«Translating Restaurants' Menus from English into Arabic: Problems and Strategies By Kefaya Adeeb Hafeth Saleh Supervisor Dr. Odeh Odeh Co-Supervisor ...»
informative, though less prestigious. Moreover, pictures are very helpful to differentiate such terms with semantic relations. These are pictures for the three concepts in question
4.4. The use of a non-frequent lexical item It is taken for granted that there is more than one possible accurate and faithful translation of each term in the TL. However, one translation can be more appropriate and satisfactory than others for different reasons. It can be more relevant and emotive than others. For example, the term" crispy" has two equivalents in Arabic. The first one is " " and the other is " ". Interestingly, the phrase "crispy beef" is rendered as " ", in one menu, in the sample of the study, and " ", in another. In fact, the word " " is not frequently used in relation to food. Most likely, it is used in political and security contexts meaning "unstable" as well as for metals meaning "fragile". On the other hand, " " is attributed to food products and widely used in the field of advertising. It can better convey the message while " " may cause message distortion Another example is to be discussed in regard to the frequent use of terms representing dialect varieties vs. standard Arabic terms. The term "coleslaw" has been rendered as " " and " ". Both translations are faithful and accurate. The only, but important, difference lies in the frequency of use. Obviously, the word " " is more popular in Jordan and Palestine which represent the major area of research. The other term " " that means ",,,, " (Al -Mu'jam Al-Wasit, 1972: 785) is formal. The use of this standard term, though non-frequent, can be attributed to the translators' attempts to show their linguistic abilities. It may also be related to the fact that some translators depend on general or online dictionaries without paying enough attention to the necessary modifications. One translator in the city of Nablus, (Personal communication) ensures this fact. He frankly says that he depends on the online websites to produce his translations. He feels no need for other sources to improve his translation although he admitted some shortcomings of his approach.
To sum up, translating menus is a complex process that implies a number of serious problems and challenges of the translators' knowledge, taste, creativity and sensitivity. The problems range from linguistic to cultural or religious ones. The problems are mainly related to brand names, CSCs and semantically related terms.
These problems can be solved once the translator views translation as a process of decision-making mixed with taste and knowledge and not a mere technical replacement of one word or phrase with another. Translators need to analyze carefully and to render appropriately. Therefore, the strategies and techniques applied in translating menus deserve to be discussed and evaluated in the sense of faithfulness, accuracy and emotiveness. The following chapter examines, in detail, the main strategies of translating food menus based on the sample of the study.
Strategies of Translating Menus and Food Terms
5.1. Introduction This chapter examines the main strategies and techniques adopted by translators in the translation of food menus. The strategies in question are transliteration (borrowing), literal translation, adaptation, omission and addition. Moreover, the researcher examines two contradictory and uncommon strategies which are mostly adopted inappropriately. These two strategies are translation by a more general word (superordinate) and translation by a more specific word (hyponym). The researcher tries to judge the faithfulness and the accuracy of the strategies used in different contexts. Finally, the chapter sheds some light on the multiple translations of the same concept. The researcher studies the varied translations of some concepts and the main reasons behind such varieties.
The aforementioned strategies were adopted 241 times in the 19 menus under investigation. Below is a table showing the frequency and
percentage of each strategy/ technique:
Table (3): Frequency and percentage of translation strategies /techniques
What follows is a discussion and evaluation of the strategies above accompanied with examples extracted from the sample of the study.
5.2. Transliteration (borrowing) Catford (1965: 66) defines transliteration as a process in which the transl(iter)ator represents the sounds of the SL words using the TL writing system. It is to move a word letter by letter from one language to another.
According to Coulmas (1999: 510), "the purpose of transliteration is to enable those not familiar with the writing system of a language to nevertheless read words or even texts of that language." Therefore, this strategy is the most popular method in rendering products' names. It is widely used to solve the problem of non-equivalence in the TC.
In the case of food terms, transliteration is a double-edged sword. It is the ideal way to introduce new concepts to the TC and to avoid misleading translations. On the other hand, it may be mistakenly used by some translators causing message distortion. Moreover, the overuse of transliteration represents an unnecessary image of sophistication for the aim of prestige.
Below are some of the advantages of transliteration (borrowing):
1. Transliteration helps to avoid misleading or inadequate translation. For example, the food term" Club sandwich" is transliterated as " ".
It is the right choice here since the alternative literal translation as " " will be nonsensical and misleading. Another example is that of "black forest" which a kind of cake is. It is always transliterated as " " to avoid literal translation as " " which may not be attractive enough as a kind of cake. Further, it tells nothing about the product which makes it useless. One more example to clarify the point is that of "cocktail". In fact the term is borrowed into Arabic and is always transliterated as " ". Suppose it were translated literally as " ", the translation will sound meaningless and unattractive. Another possible rendering by paraphrasing it as " " may be rejected by some people who may argue that cocktail can include things other than fruits such as milk, ice cream or nut. Here, the borrowed term becomes a part of the TL as the preferable choice. Or it might be too long causing its rejection by people who usually economize in the use of words in such contexts.
2. Transliteration helps to solve problems attributed to non-equivalence of cultural terms. It can fill the cultural differences between the SC and the TC. Translators usually opt to transliterate terms for which no counterparts are available in the TL. Food menus are rich in examples of cultural gaps where transliteration becomes necessary and justifiable. Some of these
examples are in the following table:
Table (4): terms of non-equivalence and their transliteration
The previous examples are among so many examples that illustrate the importance of transliteration to deal with names of dishes, drinks, types of cheese or sauce. Such terms have no counterparts in the TC because they are culturally specific and some of them are made out of proper names. For example, "chicken Stroganoff" is named after Paul Stroganoff, a 19th century Russian diplomat. There is a strong claim that the dish was his chef's invention (www.foodtimeline.org). Here, the search for other procedures of translation is a time-consuming process with no big hope of success.
3. Transliteration may reflect the prestige and glory of the restaurant.
It is taken for granted by a large group of writers that the language of the menu should be flowery, emotive and prestigious. In this context, transliteration helps to create the atmosphere of sophistication and high quality. One example is represented in the use of terms, such as " " for
4. Arabic is a language of several dialects where each of which has a different lexical item for the same concept. In translating food terms from English into Arabic, transliteration is a good solution to overcome the differences among dialects. For instance, the term "mushroom" is sometimes transliterated into " " though it has a direct equivalent in Arabic as " ". The Arabic term " " is a standard term that is found in Al-Mu'jam Al-Wasit. It is also used frequently in Jordan and Palestine.
However, in Egyptian Arabic, another lexical item is usually used to refer to the same concept which is " ". In such a case, transliteration can be a factor for unity among different dialects in the TL.
However, transliteration is not always a successful procedure in providing solutions for translation problems. On the contrary, it is viewed by many writers as a source-oriented procedure that ignores the local color of the TC and limits the creativity of translators. Therefore, it should be the last choice and used only when necessary. For many Arab writers (see Chapter II), it is a matter of lack of confidence in Arabic and a process of borrowing terms for prestige, not necessarily for need. What follows are some ideas that reflect the negative side of transliteration accompanied
with illustrative examples:
1. Transliteration produces target texts which are culturally bound to the SC. The terms are foreign in their sounds and pronunciation even though they are written in Arabic letters. Some words such as " " for "combo", " " for "fillet" and " " for "coleslaw" are used for prestige, i.e, just because the foreign names sound better for some customers. The tendency towards transliterating terms for which the Arabic equivalents are available is linguistically unjustifiable. It can be a sign of the popularity and the dominance of English in the Arab communities. Meanwhile, it can be a policy by the owners to increase the sales and to attract customers. A restaurant owner (Personal communication) pointed out that high-class customers tend to use " " rather than " ". In one way or another, it represents their social status." We have to satisfy customers so we use the language they appreciate", said the owner.
2. Transliteration may cause confusion and ambiguity in the TL. The transliterated word can have two different meanings in Arabic. Most likely, such cases cause message distortion. For example, the word "turkey" is sometimes transliterated into Arabic as " " instead of being translated as " ". Transliteration here is not successful because the word " " in Arabic is confusing as it may be used to refer to nationality or to things coming from Turkey.
3. Transliteration sometimes complicates simple terms creating a distance between the customers and the product. In certain examples, transliteration violates the main norms of the menu such as clarity and simplicity. One of the represented examples is that of "seafood supreme". It is transliterated into " " although it can be easily translated into " " or " ". The suggested translations are both informative and attractive enough to make the overuse of transliteration here unjustifiable.
4. Transliteration limits the creativity of translators and reduces choices. In other words, it does not help evaluate translators or help them prove their linguistic ability and cultural knowledge. Transliterating a name of a dish is, most likely, easier than searching for cultural equivalents or adding descriptive statements about the ingredients or methods of cooking. For instance, transliterating "General Tsao's" into Arabic as " " requires less effort and time than producing a descriptive possible translation as " ( ) ".
5. Transliteration can create problems of cultural sensitivity due to the way the transliterated word is being pronounced. For example, the word "Lasagna" is transliterated into Arabic as" ". The second part of the word " " has religious connotations as it refers to a woman who has a sexual relationship outside marriage which is considered a sin in Islam. The researcher suggests a descriptive alternative translation as " ".
5.3. Literal translation
Literal translation means to translate word for word in order to convey the intended message. Farghal and Shunnaq (1999: 8) state that literal translation means the transference of the denotative meaning from one language to another. Newmark (1988: 69) emphasizes that literal translation ranges from "word to word ", "collocation to collocation", "clause to clause "or "sentence to sentence". For him, literal translation is the correct procedure when the SL word and the TL word refer to the same concept and have similar associations.
Concerning menus and food terms translation, literal translation is a successful choice since the menu usually consists of short terms and phrases without a sentence structure. The following are some examples of
food terms that have gone perfect with literal translation:
Table (5): examples of literal translation.
The previous examples of literal translation are applied successfully since they are as short as the original. At the same time they are faithful and attractive enough and they deliver the intended message correctly. In fact, the terms have clear and direct equivalents in Arabic, so they are easy to be translated literally. In the case of long phrases or sentences such as the descriptive sentences of dishes, one should distinguish literal translation from word-to-word translation taking into consideration the structural differences between English and Arabic. The following example illustrates
Chicken breast covered with Romano cheese and lemon sauce with slices of mushroom and parsley served alone or with rice.
(Sbarro menu, see appendix B).
The changes in the order of nouns in the underlined noun phrases are carried out to fit the structural system of Arabic concerning the genitive construct. "Chicken breast" is translated literally as " " and not word-for-word translation as " ".
However, literal translations are not always satisfactory or successful, especially for the aim of emotiveness. For example, the term " meat lovers" is translated literally as" " in a fast-food menu for pizza. The Arabic translation is not very much appellative as a type of pizza. It could be better adapted as " ".