• Abby

An update – life in the editing unit

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been living and working in Luxembourg for a month and a half! The good news is that my traineeship has been extended by three months, so I will be sticking around until the end of March. The even-better news is that my three office buddies have also been offered an extension, and that I have found a new, cheaper room for January – in a house with only one other person (as opposed to 13 housemates!) and a shorter commute. Can’t wait for moving day!


It turns out that I am not brilliant at blogging regularly, and as a result there is so much to catch you all up on that I don’t know where to start! Rather than trying to sum up my experience so far, it seems easier to tell you about what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks. Baby steps!

Some of Luxembourg's European institutions, including the European Parliament, where my traineeship took place.

So, after spending my first six weeks here learning the ropes in the English and Irish translation unit, I have recently moved to the Editing Unit for a three-week placement. The unit is relatively new, since it was set up in 2012 to deal with the growing number of texts written in English; when the unit was established, over half of Parliament’s original texts were being drafted in English by native and non-native speakers. So I am not using my foreign languages at the moment – editing involves correcting errors in English usage and grammar, checking over documents before they are published. Knowledge of other languages is useful when working with texts by non-native speakers, though; it is easier to understand the author’s intentions and to spot any ‘false friends’. For example, if a French native-speaker writes ‘actually, I am working on my English’, they may mean ‘currently’, the French word for which is ‘actuellement’.


My first impression of editing is that it is a very different challenge to translation. Owing to the nature of editing, the deadlines are much shorter and I will revise more texts a day than I would translate. I thought that I knew pretty much all there is to know about the English language, but I’m learning new things every day – house style points, of course, but also bits of grammar and rules on usage, learning to pay attention to nuances or slips in meaning that are easy to overlook. My hope is that, when I return to the Translation Unit in December, I will be able to apply what I have learnt to my work there and improve the revision of my own translations.


In other news, next week the trainees are going on a trip to Strasbourg to visit Parliament during a plenary session. Plenary sessions happen once a month, and it’s when the 751 elected MEPs meet in Strasbourg or Brussels. You can find out more about it here if you’re interested!  I’ve been looking forward to this trip since I arrived, so I’m quite excited!


Abby x 

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