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…but there’s a prize for anyone who can come up with a direct translation, as suggested at the end of this blog!

One of the intriguing things about being a translator is how to translate a phrase or word that has no exact equivalent in the other language.

An American company has recently run an advertising campaign using the idea of “sin traducción” or “untranslatable”. They show moments in life that are capable of being explained in a short word or phrase in Spanish that cannot be so easily captured in an English word or phrase. Nevertheless, by watching the videos anyone can understand the atmosphere or life moment that is being experienced.

It’s interesting and shows clearly how we can all relate to emotions, but for some reason in some languages there is a single word or short phrase for a feeling, and in another language there isn’t. That can make it difficult to get a direct translation from one language to another. Sometimes the solution is just to borrow the word from another language and incorporate it into one’s own – “bon appétit” for example or “Weltschmertz”. When translating a text it is perfectly acceptable to use the original word with a footnote to give a more detailed translation, so as to not break the flow. It helps keep the atmosphere of the original language, too.

In this video, part of the campaign being run by Target, the word “arrullo” is featured. It means … um… well, I’m not a Spanish translator, so just watch the video – then let us know how you would translate it – there’s a prize for the best!