7 Common Challenges professional Translators Face on a Daily Basis.

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Language Structure

There is a unique structure to every language. The range of simplicity and accuracy of the translation is found in the structure of language. The more simple a language is it becomes more easy to translate.

An example of a simple sentence in English is “They chew food.” this sentence has a subject, verb and object in that order. But this not so in other languages like Persian, it follows a different order.” some languages like Arabic, the verb and the subject pronoun (they) is joined: “Yaikoloon allahom.” the single word “they” is the “-oon” found at the end of the word (Yaikloon) . In another language like Farsi, a simple sentence is comprises of a subject, object, and a verb: “Anha goosht mikhorand

Idioms and expressions

By using examples or figures of speech,  Idiomatic expressions can be easily explained. Google Translate will not be able to translate somethings because they belong solely to human communication. To me, the most difficult things to translate are idioms. They are easily misleading, although they may seem transparent and easy because they offer a literal interpretation that is reasonable and their hidden meanings are not usually indicated in the surrounding text, for example “to take someone for a ride.” for translating idioms, familiarity with that culture is useful.

Compound Words

words that are made of two or more words are known as compound words. The general  meaning of the word may not reflect the meaning of any of those words. Personally, compound are broken into three major groups:

The first mean what exactly they say “seashore,”  “underground” “afternoon,” “anytime,”etc

The second mean only half of what is been said, literally: “bellboy” means a boy and not one who appears when the bell is rang?

The third involves words that have meanings that are not related with the meanings of the single words being used. For instance, the English “deadline” means the final acceptable time to receive or deliver something and it has nothing to do with a line or death. Another example is a “butterfly” it has nothing to do with a fly nor butter.

Missing Names

A word for a certain action or object that exists in another language may not be found in another language. For example in America, the word “guest room” is usually found in most houses, this is a room where guests are allowed to sleep but there is no single word for it, so we use its description, “guest room”. But in other languages there are very specific name for that room, like the Greek call it “ksnona”, while other languages requires about three words to describe it: like Italian call it camera per gliospiti.

Two-Word Verbs

Two words verbs is a combination of a verb and a preposition, that have a specific meaning when used. In informal English, two-word verbs are usually common like, “close up,” “bring up,” “look up,” “break in” “break down” and so on.  it is not necessary or appropriate to translate the preposition separately, in many cases.

Multiple Meanings

depending upon how they are used in a sentence most words have various meanings. words with multiple meanings are in two ways:

  1. Words that sound alike, they are also called homographic homophones or homonyms, for example, “scale” in a sentence might mean “Scale found on a fish or weighing it on the scale.”

  1. Words that sound different also called homographic heterophones or heteronyms, for example, “windy” in a sentence might mean “I drove down the windy road or on a windy day.”


When translated word-for-word sarcasm loses its meaning. It is a bitter, sharp way of making a remark or expression that mean something totally different from what people say. Even a literal translation of sarcasm would only express the complete opposite of what the speaker intended to pass across.

In some languages, it has two faces the informal and formal, especially in Farsi, my native language. When I was contracted to translate an app for the World Cup from English to Farsi. I remember that the job has a lot of idioms, sarcasm and slang that makes no sense when translated. So in order to make the app highly effective as possible, I translated the slang and idioms to Persian slang expressions and it worked.

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