14th CTS Professionalisation Talk - Translating and Editing at the European Central Bank

Talk and Editing Workshop with Charlotte Riddle and CTS alumnus, Matt Hopkins - linguists at the European Central Bank.

We were joined by Charlotte Riddle and CTS alumnus, Matt Hopkins, who outlined what it was like to work as a linguist at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt am Main and gave us some information on upcoming traineeship opportunities at the ECB. Some students were also treated to a workshop on editing.

Our visitors began by outlining what the ECB does, which consists of maintaining price stability and keeping inflation below, but  close to 2%, including setting interest rates every six weeks, and banking supervision. The English Translation and Editing Section, where both Matt and Charlotte work, is embedded in Directorate General Communications, which means they also work closely with the global media relations, web and digital, and outreach teams. This makes the work exciting, as it means they often have to translate or edit speeches, interviews and press releases, which can be very high profile and may end up being picked up on by the media - they sometimes see their words on the front page!

A surprising fact that Charlotte and Matt mentioned was that a lot of their tasks are not actually translation based, but are centred on editing English written by non-native speakers, because English is the main working language of the ECB. In the workshop, they mentioned that some of the features of non-native English may include:

 -incorrect grammar or collocations

-limited vocabulary

-confused register: mixing formal and informal English

-mixing US and UK English

-interference (false friends and syntax)

 They also mentioned, however, that even the English native speakers were not perfect and errors that they always check for regardless of the author include:

 -typos (it happens to the best of us…)

-inaccuracies of the facts and figures included in the text

-omissions of information

-redundancy (where a sentence can be made more concise) 

-poor writing

Despite the focus on editing, translation still plays a big part in the day to day tasks of linguists working at the ECB, as does proofreading and peer-reviewing the work of other linguists. The texts they work with range from interviews, press releases and speeches to MEP letters, reports and web content, so it really is very varied - something that Charlotte noted she really enjoyed about the role.

One of the reasons Charlotte and Matt came to Leeds was to make students aware of an upcoming traineeship in the English Translation and Editing department. It is similar to an internship and is a great opportunity for students to learn how to edit and translate documents at the ECB under the guidance of a mentor. The closing date for applications is 10 April (more information can be found here)

In addition, there is a vacancy for a trainee terminologist/language technician. Both Charlotte and Matt encouraged any students that are interested to apply!

Thanks for coming to Leeds, Matt and Charlotte!

ECB website


Charlotte Riddle

Matthew Hopkins


Summary written by CTS Students Emma Tamlyn (@EmmaTamlyn), Anwen Roys (@anwen_roys), Fred Zhuang and Bethan Attwood (@francobethan)