What About Dinner At The Post Office?

It is not unusual to find mistranslations on restaurant menus—especially in cosmopolitan dining venues seeking to attract tourists, as well as customers who do not speak the local language.

The picture on the right belongs to a menu from a Spanish-speaking country—probably Spain, due to the large number of rice-based dishes charged for in euros—and the heading reads: “Carta Restaurante.” Whoever translated the menu into English might be a former post office employee, or needed to urgently send a letter, because “Carta” was mistranslated as “Letter.”

This is a picture-perfect example of the funny translation mistakes that can be seen in public places, and occur when translation needs are left in the hands of unqualified people. Those who have not completed accredited training typically produce literal translations of the original document.

Restaurant menus in Spanish-speaking countries are often called “carta.” In fact, it is not strange to ask the waiter, “¿Puede traerme la carta por favor?,” when requesting a second dish or dessert. In the English-speaking world, though, “letter” and “menu” are two different words used in different contexts. The former can refer to any of the 26 letters of the alphabet, or to a written message sent via the postal service; while the latter is the list of dishes that people can choose from in a restaurant, or the list of options offered by a service.

So, it should now make sense why any of our highly qualified Spanish-English translators would have translated “Carta Restaurante” into “Restaurant Menu.” Can you think of another version?

At Day Translations, we want to emphasize the importance of professional, human translations, no matter how simple or brief the original text is. If you like our mistranslations and would like to collaborate with us, please do!

Image credit: An image of a restaurant menu that went viral in Turkey.

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