Cooking/gastronomy translation
Thread poster: Cidália Martins
Cidália Martins
English
+ ...
Oct 10, 2005

For those who translate in this field, did you have prior non-translation-related experience or was it simply a topic of interest that you delved into head first?

I'm interested in the topic of cooking, etc., but am wondering if I need to do anything special or study anything in particular to do this. I've had some experience with small jobs translating menus, brochures, restaurant displays, etc.

Would it be reasonable to add this to my specialties, or do I need to learn more "off the job" ?


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:51
German to English
+ ...
Cooking and Gastronomy as a field of expertise... Oct 10, 2005

Cidália Martins wrote:
For those who translate in this field, did you have prior non-translation-related experience or was it simply a topic of interest that you delved into head first?


Hi Cidália,

Although it is not my main field of expertise, I have a certain weakness for gastronomic translations (when I get them). I suppose my interest mainly developed in line with my own love of cooking. I also worked as a cook during college, which intensified my interest somewhat - it remains, however, more of an interest, rather than an actual workload.

Cidália Martins wrote:
I'm interested in the topic of cooking, etc., but am wondering if I need to do anything special or study anything in particular to do this. I've had some experience with small jobs translating menus, brochures, restaurant displays, etc.


It sounds like you're well on your way in developing a field of expertise. I personally don't think that you really need to 'study' anything, though a cooking course at the community college might be some fun for you. It may sound weird, but occasionally I like to read through recipe books in both languages; sometimes I'll even go so far as to compare the same recipes in both languages (I'm almost never bored).

Cidália Martins wrote:
Would it be reasonable to add this to my specialties, or do I need to learn more "off the job" ?


Why not? If you like doing it, and you have a certain amount of experience, I see no reason why you can't add it to your existing specialties. I'd say, "go for it."

Best regards,

Derek

[Edited at 2005-10-10 10:13]


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 13:51
.... Oct 10, 2005

I enjoy watching cooking programmes and things like that. I don't consider myself to be a whiz in the kitchen.

Sometimes there are occasions where some source words are "untranslatable", so it's up to you whether you want to use the source word or come up with an explanatory kind of translation.

To be honest, if I get stuck on a term, I just call my mother

Also, chefs in upmarket restaurants will use flowery language for the most basic of items, so you've got to be aware of that too.

O.


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Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:51
French to English
+ ...
Agree with Orla Oct 10, 2005

I work as a Project Manager for an agency here in Madrid (having left the freelance world behind!!), and we translate a lot of gastronomy-related texts.

The important thing to bear in mind (over and above accuracy of course - you don't want to add beef to a trifle as in the classic Friends episode...that one still makes me laugh) is style. Gastronomy texts are often flowery, full of romantic, poetic language and take a lot of skill to translate - you have to really focus on your style from word one to the end, and we only tend to use the best creative translators for these kind of jobs.

Although this may seem obvious, always bear in mind that these texts are generally for publication and will be read by thousands of people - so the language and style need to be consistent with those of the original. Chefs take great pride in their work and this should be reflected in the translation.

Over and above that, an interest in cooking is always good to have, and that creative side will never go amiss!

Hope this helps!

Paul


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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:51
French to English
Gastronomy Oct 10, 2005

I occasionally get gastronomy translations. I kind of fell into it years ago - a fellow translator, who is a trained chef, needed someone to revise her gastronomy texts in English. I love cooking and baking, so I was naturally very interested in it. I've been doing it for 6 years now.

I don't think there's any special training required, but as someone else mentioned, you have to be familiar with the flowery descriptions used by chefs sometimes. For average restaurants, translations are straightforward, but for fancier ones, it can be a challenge, often because some chefs simply cannot write and the menus are filled with mistakes and erroneous descriptions. It's also a good idea to be familiar with cooking techniques so you have an idea about how each dish is made, which makes translation easier.

I would suggest reading up-to-date cookbooks and recipes in your source and target languages, and even restaurant menus on the Internet. It's a great way to find out what is commonly used in menus.


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Cidália Martins
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all... Oct 11, 2005

for taking the time to reply.

I am no world-class chef, but I do know my way around a stove. I love to cook and experiment with recipes (from cook books and my own creations), so I do know my way around a lot of cooking terms.

This wouldn't be my main specialty, as I am focusing on medical translation, but it is definitely an area of interest.

I like the idea of reading cookbooks in the different languages I work in. I have done that before, and it really teaches you a lot of terms, especially when you're dealing with differences in food terms between Portuguese from Portugal and that of Brazil, and even the difference in a few terms between British and North American English.

I think I will go ahead and add gastronomy to my list of specialties and go read me some menus and cookbooks.


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 13:51
Shameless plug :-) Oct 13, 2005

(off topic?)

I was recently interviewed for an article on airline menu translation for Multilingual Computing & Technology magazine on translating English menus into Irish Gaelic.

It should be published by the end of year, so I am told

Orla


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Cidália Martins
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Shameless plug.... Oct 13, 2005

Orla Ryan wrote:

(off topic?)

I was recently interviewed for an article on airline menu translation for Multilingual Computing & Technology magazine on translating English menus into Irish Gaelic.

It should be published by the end of year, so I am told

Orla



That certainly sounds interesting. Good for you.

Besides, shame = no fame.


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Thesis about this subject Mar 24, 2011

Hello everybody,
I am student in Argentina of the career of English Public Translator and I am preparing my thesis. The subject of my thesis is Gastronomy Translation and my goal is to point the matter of terminology on cooking translations and to explain the background and knowledge that a translator needs in front of a gastronomy translation.

Checking the web looking for some information about this subject, I found this forum.

Could anybody help me with some information about this subject?

The temporary title of my thesis would be "Gastronomy translation, also a chef?"

Thanks in advance for your help!


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JaneD  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 14:51
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Much the same Mar 24, 2011

I spend a lot of my leisure time cooking, reading or watching programmes about cooking, or failing that, eating the products of my studies! So when cookery translations began to come my way I grabbed them with both hands. The only problem is that they tend to make you permanently hungry.

Jane


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Sarah Swift  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:51
German to English
Menus often use flowery language - in lots of languages Mar 24, 2011

I translate things like menus from time to time, as an offshoot of my tourism translations, which are themselves an offshoot of my "culture-vulture" speciality. As Orla so rightly mentioned, decisions have to be made between translating terms or leaving them in the source language (because there is no translation, or perhaps for local colour). Even when I do decide to run with a translation from German into English, I can still find myself on the horns of a trilemma (at least) when deciding whether to use "plain English" or French or Italian words (or vocabulary from another language altogether) in my target text. Plain English is not always "flowery" enough. Translating a menu that contains a lot of dishes from traditional French haute-cuisine can call for the use of French terms if the menu is to have an upmarket feel. On the other hand, if the menu is for the restaurants of a major hotel chain with lots of tired, hungry customers who may have difficulty with French, it may be kinder to use more English. Matters are complicated further by the choices to be made between British and American English, which are more complex in the food area than in most other fields; which variety would you expect to find in a German restaurant? Should the translator use one or the other or try and aim for a hybrid that everybody can understand?

All in all, I would say that a translator is headed towards becoming a gastronomy specialist if s/he has a flair for cooking, an enthusiasm for recipe books, a smattering of an assortment of languages beyond their actual pairs, and a keen sense of style and register. If I wanted to become more involved in the area, I think I would start by becoming a wine buff. Wine is a whole separate area, of course, but it probably affords the best opportunities to practice the tightrope walk between very flowery writing and prose that just sounds plain silly. It can be a fine line...


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