This refers to the tendency of translation not to live up to claims made for it. We might also formulate it like this: the more pretentious or grandiose the claims, the less likely the translation is to fail in quite spectacular ways.
Another formulation: when there is a claim to "equivalence," but the equivalence pulls us in the opposite direction, something is amiss. So, for example, if there were a claim that the equivalent of a baroque style was a plainspoken one...
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