We have all seen menus in French restaurants that have been translated poorly into English, where perfectly delicious dishes suddenly become unappealing, completely uninteresting, or exotically rude sounding in the English version offered up for tourists.
A quick search for examples found ‘savage rabbit’, ‘varied crudenesses’, ‘raped carrot’, ‘prickly tomato sauce’, and ‘jumped lamb’. Tempting, I’ll take the lot.
This issue was brought to mind this morning because I noticed that the t-shirt my daughter is wearing today reads:
‘The life is too short…to be a bad mood’
Note, I’m not laughing – there are pages on this site where an automatic translation has been posted while waiting for older daughter to find time to do a correct translation (her summer job). Hence I do appreciate the shortcomings of an automated or dictionary translation.
Since we also have to renegotiate the pay rate each school holiday before translating can begin, it’s a slow process. Eight years in France hasn’t been wasted on her, and she knows all about grèves (strikes) and manifestations (demonstrations) although she hasn’t started setting fire to our car in protest quite yet.
Of course, odd sounding translations on menus and t-shirts don’t really matter in the scheme of things, apart from the possibility of something unappealing turning up for your dinner, and can provide as much entertainment as inconvenience, but just in case you are struggling with a phrase or about to order 50 menus for your restaurant here’s my offer.
Completely free and with no obligation at all, if anyone non-native English speaking wants to check that a short phrase or two is correct, post it below and I’ll check it for you. If you post the complete works of Dostoevsky you might be in for a long wait, but if any little phrases trouble you please go right ahead.
Of course I do appreciate that the number of non-English speaking readers of this blog might be rather small, but don’t say I didn’t offer. If you happen to be sat in a Chinese T-shirt factory about to print off another batch of 1000 T-shirts with English slogans on, check here first!
Although if the owner of the Paris hotel that posted the now famous sign saying ‘Please leave your values at the front desk’ had asked for help perhaps he would never have become quite so famous…and the equally renowned clothes shop producing ‘dresses ideal for street-walking’ might just have purposely mis-translated for the publicity.