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Off topic: Restaurant menu translation problems!
Thread poster: Catharine Cellier-Smart

Catharine Cellier-Smart  Identity Verified
Reunion
Local time: 00:53
Member (2010)
French to English
+ ...
Aug 17, 2012

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Two days ago I was at a local (Reunion; a French island) restaurant. This particular restaurant is one of the few that’s taken the trouble to translate its menu into English, however they insist on using internet translation and unfortunately that gives the following results:



For those that don’t speak French the Crotin [sic] de Chèvre Chaud should be ‘Warm Goat’s Cheese’ in English and not ‘warm goat dung’!

Another example from the same menu:



Here Souris [d'agneau] (knuckle of lamb) has been translated literally as ‘mouse’.

Things have improved however, as a few years ago filet was translated thoughout as ‘net’ instead of ‘fillet’, and cabot de fond (a type of fish) was translated as ‘dog bottom’!


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Tristan Jimenez  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:53
English to French
Entrées chaudes... Aug 17, 2012

Cold starters ? That's a good start !!

I have seen a lot of mistakes like that in many different restaurants in France, similar to the warm goat "dung"...

Here's a little story:
I used to eat about twice a week at a lovely restaurant in the Alpes. This was about 2 years ago.
I knew the owner quite well, so I offered him to translate his menu into English. I never translate documents into English, but I thought it would be more accurate than it was. And you know what? He refused!! Even for free!! He said he couldn't be bothered reprinting it again, and using machine translators was enough... People would understand it anyway. Unbelievable!
That's quite sad!

Thanks for sharing it.


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Catharine Cellier-Smart  Identity Verified
Reunion
Local time: 00:53
Member (2010)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Cold starters Aug 17, 2012

Yes I noticed the Entrées Chaudes/Cold starters - I think they just did a copy & paste from the previous page. The whole menu was full of mistakes, but the 'dung' made me laugh out loud.

Your restaurant owner in the Alps, Tristan, might have felt he already had enough business and didn't need any more. The other issue you find is that people think if their menu is too well-translated that customers expect staff to speak good English too, and that's not always the case.


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Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:53
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thym > Thin Aug 17, 2012

I'm not quite sure if the translation was done using google translator. I've just tried using automatic google translation:

Souris d'agneau rotie aux thym, sur lit de lentilles

Has been translated as:

Lamb shank roasted with thyme on a bed of lentils

Thym, translated as "thin" suggests me a bad human translator, or at least, a one that never cooked in his/her whole life.

Regards

Clarisa


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
If it walks like a duck... Aug 17, 2012

My local central market (Valencia, Spain) has recently been refurbished and many of the stalls have an internet panel where they can use Google translate to explain the goods to their customers from different countries. So they end up with things like "juice of handle" (mango juice) or "Palm cheese" (cheese from La Palma in the Canary Isles). However, I haven't seen anything about "crottins de chevre" (one of my favourite treats, roasted) yet!

Apparently the Japanese translations aren't too bad, and tourist visitors who used to simply look and take photos now tend to buy more produce so it can't be all bad - and we get a good laugh from the mistakes into the bargain!


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Catharine Cellier-Smart  Identity Verified
Reunion
Local time: 00:53
Member (2010)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Clarisa Aug 17, 2012

It's not human translation, they confirmed to me that they'd used internet translation.

When I pointed out the 'dung' mistake to them their reaction was more or less to shrug their shoulders as if to say "well this is what internet said so it must be right"!

I too was perplexed by the thyme/thin translation.


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Carmen Grabs
Germany
Local time: 21:53
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
Light menu Aug 17, 2012

In Slovakia, where I was born, the word "obloha" can mean two things:

1. side dish/salad garnish/side salad (everything that is on the plate around the main part of the food

2. cloud (the one in the sky)


So, the Slovak name for the menu was "vyprážaný syr s oblohou" and translated: Fried cheese with side salad

And they wrote it in English as: Fried cheese with cloud


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Miloš Stojadinović  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 21:53
Member (2011)
Serbian to English
+ ...
... Aug 17, 2012

Clarisa Moraña wrote:

I'm not quite sure if the translation was done using google translator. I've just tried using automatic google translation:

Souris d'agneau rotie aux thym, sur lit de lentilles

Has been translated as:

Lamb shank roasted with thyme on a bed of lentils

Thym, translated as "thin" suggests me a bad human translator, or at least, a one that never cooked in his/her whole life.

Regards

Clarisa



I don't want to go off topic (hmm... hey, this is an off topic forum), but I think that this proves that machine translation is changing (I won't use the word "evolving").


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Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:53
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Or perhaps, they did not use Google Translator. Aug 18, 2012

Miloš Stojadinović wrote:

Clarisa Moraña wrote:

I'm not quite sure if the translation was done using google translator. I've just tried using automatic google translation:

Souris d'agneau rotie aux thym, sur lit de lentilles

Has been translated as:

Lamb shank roasted with thyme on a bed of lentils

Thym, translated as "thin" suggests me a bad human translator, or at least, a one that never cooked in his/her whole life.

Regards

Clarisa



I don't want to go off topic (hmm... hey, this is an off topic forum), but I think that this proves that machine translation is changing (I won't use the word "evolving").



The same sentence, translated by Reverso:
Knuckle of lamb rotie in thyme, on bed of lenses


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Derrio  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
A little knowledge... Aug 18, 2012

… can be dangerous. Here in Ibiza, lots of bars/cafés have boards outside advertising their wares. One of my favorites was "Jam and Cheese" croissants (Jamón y queso) which should be "Ham and Cheese". It's not machine translation, just someone with a little knowledge of English.

Slightly off the topic, but my local supermarket places a Union Jack over 'British Products' it has in stock, which in successive weeks were 'Belgian Chocolate Shortbread', 'Dolmio Pasta Sauce', 'Mango Chutney' and 'Kidney Beans', which admittedly says more about British food habits then lack of cultural knowledge!!

Tristan, I had the same experience a few years ago when I stayed at a hostel in a beautiful part of Mallorca (Cala Mondragó) where I offered to re-do their website and brochure which was pretty bad. Their response was pretty much the same - it was done by someone who always did their translations so why should they change it. She was German, which is a whole different thread altogether!!!


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Maria Dimitrova  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 22:53
Member (2011)
Bulgarian to English
+ ...
Funny example from my country Aug 18, 2012

In Bulgaria we have a traditional sausage called "banski starets" /it is a kind of sausage made of chopped meat/, which literally means "Old man from Bansko" /Bansko is a mountain resort in Bulgaria/. Once, while looking at a menu, I discovered this dish mistranslated into English "grilled old man from Bansko". I wonder if anyone not speaking Bulgarian would ever order this

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Laura Hastings  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:53
English to Spanish
+ ...
From Peru Aug 30, 2012

We were on a trip to Peru a couple of years ago, and had to laugh at the menu which included "Pinecone Juice" as a translation of "Jugo de Piña" (Pineapple juice)!!

There were other choice translations but I don't remember them all.


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Josephine Bacon
Local time: 20:53
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Menu translations Aug 30, 2012

I agree with those who do not think this is machine translation, it may have been the owner himself using an old dictionary! Anyway, even an idiot would know there was something wrong with serving goat dung or mouse of lamb. I am not surprised that the owner could not be bothered to have the menu retranslated, even for free, he might even think that the mistranslations would be a tourist attraction!
I saw "spaghetti polonaise" on a menu in Cyprus.


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Veronica Coquard
France
Local time: 21:53
French to English
Reminds me of lawyer salad Aug 30, 2012

...You know, "Salade d'avocat"!!



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vixen  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 22:53
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Lamp chops Aug 31, 2012

A main course that frequently shows up on Greek menus is "Lamp chops".

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