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If the sign of your business uses the wrong words or has mistranslations, clients will not step in.
Today, I was looking at old photos and I found this one of a trip to Toledo in 2012.
One of the common features of all translators is that, when we see a typo or mistranslation in client-oriented text, we need to take a photo. It’s an impulse, we can’t help it!
Some errors are understandable, they are due to not reviewing the text when doing things hastily. Others are directly due to the reckless decision of using an automatic translator (which is not a translator, but more of a dictionary, regardless of its name. You can find more information on that in the entry on automatic translators and their consequences, in Spanish).
When we see those mistakes, we have no mercy.
I don’t know who was responsible for the example in the photo, but, nevertheless… Bravo!
It is very difficult to make a mistake in a two-word expression, but this subject got everything possible wrong, even the spelling. Ignoring the fact that “kitchen” is missing the “k” (alas, it is not their fault that the tile with that letter fell off!), there is no grammatical accuracy, semantic correctness, nor context awareness. Nothing!
They have failed miserably. On only two simple words.
The difference between “kitchen” and “cuisine”
First of all, the correct order would have been adjective + noun, that is, they should have at least written “typical kitchen”, but that would still be wrong.
The definition of “cocina” (in Spanish) that “kitchen” was trying to refer to, has nothing to do with the “cocina” that the original Spanish was referring to. In Spanish, “cocina típica” refers to gastronomy, while “kitchen” is the location where food is prepared.
Nothing in common.
A translator would have immediately realized that, after finding the literal meaning, there is still another step in the process: context adaptation. This is because, unlike English, in Spanish we don’t use different words to make this distinction of “cocina”, we use the same word for both the gastronomy as well as the location for cooking.
Literal meaning is not everything. Among all the definitions of the dictionary, we must choose the one that fits the context and that, ladies and gentlemen, is achieved by a reasoning process that only a human can do.
Therefore, a professional translator would have not just thought “cocina=kitchen”, but they would have gone further and would have realized that by using “cocina típica” in Spanish we are not referring to the decoration or structure of the kitchens in the region.
Using common sense
It is also about common sense (the less common of the senses) and thinking: that definition makes no sense because, why would that mean anything for the customers of the restaurant? What does the “kitchen” matter to the customer? It would be more logical to think that we are referring to the typical cuisine of the area.
All these mistakes would have been avoided with a professional. They know the cultural and linguistic traps of the translation process and they can avoid mistranslating words. Bear in mind that we aren’t even talking about texts that are terminologically complex or that have a difficult subject matter, this is a simple two-word sign for a restaurant.
Let’s also mention that restaurants are the businesses that will skip the professional translation services most often. However, they are probably the ones who need it the most, since translating dishes, recipes and cuisine is highly complex due to the great influence of culture (on names, concepts, etc.).
And they say that the dictionary is enough. What do you think?