Translation Can Mean the Difference Between Jumping and Climbing Out the Window

February 07, 2013

By Ofer Tirosh


In a recent blog post by Juan Aceves from Media Post Blogs, we learned yet again that a simple mis-translation can change the entire meaning of a story.

In a book from Jonas Jonasson that was translated from Swedish into Spanish and also from Swedish into English, certain parts of the story changed completely. In this case, it meant the difference between a man climbing out a window and jumping out a window. 

Blogger Aceves summed it up when he said, “The title variations led to curiosities. Why is the protagonist in the Spanish translation a grandfather, while in English simply a 100-year-old man? Is it because Spanish speakers are more family oriented? Furthermore, why does the protagonist “jump” out of the window and “take off” in the Spanish version, while in English he “climbs” out and passively “disappears?” 

This illustrates why syntax needs to be taken into consideration anytime a book, document or website is translated.  In order for a company to take their message, brand or product global, it is of the utmost importance that the message isn’t lost in translation!

You can read more from Juan Aceves at the following blog;



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