They say it’s a good idea to start your specialisation with a topic you know very well. So what could I possibly know better than the thing that keeps us alive, a thing we deal with every day, several times a day? I am talking about food.
As the stereotype recommends, I am Italian and I love my food. But as good as I may be at cooking, baking, eating, reading about it, watching food programmes on TV… translating about food is another kettle of fish. It seems impossible that something you come across with on a daily basis could be so tricky to transpose from a language to another.
The thing is, food is something very practical, mundane, and is therefore inextricably linked with the culture. And culture is something you can explain, but not exactly translate, as it has so many facets. You might be able to translate a sentence as you have all the words, but sometimes its cultural implications are completely different; some others, you don’t have the word to translate it as there is no such habit, or food product available in the other language (and culture). If translating is an exercise in compromise, translating about food is even more so.
We all know that us language people have the habit to ask ourselves “how on earth would you translate that??”, and this is exactly what I do when I flick through the pages of a Canadian vegan cookbook or while I watch the Great British Bake Off. In this series of posts I would like to share with you all of my considerations on food & language, along with the challenges I encounter when translating these materials, and some fun stuff too. Afterall, for tricky it might be, to me food and language make a pretty good pair.
Stay tuned for the first post of the series next Monday and in the meantime, spread the word and the love!