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4 Hard Issues in the English Language for Non-Native Speakers

4 Challenges the English Language Throws out at Translators

2:54 min read
  Yigal Ben Efraim  —  Grammar Tips
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Did you know that the letter “e” is the most frequently used symbol in English? Or
that the majority of the English words start with the letter “s”? And oh, here is a
good one: the most commonly used words in English are “you” and “I”.
Interesting, isn’t it? This language is literally full of surprises. But these are just
interesting facts that can only amuse you but have no influence on your everyday

However, there are some peculiarities that can put a spoke in the wheel, especially
for the translators who interpret English without being native speakers. Today, we
are going to consider challenges that, say, a Spanish translation service may be
faced with, and analyze how to avoid problems that come with them. So, here we

1. Homonyms

Yeah, the English language is full of those: “wound” (injury) and “wound” (past
participle of “to wind”), “tear” (salty water drops from our eyes) and “to tear” (to
destroy by pulling apart), “affect” and “effect”, “ate” and “eight”, etc. These can be
words that are written in the same way but are pronounced differently or the words
that have identical spelling and pronunciation, or lexemes that have different letter
sets, but sound the same. The most important thing is that if something feels off in
your text and that meaning of the word that you know doesn’t fit, always check
online for details.

2. Words That Have No Equivalents in Other Languages

Just imagine that you work for a French translation service, and you need to
translate an article from English that contains words like “bromance”, “pimp” or
“iFinger”. Well, the most optimal variant for you would be to use the method of
description or find in your native language something similar. But be ready for the

situation when you need to spend a considerable amount of time on translating just
one word.

3. Phrasal Verbs

Always be alert when you meet phrasal verbs in your texts – they can be very
mean sometimes. Just think about the word “to come” that everybody knows. And
now remember the phrase “to come across” which stands for bumping into
someone or something. If you’re able to spot this slight details that change the
meaning of sentences, you are a decent translator and can be proud of yourself.

4. Cobwebs of English Tenses

Be sure that you understand why this or that tense is used in the text you have to
translate. Do you understand when “would” is used as a modal verb and when it’s
just Future in the Past? The thing is that there can be a lot of hidden reefs,
especially in the sentences with many clauses. Make sure you follow the main
thread and can interpret the tense changes. Well, that’s at least what people

These are the main problems you may encounter while digging through English
texts. Despite the development of the advanced technologies and the appearance of
different software, human help with the language is still valued and the services in
this sphere may be cheap and useful. So, catch this wave while it’s still on, and
reach professional translation service You can order to translate not
only the entire document but only a few passages. Our experts know how to make
the text quality, even if you need to translate rare language. Also, feel free to ask us
to edit your translation and gain new skills.
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