Restaurant translations should have all the characteristics of a good dish. They should be captivating, high in quality and not too complex. But where do you start, and why is it so important to produce quality menus, brochures and food industry translations?
Restaurant menu translations: when dodging social media is a good thing
In recent years, photographs bearing witness to some of the most sensational translation errors on restaurant menus have become very popular on social media
They are lots of very famous and particularly hilarious images. Who could possibly avoiding chuckling at the translation of pappardelle agli scampi (pappardelle in scampi sauce) as ‘pappardelle you to escape him’. It is enough to make anyone laugh, except the owner of the restaurant, perhaps.
It is not that difficult to guess how the restaurant ended up with such a dreadful translation. We can most likely thank Google Translate for that.
Tips for translating restaurant menus, brochures and websites
Our top tip for dodging translation errors on menus is to ask a professional translator to do it for you. But sometimes, even that may not be enough.
To translate a restaurant menu well, translators need to be familiar with the food and drink sector and the specialised terms used by industry professionals.
Translators must therefore be able to recognise and express the difference between linguine and tagliatelle, between scampi and prawns, and between mixing and incorporating. It seems trivial but it is far from it, and the blunders posted online are testament to that.
It is also worth bearing in mind that food and drink translations are required for much more than menus. The digital world has become increasingly important when it comes to marketing and communicating with customers. As such, translating restaurant websites is of fundamental importance.
You might think photographs of dishes are the only important thing to feature on a website, but that is certainly not the case. Words can communicate with and seduce customers just as well as a set of beautiful photographs, and paying attention to written texts is vital. This principle is particularly valid in the food and drink sector, which often employs quite an evocative language.
When it comes to websites and advertising brochures, translators need much more than a robust knowledge of the gastronomic sector. They also need to have a handle on marketing language and persuasive writing techniques so that translated texts are as effective and engaging as the original texts.
Professionals tasked with food and drink translations are given the complex job of using language that is appropriate to the restaurant context and communicative style. Speaking of communication, respecting the original text’s tone of voice is also crucial. Seven-syllable words are really only suitable for restaurants with three Michelin stars. In most cases, it is probably better to go for a simple, direct and informal communication style.