Todmorden High School column: A trip to Brussels

The EU Commission
The EU Commission

Year 11 senior prefect Kyra was given the opportunity to travel to Brussels, Belgium, in the October half-term to undertake a work experience placement with the translation team at the European Commission.

Kyra’s ambition is to become a translator so this was a fantastic opportunity for her. Here is her story.

Todmorden High School amazingly arranged for me to go to Brussels. The reason for this was that one of the big translating companies, DG1, have an office there.

During my work experience I shadowed a lovely woman by the name of Marina who spoke four languages and was learning Polish and Estonian.

After this revelation she introduced me to her colleague who spoke no fewer than 12 languages!

I found that at this company the average number of languages each employee spoke was six. As someone who doesn’t speak even two, I was impressed.

I learnt during this informative day that translating is a completely separate field to interpreting (which I have also been interested in) and that translating is only ever reading and of course translating, whereas interpreting is with speech.

At DG1, translating documents (fairly important ones at that) are only ever translated into the employees’ mother tongue - English.

There was only one person at DG1 who was not from England and her English was strong enough for her to be able to translate.

Translating requires not only a deep understanding of the source language but also the language you are translating into. Direct translations are not permitted due to idioms and phrases that wouldn’t make sense in another language.

The rule is to convey the same information, not the same vocabulary. Thus those employed must know how to find phrases from their own language suitable for phrases used in the first document.

The employees earn on average £30,000 a year and it is highly competitive to secure employment there. You need to speak at least two European languages and there are a lot of people competing for a position there. I learnt a lot throughout the day and thoroughly enjoyed myself.