May 2013 Archives

Translating menus

We have all seen bad translations of menus. Once we have finished laughing at the hilarious images they conjure up in our minds, we then have to decide what we are going to risk eating.

My friend Ian who has been posted to Saudi Arabia sent me an example of one such menu recently. Everything is fine until you reach the "output ratio" option. As I do not know any Arabic I cannot begin to guess what this dish might be.

482383_10151284328587574_1413299966_n.jpgAnd it doesn't end there. In the next photo, there are some familiar names before the bzalaa (which I think, from a quick Google search, might be some kind of meatball) and the balbazlae (which could be a rice dish) and then some rather unappetising options. An attempt at a translation has been made so we have some idea of what might be involved but customers may be unwilling to try these dishes.


Would anyone like to hazard a guess as to what "Dump the thickness of" might be?
Why do we see this sort of thing so often? My hunch is that the proprietor of the restaurant finds a bilingual dictionary and takes the first word s/he finds listed under the entry.  Menus, like all other subject areas, have to be researched thoroughly and translated by a native speaker of the target language. Such effort may initially seem unnecessary but, to ensure  that the carefully prepared food sounds as delicious as it no doubt tastes, the ensuing sales to satisfied customers must surely be worth it!