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When the best translation means something completely different

I was having difficulty translating German Überwachungspotenzial for a detector system. “Monitoring potential” sounds so translationese, as does “potencial de vigilancia” in Spanish. Then I realised that in English we talk about “coverage”, a quite different solution to the meaning. And in Spanish it’s just “cobertura”. Now it sounds natural.

I find it very interesting how technology in “importing” countries can have several expressions based on the language of the exporter. Thus, “cuadro de detección” from English “detection panel” but “central de señalización” from German “Meldezentrale”, which is exactly the same piece of equipment.

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