Literal translation

word-by-word translation of a text

Literal translation is the translation of text from one language to another "word-for-word", rather than giving the sense of the original. For this reason, literal translations usually mis-translate idioms.

For example, a literal English translation of the German word "Kindergarten" would be "garden of children", but in American English the expression refers to the school year between pre-school and first grade. The history of the word may also help. It was coined in 1840 by Friedrich Fröbel in the metaphorical sense of “place where children can grow in a natural way”, not in the literal sense of “garden”.

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