Common Pitfalls in Translation

Ever wondered what the common pitfalls in translation are? Language Direct can deliver quality translation of every kind, while making sure we avoid these dangers.


Professional translation is challenging because it can be tricky sometimes. Considering that pitfalls in translationsome of the texts may be too short or too long, a professional translator should take time to understand and analyze the context so it would be translated accurately.  It requires precision and expertise in different languages otherwise, this could lead to translators in committing fatal errors.

Pitfalls in Translation Defined

The Layer

This is one of the most common pitfalls in translation that beginners commit.   The layer is to translate a word, phrase or turn directly from the source language into the target language.  Sometimes you tend to translate the given passage word for word that’s why one must be careful of false friends as they could be misleading.

False friends are those words that look the same but don’t mean the same.  One example is when  you translate the word “constipation” in English with the co- existing word “constipacion” in Spanish that means “the blocking of the nasal conducts.”  Using that Spanish word to translate the English word “constipation” will result to a different meaning of the sentence and as well as the whole new context to the document you are translating.

A Layer error could result in bad translation that can lead to contradiction or worse, nonsense.


This is another translation pitfall where the translator writes a word that does not exists in the language.  This is more of an error in morphology than an error in syntax.


This is when you create or build a syntax that does not exist in the language.


As the name suggests, this is a misinterpretation which have resulted from a translation that is different from what was stated.  This is a major fault (depending on whether the contradiction is in a sentence or in a whole paragraph) which can be very serious. Imagine, the phrase “he wants to make peace”, from a diplomatic context, it translates into “he wants to wage war”   would be a translation disaster.


A nonsense translation is deemed worthless as it mainly shows that the translator has not read or understood the text.


This an error caused by neglect.  As a professional translator, you should always try to fill the void according to the general meaning of the passage, and always remember that just by omitting a word could affect the sentence you are trying to translate and omitting a sentence could create a contradiction.

A professional translator should focus on the task at hand and follow the translation guidelines. Remember the general translation tips and let that guide you.  Most importantly, practice and improve your linguistic skills.  There may be a lot of pitfalls in translation but all of these can be avoided.

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