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When Translations Drift Away from Meaning

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©IXMATI Communications, 2023. The unauthorized use or duplication of this material without permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mari D. González or IXMATI Communications with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Drift Away

Drift Away (Photo credit: Charisma Jonesford)

The article “9 Little Translation Mistakes that Caused Big Problems”  by Arika Okrent has clear examples of wrong translations and the implications for intercultural communication, international relations, and marketing.

Interestingly enough, most examples in the article involved translators who translated into their second or third language and not into their native language. Food for thought.


  1. That is a really interesting observation. I can see your point of how a non-native translator might be prone to literal translation (as opposed to meaning-based translation), though that is not necessarily always true. Anyways, you’re right – it is definitely something to think about. Thanks for the article.

  2. Mari D. Gonzalez says:

    One can also argue that mistakes can be made even when we interpret into our native language but not into the country-specific language for target audience. For instance, my native language is Spanish from Mexico and I could be unaware of important local or colloquial terms for Peruvians or Colombians, thus would make similar mistakes. That’s when language localization comes into play.

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