Translation isn’t easy—it’s not enough to simply speak two languages. With the exception of closely related languages or extremely concrete ideas, it’s rare that two words are exactly the same across languages—there’s a wealth of nuance and shades of meaning lurking behind each word.
Each language colors its words with unique cultural context, and abstract ideas can diverge quickly across languages. That means translation is a delicate art, not simply the mechanical word-for-word translation process that laypeople may imagine. Every language has its unique vocabulary that’s difficult to translate into other languages, and English is a particular star in this field, since the majority of new technological words are coined in English and borrowed by other languages. But it’s not just technology—English is filled with unique words that present difficulties to translators.
Slang words, which tend to represent the most creative area of a language, are particularly notorious for their translation difficulty—try saying “bromance” in German or “facepalm” in Japanese. Find out what other English words force translators to challenge their creativity in this infographic.
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