests from local companies to translate their “How to deal with the Millennium Bug” manuals. It was of particular concern here because Cambridge, then as now, is the hub of a huge number of scientific, software, pharmaceutical and high-end engineering companies. If their computers were compromised, so the story ran, companies could suffer potentially fatal consequences.

One result for Anglia was the now pressing need to assemble a panel of appropriately qualified linguists to address the threat. This is no easy matter, as all our linguists have to possess the relevant qualifications and experience and we have to test their abilities over time. This is a time-consuming and relatively expensive process but it does at least ensure that we and our clients can have perfect confidence in the quality of the translations that we offer.

In the event, the Millennium Bug turned out to be, thankfully, a bit of an overreaction but it had the useful consequence of companies tightening their computer systems and for us, of expanding our growing panel of expert translators.

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