Culinary Translation – What’s Cooking?

menu-translationMenu translation sounds like the easiest translation possible. After all, how difficult can it be to translate “Roast beef with rice and salad” correctly? If an automated translation tool is used for translating something as simple as this, it may appear as a bad phrase on the menu, which will take appetites away. Getting an automatic translation tool on the Internet for menu translation can lead to some serious confusion. The following provides some reasons for trusting the services of menu translation solely to a professional translation services firm instead of a free online translation tool.

A name of the dish on the menu should not sound repulsive to the customers. It needs to sound appetizing, along with providing information about the contents of the dish. Culinary translators must bear in mind that while translating menus, some things need to change altogether. For instance, octopus is a very popular ingredient on menus in Greece. An appetizer “Chtapodokeftedes” that is prepared from octopus in Greece looks somewhat like meatballs. However in the English translation it certainly cannot be named as “octopus balls”! Therefore, the choice of suitable words must be careful.

In terms of recipe book translations, ingredients can pose another challenge. Because certain items in recipes may not be available in Western Europe, the cook may be forced to find substitute ingredients. For example, a wonderful recipe from the Philippines has an ingredient known as “heart of the banana flower” when translated in English. Obviously, odds of getting a banana flower in Europe are very limited. The solution to this problem is usually to look for an ingredient that can act as a substitute both in terms of consistency and taste.  Identifying appropriate substitute ingredients can be trusted only to a human translator with relevant knowledge of the culinary field.

The best way to guarantee an error-free menu translation is to use human translators instead of the easily accessible software translation tools. For instance, an online tool might be able to provide the translation for “duck” but not in as enticing a way as a human translator can. As already discussed, software translation errors can also result in a menu that is highly unappetizing to the diner at the table.

A badly translated restaurant menu not only discourages customers but also means bad business for the restaurant. After all, the first impressions that customers get regarding the restaurant are through its menu. Thus restaurant owners must not rely on a menu translation that is just “good enough.” For the sake of their own business, they must look for the best menu translation. Getting a professional translation firm like The Marketing Analysts Translation Services ( to translate your restaurant menu is well worth the investment.

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