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EU Translation Guide: Beware of false friends, jargon and abbreviations – Avoid or explain jargon

EU Translation GuideJargon is vocabulary used by any group of insiders or specialists to communicate with each other, and is acceptable in documents which are only read by that group.

However, outsiders (especially the general public) will have to work harder than they need to or want to when reading jargon. Some readers may even stop reading – so make sure that any document you want outsiders to read is as jargon-free as possible.

And if you DO have to use jargon terms in documents for the general public, explain them when you first use them, or add a glossary, a hyperlink or a reference to one of the websites indicated at the bottom of this page.

This non-exhaustive list contains a number of terms commonly used in the EU institutions:

  • Jargon term = Suggested definition
  • acceding country = country about to join the EU
  • acquis (communautaire) = body of EU law
  • candidate country = country still negotiating to join the EU
  • cohesion = approach aimed at reducing social and economic disparities within the EU
  • comitology = procedure under which the Commission consults committees of experts
  • Community method = method developed for taking decisions in the EU, where the Commission, Parliament and Council work together
  • enlargement = expansion of the EU to include new members
  • mainstreaming = taking into account in all EU policies
  • proportionality = principle that a level of government must not take any action that exceeds that necessary to carry out its assigned tasks
  • subsidiarity = principle that, wherever possible, decisions must be taken at the level of government closest to citizens

Clear explanations of much jargon can be found in the ‘Plain Language Guide to Eurojargon’ section on the Europa website (http://europa.eu/abdeurojargon/index_en.htrn).

For definitions of more technical and legal terms arising in an EU context, see the online Europa Glossary (http://europa.eu/scadplus/glossary/index_en.htrn).

Source: European Commission

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