An interview with Jorge Díaz Cintas, Senior Lecturer in Translation at Imperial College, London
© Michaela Fisnar-Keggler, 2010

Jorge Díaz Cintas was born in Barcelona, graduated in Modern Languages – English, German and French – at the University of Valencia, where he also obtained his doctorate in 1997 with a thesis on subtitling, the first ever written on the topic in Spain or in Spanish.

He has lived in England since 1989, teaching as an assistant and later as a visiting lecturer in several universities in London (South Bank, Kingston, London Institute). In 1994, he joined Roehampton University, where he developed a BA in Translation and an MA in Audiovisual Translation, one of the first ones in the UK. Since 2008 he’s been a Senior Lecturer in Translation at Imperial College London.

Jorge Díaz Cintas has written and edited numerous articles and books on audiovisual translation (see list at the end of this article*). Since 2002, he has been the president of the European Association for Studies in Screen Translation (
ESIST) and he belongs to the editorial boards of several translation journals. He is a member of the international research groups TransMedia and Trama.


Michaela: What exactly does AVT stand for?

Jorge Díaz Cintas: From a theoretical perspective, AVT is a scholarly field of study within the wider discipline of Translation Studies. Traditionally, it was considered to be a branch of translation parallel to literary or drama translation. One of the downsides of this perception is that the whole area was equated with the translation of films and many scholars used to refer to it as Film Translation or Cinema Translation. However, this is clearly a terminological misconception. AVT cannot be categorised only in terms of the genres it deals with, i.e. films, as it is obvious that audiovisual translators work with a panoply of programmes such as documentaries, DVD extras, sitcoms, advertisements, cartoons, reality shows, etc. Nor can it be restricted to cinema, as there are many other media that also resort to AVT to make their programmes available to foreign audiences, namely but not solely television and internet.

By way of a definition, AVT is a translational practice that works with source texts that combine two communication channels, audio and visual, and in this sense it stands in contradistinction with written translation or interpreting.

As for the activities subsumed within AVT, the main traditional ones are:

  • subtitling

  • dubbing

  • voiceover

  • narration

  • interpreting

In the 1990s, the field of accessibility to the media for people with sensory impairments was adopted as part of AVT and has proved to be one of the most fruitful and dynamic areas in recent years. Here, we can distinguish the following three main activities:

  • subtitling for the deaf and the hard-of-hearing (SDH)

  • audio description for the blind and the partially sighted (AD)

  • sign language interpreting




The 4th International Media for All ConferenceAudiovisual Translation: Taking Stock aims to bring together professionals, scholars, practitioners and other interested parties to explore audiovisual translation (AVT) in theory and practice, to ascertain the language needs of distributors and broadcasters, to discuss the linguistic and cultural dimensions of AVT, to look into potential synergies between the industry and the academic worlds, and to investigate the relevance and application of translation theory for this very specific and rapidly expanding translational genre. Special attention will be given to the notion of accessibility to information and to the social and economic implications of implementing appropriate quality standards.

Conference venue

The 3 day conference, 29 June – 1 July 2011, will take place at Senate House.

Workshops venue

The workshops will be held at the Department of Humanities at Imperial College London on 28 June 2011. The topics and prices can be found here.

Official Language



Through papers, panels, and round-table discussions, we hope to investigate these issues and to be able to promote new perspectives. We are inviting presentations reflecting the developments of our rapidly changing times within the scope of the themes listed below, and with a focus on audiovisual translation and media accessibility:

  1. Language transfer on screen: dubbing, interpreting, narration, opera and theatre surtitling, subtitling, voice-over, localisation, fandubbing, fansubbing
  2. Media access / cultural access: subtitling for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, live subtitling, respeaking, audio description, audio subtitling, sign language interpreting
  3. Innovation and new technologies: formats, platforms, 3D
  4. AVT in the global market: production and distribution, new trends, tools, needs, project management
  5. Professional practice: labour market, working conditions, standardisation and harmonisation, productivity, costs
  6. Professional ethics: public image of translators, relationship with clients and public organisations, the role of professional organisations, intellectual property rights, crowdsourcing and amateur translation
  7. Lobbies, policies, legislation, law enforcement and audience involvement
  8. History of AVT
  9. Quality standards and quality assurance
  10. Literacy and language learning/acquisition
  11. AVT research, old and new: globalisation, cultural transfer and nationalism
  12. Different (interdisciplinary) approaches (cognitive psychology, linguistics, discourse analysis, cultural studies, film studies...)
  13. Reception research and audience needs, broadcasting for minority audiences
  14. Censorship and manipulation
  15. AVT training: curricula, new needs, standards, didactics and skills