Thursday, December 6, 2007

I am Part of the Solution

Ever been to a restaurant in another country and giggled over the owner's attempt at English translation?

Me too.

Ever wonder why they don't hire someone to properly translate the menu, considering it's a small, one-time price to pay for something that will influence your customers for years afterwards?

Well, one has.

Ibis has spent the past two weeks training to work the front desk at a swanky hotel in Ixtapa, and yesterday he came home with a printout of every item on their menu. All eight pages of it. We got halfway through when the ridiculousness of the whole thing finally got the best of us.

A few of the highlights:
(Our suggestion is in paratheses)

AtĂșn con costra de ajonjoli
Tuna fish with sesame seed cover
(Sesame Tuna)

Bastones de verduras
Poles vegetables
(Vegetable Skewers)

Carnes frias y quesos
(Sliced Meats and Cheeses)

Costilla de cerdo en salsa de ostiones
Costilla pork scallops in sauce
(Pork Ribs in Oyster Sauce)

Crema de calabeza
Pumpkin blossom of cream
(Cream of Squash)

Crema de huitlacoche
Cream grows
(cream of something)

Ensalada de pepino con yogurth
Cucumber salad with drinks
(Cucumber Salad with Yogurt)

Ensalada cesar con camarones
Cesar's salad with shrimp
(Ceasar Salad with Shrimp)

Estacion light
Diet station
(we think this is a salad bar)

Licuado de fresa
Liquified strawberry
(Strawberry Shake)

Ahhh, I could do this all day but I think you get the point. At least they realized they needed help. :)

Only four more pages to go!


Virginia Lee said...

Well, it is always better to be part of the solution than the problem. I do admit, however, I always find it entertaining to read fliers on the bulletin board at my grocery store which are often written in interesting English.

Melanie's Mom said...

The best translation I ever saw on a Mexican menu was "little donkey" for "burrito."

I don't think I want to tell you this, you might hit me said...

Watch me go all geeky on you. Crema de Calabasa is Squash Blossom Soup. Huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on corn, sometimes called corn mushroom (ew, huh) and Ceasar is spelled Caesar. Now there, aren't you glad we got that all cleared up? I know you were just sitting around waiting for some dork to beta your Blog :D

Melanie Avila said...

LOL, trying to hide behind your no-name. I know who you are! You're the only Spanish speaker who reads my blog!

I di appreciate the help - we hadn't given it to the manager yet so we still have time to make those changes. I should send you all the ones we don't know.

Mom - I'd forgotten that story but that does top the list!

Janna said...

Ooh! What a fun job!

Melanie Avila said...

Yes, if only I were getting paid for it!

wordsmith said...

Okay, now I'm hungry. That is a great job, and it is too bad that you're not getting paid for it. But, perhaps once you're back in the States, you can find a niche market. I can think of many restaurants that could use your skills. :)

DementedM said...

How unusual for the translation to be so bad--I usually find Mexico to be better than the chinese to english translations.


Marilyn said...

I have mixed feelings with going into restaurants that I don't understand the menu of. So I tend to stay with what I know. I'm not very open minded when it comes to choosing something unfamiliar to me. Maybe it's a defense mechanism - If I stay with what's familiar, I can't be surprised.

Laurie (quidscribis) said...

Hah! I feel your pain! English is spoken by perhaps 10% of Sri Lanka, and even then, it's not entirely... Well, it's interesting. :)

My favorite billboard - "Chainees Restaurant". I think they mean Chinese. :)

I also do restaurant reviews for a local travel magazine, and generally, I go to the upscale restaurants, and their English tends to be not as bad as other places, and mostly it's understandable, but some of it is absolutely giggleworthy. :)