Popular science writing is an act of translation. This is true especially in writing about physics, whose mathematical language is far from everyday speech. But the industry of physics writing might promise more than it can deliver, particularly when it tries to offer descriptions of fundamental physical reality that, so we are sometimes told, dispel the illusions we get from ordinary experience. As with translating literary works from their original language into another, we need to ask the question of translatability — of whether and how a concept or theory in physics can be rendered in ordinary language. Straightforward description may be more elusive than we assume.