One of the greatest problems for translators is translating concepts that simply do not exist in the other language or culture. Examples in Polish include kombinować or lustracja, województwo or szlachta zaściankowa. English examples include elevenses or hoody. There are different ways to attempt to translate these terms, but no translation can be regarded as truly equivalent. Of course, some may argue that no translation is ever truly equivalent, but there are equivalents that might be regarded as more (or less) faithful than other ones. We might also argue that there is a continuum of correctness that allows us to speak of a better or worse translation.
All of the words mentioned above can be translated in some way or other but that does not necessarily make them good equivalents. Kombinować might be to wheel and deal; lustracja might be lustration or vetting; województwo could be province or district; szlachta zaściankowa might be petty nobility or disenfranchised noblemen. On the other hand, elevenses might be drugie śniadanie and a hoody could be a łobuz or zbir. We might argue that all of these suggestions are poor and inadequate but we may also argue that they perform a certain function and they kind of do the job. Is this enough? Is translation always about doing enough? Should we be aiming for perfection, satisfaction, or adequacy?
Another fine example of a word which does not have an altogether elegant translation into English is the Polish koleiny. These are ruts in the road caused by poor tarmac surfaces being over-used making driving difficult and often extremely dangerous. Due to the poor quality of roads in Poland (especially in communist times) and weather extremities (hot summers, cold winters), the tarmac surfaces had/have a tendency to become soft and give under the weight of traffic. Problems in translation begin when we see road signs in Poland warning of koleiny. Could this be rendered as simply ruts? Or perhaps road ruts? Perhaps even grooves? It is only when we see this kind of road sign do we realise how difficult this could be to translate. German seems to have Spurrille as a possible equivalent. English however does not offer such contextual equivalence.