... am I missing something?
You're missing what BrowserUk said here, an approach that processes an entire line at a time.
The next part to think about is what happens if you encounter a 'word' in a line that doesn't exist in your translation hash, e.g., the line
(hints: exists, next, maybe // (defined-or) or ?: (ternary/conditional operator) – see perlop for the latter two).
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