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Back Translation: process by which a translator interprets a document previously translated into another language back to the original language.

CAT Tool / “Computer Assisted Translation”: a CAT tool is a software that helps the translator translate documents more efficiently by storing and suggesting previously translated terms.

Glossary: multilingual database that stores client or subject-specific terminology.

Localisation: process of adapting a text for a given language, culture or region.

Machine Translation: translation carried out exclusively by a machine, with no human input.

Post-Edited Machine Translation: machine translation with proofing and editing by a human translator.

Quality assurance: non-linguistic check of the translation process of checking every stage of the translation process in order to ensure the desired levels of quality have been met. For example, ensuring numbers and capitalisation have been correctly replicated, no translations are missing and terms or phrases have not been translated inconsistently.

Style guide: a document that records the stylistic preferences that a client wishes to apply to their translations.

Summary translation: translation of only the key points of the source document(s).

Text analysis: analysis of the source document(s) for possible linguistic ambiguities which will need to be clarified with the client.

Transcreation: adaptation of a creative work into another language or culture. Focuses on capturing the desired persuasive or emotive effect of the original.

Translation Memory: bilingual database that stores segments of texts and corresponding translations.

Website and User Acceptance Testing: final testing of the overall technical functionality of a website/software from a user’s point of view – important when translating digital material into many languages.

Subtitling & voiceover

Burn-in: process of permanently adding subtitles on a video, so that they are displayed automatically.

Subtitling: translation displayed at the bottom of the screen, in a film or television broadcast.

Transcription: process of transferring audio speech to obtain a written textconverting the spoken word to the written word.

Voiceover: translated voice of an unseen narrator or visible character speaking.


‘Chuchotage’ (or ‘whisper interpreting’): participants speak without pauses and the interpreter translates what is being said for you in a low voice.

Consecutive Interpreting: spoken Translation. Ideal for meetings, consecutive interpreting happens over sections of speech. Here the interpreter waits for a suitable break (when the speaker has stopped) before delivering the speech in the target language.

Simultaneous Interpreting: spoken Translation. Ideal for conferences presentations: Simultaneous interpreting happens momentarily after the original sentence has been spoken. This will require full audio link for the audience; Dialogue canyour supplier should be able to organise all equipment for you. Note, you will normally need to have two interpreters for simultaneous interpreting, who will work as a team.

Language training

Affective filter hypothesis: a theory put forward by a linguistics expert Stephen Krashen in the 1970’s/80’s that basically says the more motivation, self-confidence and comfortable you feel, the more you will progress in a second language. More importantly, the converse is also true!

Behaviourist approach: learning a language by imitation, context and repetition; similar to the way you learnt your own language as a child.

CEFR: a framework that helps describe language ability by defining what people ‘can do’ in a language rather than how much vocabulary or how many tenses they have learned.

Cognitive Approach: using logic, applying series of rules to learning a language; the classic approach that most of us remember. Here are some grammar rules. Here’s a text. Now translate it. Perhaps the oldest approach to language learning!

Communicative approach: A 1970’s methodology to learning languages, where real interaction/communication is achieved between the students. It’s not just ‘language for the sake of it’. Task-based learning can form an integral part of this approach. The new language skills (perhaps ways to give advice, vocabulary, negation, future tense) often emerge from the lesson as it progresses, as the task is being performed.

DaF: Deutsch als Fremdsprache. German as a foreign language. German equivalent of EFL. Used in private language schools based in Germany and course books.

Deductive learning: the ‘old school’ approach to language learning “Here’s a set of rules. Can you see how they work? Now apply them to this situation.”

EFL: English as Foreign Language. Often considered as English training for non-natives, who have relocated to the UK, usually on a short- to medium-term basis. Think people on secondment, university course or summer school.

ELE: Español como Lingua Extranjera. Spanish as a foreign language. Spanish equivalent of EFL. Used in private language schools based in Spanish-speaking countries and by course books.

ESL: English as Second Language. Now a term more often used in North America, but with the same kind of focus as ESOL in the UK.

ESOL: English for Speakers of Other Languages. Often considered as English training for non-natives, who have migrated to the UK and who are intending to stay for the rest of their lives. Think local not-for-profit education colleges, students wanting to take the UK visa exams and covering “skills for life”.

FLE: Français Langue Etrangère. French as a foreign language. French equivalent of EFL. Used in private language schools based in French-speaking countries and by course books.

Inductive Learning: the discovery approach. As a learner you see some new language and work out the pattern or rules for yourself. “What’s the similarity here in these different sentences? What’s the purpose of them? Now experiment with them in the following situations and see if you can make them work for yourself.”

Language acquisition: absorbing a language naturally, by seeing things in context, seeing what works, experimenting and ultimately arriving at meaningful interaction in some form. Student-centred and less conscious.

Language learning: taking a series of rules in the target language and applying them consciously to language. Teacher-centred and conscious.

Lexical approach: language training methodology (conceived by linguist Richard Lewis in the 1980’s), where students are encouraged to see language less as grammar but more as linguistics phrases or chunks. Think of the English expression “first of all”: you don’t need to know that it’s an adverbial phrase made up of an adverb, preposition and pronoun. It’s just what you say to start a description of a process. Many students of English think “first of all” is actually written “festival” for this reason.