Translator's Profile | Translation | European Parliament

Profile

Translation is moving rapidly towards an enhanced and broader role for professionals with high-level intercultural and linguistic skills. Here are the key skills, knowledge and competences required to become a translator:
  • In-depth language knowledge and cultural awareness;
  • Writing skills;
  • IT skills;
  • Creativity;
  • Flexibility and adaptability;
  • Attention to detail;
  • Organisational skills;
  • Analytical and research skills;
  • General and specialised knowledge;
  • Curiosity and willingness to learn.
As a general rule, translators translate into their main language (mother tongue or equivalent). Our translators typically have a perfect command of their main language and sound foreign language skills in at least 2 other EU languages, but not necessarily the professional background of a linguist. Many of our translators have studied other subjects and come from very different professional backgrounds, which provides us with much appreciated expertise when translating texts on a wide variety of subjects.

In no other institution are the professional requirements as demanding as in the European Parliament: our translators must exhibit a combination of IT literacy, mental flexibility, linguistic diversity, translation speed and familiarity with current affairs. Texts on a huge variety of topics must often be translated to extremely tight deadlines. They can also be legally complex and require rapid understanding not only of the language used, but also of political intent and context.

Besides translation, translators are also involved in mentoring newcomers and trainees, revising translations produced both in-house and externally, participating in training programmes to keep up with the latest technological and professional developments, and learning new languages to broaden the linguistic profile of their respective language units.

As technology advances and gradually takes care of the routine tasks, translators are taking on new roles and developing new skills. The profile of staff is changing as they take on a more active role in producing content that is clear, engaging and appropriate for the intended audience and as they become more and more involved in cross-cutting projects in a variety of media. Skills in journalism, editing, clear writing and social media communication are increasingly in demand.

Who are we?

Edi ZELIĆ, Croatian-language translator

Edi ZELIĆ, Croatian-language translator

After studying political science and English language and literature, I worked for more than ten years as a journalist for various Croatian and German media outlets. Then I switched to the private sector where I was in charge of marketing and PR.
Since I grew up bilingual, I have always been involved in translation and multilingualism, especially in the multicultural environment in which I grew up and those in which I studied and worked.
In my opinion, the EU motto 'United in diversity' cannot be achieved without the art of translation. For me, the biggest challenge is the need to find a compromise between respecting the source text and the inevitable adaptation to the target language and target group.


Niina HAVU, Finnish-language translator

Niina HAVU, Finnish-language translator

Translation? It was love at first sight. I had always wanted to learn foreign languages and to live abroad. I did my MA in Finland and France and an Erasmus exchange in Wales.
My career as an EU translator in Luxembourg started at the European Parliament and continued at the Court of Auditors - and then I returned to Parliament. My work has changed over the years: radio flash news and podcasts are the latest thing. Machines have come in to help translators, but, at the same time, they can also be perceived as a threat. I still believe that translators will be needed in the future.
As a translator at Parliament, I foster multilingualism and intercultural cooperation in Europe. EU countries' flags waving in the breeze still stir my heart.


Patrycja LASKOWSKA, Polish-language head of unit and former quality coordinator

Patrycja LASKOWSKA, Polish-language head of unit and former quality coordinator

With a background in applied linguistics and sociology, I have always wanted to work in a multicultural and multilingual environment. I first worked on EU pre-accession programmes, then at the Translation Centre in Luxembourg, before finally joining the European Parliament.
As a quality coordinator, I was responsible for quality assurance in the Polish Translation Unit. In other words, I coordinated all activities crucial for ensuring the quality of the translations we produce. As a head of unit, I am now responsible for a team of translators and assistants. The biggest challenge? Keeping pace with the dynamic environment we work in, but that is what I like best about this job.


Andrew WALKER, English-language translator

Andrew WALKER, English-language translator

I come from an entirely English background and no-one else in my family speaks foreign languages. I studied French and German at university and I became a translator because I liked working with languages and I seemed to be good at it. The biggest challenge for me is always producing real translations which convey the meaning of the original in idiomatic English. In recent years, I've had the opportunity to try to pass on what I know to our trainees - a great experience.

Emmanuel POCHET, French-language translator

Emmanuel POCHET, French-language translator

Belgium-born, but of partial Polish descent, I first learnt Polish from my 'babcia' (Polish for 'grandma') as a child and then Dutch, but soon also English and then German, my favourite foreign language so far. Quite unexpectedly, my degree in translation studies first got me a job teaching my native French in post-1990 Central Europe, a six-year-long working (and living) experience that I will never forget. Translation remained, however, my ultimate goal and, through EPSO, I eventually got into the Directorate-General for Translation in 2008. Over the years, I got to develop my languages and skills, learn new ones, give in-house training, help in the selection of new colleagues and assist in the development of new tools, among other things. Our profile has become increasingly technical, but also very much diversified. According to some, machine translation will equal human translation by 2027, but expect translators to still be around for a while yet!

Agnes DIJK, former Dutch-language translator at the European Parliament

Agnes DIJK, former Dutch-language translator at the European Parliament

I studied at the University of Amsterdam where I obtained a Master's in Modern Greek Language and Culture and in European Studies. During my studies I soon discovered how much I loved exploring the nuances of a new language and transposing them into my mother tongue.
Moving from Amsterdam to Athens, I worked as a translator for two embassies and as a freelancer. Being a translator is more than just translating words from one language into another. It's about putting across messages and connecting cultures.
In 2011 I came to Luxembourg to work as a translator for the European Parliament. Working for one of the biggest multilingual organisations in the world is exciting in many ways. I translate texts on a variety of topics from five different languages. I learn new vocabulary and phrases all the time and every time I do a translation, I learn something new from reading about and researching that topic.
Okay, so being a translator is not always an easy job. The workload is high and I often translate complicated legislation or technical reports. But even so, somewhere down the line, someone is going to be holding a document in their hands that they can read thanks to me. That's pretty cool, if you ask me!


A day in the life of a translator: Agnes Dijk, Dutch translator

Video presenting a typical day of a translator