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Ten Concepts That Are Surprisingly Difficult to Translate

The translation of a single word can be a minefield, and a misstep can lead to disaster. Here are ten hard-to-translate concepts.
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stressful young businesswoman
stressful young businesswoman

To most people, the process of translation sounds easy. Just take a phrase and one language and convert it into another, just like online translation tools do, right?

If only it were so simple! The reality is that even the translation of a single word can be a minefield, and a misstep can lead to disaster. The difficulty of translation also depends on what language you start in and what language you are working into, because some languages lack linguistic equivalents for concepts that are foreign to their culture.

What follows is a list of ten difficult-to-translate concepts taken from my new book, Found in Translation (Perigee Trade, $16)