English can often be recognized as a common language shared by many individuals of differing linguistic backgrounds. The language is relatively easy to grasp making it possible to communicate with foreign speakers during daily interactions. However, it is important to understand that certain words can be lost in translation from English into another language, and vice-versa. Oftentimes, a direct adaptation for every word or phrase is not possible in any language. Just as certain words are difficult to translate from German to English, the same could be said for some English words to be translated into another language. We must take a look at the fundamental differences in linguistics that will limit a direct translation of words.

Why are some English words difficult to translate?

Every language is unique. For this reason, a direct translation of specific words commonly used in the English language is not directly translatable in other languages. We must understand that just as how humour can be interpreted differently in another culture, specific words can have completely different meanings in another language, or even cease to exist! Specific languages will have different ways of communicating a specific word. There are linguistic limitations for every type of language, and as such, specific words cannot be directly translated with the equivalent meaning in another language. Such limitations are not unique to the English language, but rather for all language groups.

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Which words are difficult to translate from English into another language?

So exactly what type of English words are difficult to translate into another language? Let’s take the word “jinx” into consideration. This common term is widely used in the English language to refer to an individual that is plagued with bad luck. But as discussed previously, this word is represented by a completely different term in another language. For instance, the word for “jinx” does not exist in the German language. In fact, an equivalent translation for the word, jinx is the term, “bewitched.” Furthermore, the context in which the word is used will alter the meaning of the word, making it a difficult word to translate. An example of this is the word “shallow,” which can have two different meanings in the English language. Depending on the context of the sentence, the word can refer to things with little depth or as a negative trait that describes a superficial individual. This can be especially difficult for a foreign speaker to comprehend without the knowledge of the English language.

So how do we go about translating difficult English words?

When individuals are tasked was translating difficult English words into a foreign language, they must rely on the services of a professional translator. Only an expert with the full grasp of both the source and target languages will be capable of translating difficult English words. Linguistic experts with the proficiency of the foreign language can accurately discern the meaning of the source word and find an equivalent term in the target language. Although a direct translation is not always possible, a professional translator will work to communicate a message or meaning that is consistent with the context of the source text.

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