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«Translating Restaurants' Menus from English into Arabic: Problems and Strategies By Kefaya Adeeb Hafeth Saleh Supervisor Dr. Odeh Odeh Co-Supervisor ...»

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Moreover, the difference in the linguistic system between English and Arabic raises problems in translation. Addition can be one suitable procedure to overcome such problems. Table (10) presents examples in which words are added to make the Arabic phrases and sentences structurally sound good. Let's suppose that "coffee cream" is translated literally as " ", the translation will sound weak since coffee does not have cream! With the phrase " " meaning "with the flavor of" being added, the translation is more logical and acceptable. It is the same with "lemon chicken" whose literal translation as " " will sound meaningless in Arabic. It seems as if lemon is a type of chicken! To avoid such misleading translations, the translator opts to add the phrase " " meaning "with the sauce of". The examples above show the translators' awareness and good knowledge of the TL structure.

Further, the names of dishes may include proper names of public figures or chefs after whom the dishes are named. For example, "Kung Pao calamari" refers to calamari cooked in a particular style. But a literal translation as " " could mistakenly mean that Kung Pao is a kind of calamari. The addition of the phrase " " (following the style of) becomes necessary to remove confusion.

However, addition, in some cases, may result in an inaccurate and unfaithful translation. It is misleading in the sense that it includes meanings or elements which are not there in the SL text. It becomes a type of overtranslation which violates the theme of economy in translation. Next are three examples of overtranslation in which added elements (underlined)

are either misleading or unfaithful or both:

Table (11): examples of unfaithful addition

–  –  –

In the first example, the word " " meaning "sesame" is added as an extra ingredient of the pizza although this element does not exist in the original. This fact makes translation unfaithful and sounds as if it were intended to deceive customers. Again, it is the same impression in the second examples in which the word " " meaning "vegetables" is included as a part of the dish while in the original ST nothing refers to vegetables. From the researcher's point of view, this addition is unfaithful because it results in versions far from the originals.. In the above examples, the conjunction " " meaning "and" is added for rhetorical style in Arabic.

The phrase " "meaning "with mustard salad" which is added in the third example can be misleading in the way it is matched to the name of the dish which may indicate that mustard salad is part of the dish itself. In fact, it refers to the method of serving. Therefore, the

translator suggests the following alternative translation:

.( )

It can be translated back as:

Grilled chicken breast served with mustard salad.

Let's take a final example of inappropriate addition. The addition here is a linguistic one. It is when "Caesar salad" is rendered as " ".

The translator here adds the definite article " " meaning "the" to the proper name Caesar which is a clear linguistic error since it is unusual to use articles with proper names in English. The error sounds unintentional and can be attributed to the translator's lack of attention or lack of knowledge in the field of food translation and linguistics. Obviously, the translator does not deal with "Caesar" as a proper name. Unfortunately, the insertion of a linguistic element that does not exist in the SL item is a wrong choice in this particular example.

5.6. Omission Obeidat (2005: 96) defines omission as "leaving words, clauses, phrases or even sentences which are present in the original version." The reasons behind omission vary. Anyway, omission can be intentional and desirable when the SL item has no equivalent in the TL or when the word is useless for the overall meaning of the text. On the other hand, it may be unintentional and result from the translator's inability to comprehend the SL terms or to the translator's careless reading of the SL sentence or phrase.

Many interesting examples in the sample of the study are here selected:

–  –  –


The SL phrase includes the word "golden" which has a promotional function. It expresses a high level of emotiveness to customers. Here, omission leads to message distortion because the rich connotations of the word "golden" have gone with the deletion. It can be ascribed to the translator's careless reading of the phrase.

The following translation is suggested by the researcher as an alternative


( )

2. Sbarro Dough stuffed with Mozzarella and Romano cheese fully covered with different fillings (chicken, supreme and vegetables), and baked in our oven.

,.(,, ) There are two examples of omission in the previous text. The first example affects the accuracy and faithfulness of the translation. The term "Romano", a kind of cheese, is deleted from the sentence. The deletion of one ingredient of the dish in question ignores the customers' right to know what they are ordering. It is possible to find customers who may not like this particular type of cheese. In fact, there is no logical reason behind such an omission. Most likely, it is attributed to the translator's careless reading of the sentence.

The second example in the same text is the deletion of the last paraphrase of the sentence "and baked in our oven". The deleted phrase has a significant function to indicate the fresh nature of the pizza which is baked in the same restaurant where it is served. It shows the manufacturer's desire to let customers know that the product is fresh. However, the translator opts to omit the phrase and, therefore, causes message distortion.

The omission here can be ascribed to the translator's assumption that such a phrase is not a part of the description of the dish which makes it unnecessary ignoring the emotive theme of the phrase.

The researcher suggests the following alternative translation of the text

without omission:

(,, )

–  –  –


Here, the translator omitted the term "delicious" meaning "( ) ". This adjective has an emotive function that tends to persuade the customers to choose the product promising them a tasty salad. The omission is either unintentional or it may be attributed to the translator's desire to leave it for the customer to judge the taste of the salad. Still, the

translator can stay faithful to the ST by giving the following translations:

It is the same issue in the fourth example:

–  –  –

Here, the example, though a short phrase, includes three instances of omission. In the first one, the word "ice" meaning " " is omitted which causes message distortion since it is necessary to include the word in order to distinguish ice tea from hot tea. The same can be said of the second word that has an emotive function. The word "fresh" meaning " " is expected to attract customers who usually prefer fresh food items. The omission of the word is unjustifiable. The last omitted word is "juice meaning " ".

It identifies the form in which lemon is added. The omission of the word juice leads to confusion between lemon as juice or slices. The researcher

suggests the following alternative translation:

–  –  –


This is a clear example of message distortion. The TL version is not as informative or faithful as necessary. The word " " is a general word that includes different types such as" Caesar salad", "Coleslaw", and so on. The lack of specific information about the salad causes customers who read the message to ask "A salad of what?" Most likely, this unsuccessful omission is unintentional. The omitted word "mixed" can be easily rendered as " " achieving the informative function. The lack of information can be solved through the following suggested translation which is expected to be

more accurate and faithful:


Another example that illustrates the idea is the following:

–  –  –


Here, the term "fried" meaning "( ) " is omitted leaving confusion on the part of the customers whether the rice is fried, boiled or something else. Knowing the method of cooking is important for customers who prefer one method to another. Therefore, omission, here, is unjustifiable since the word has a direct, clear and short equivalent that the

phrase can easily be rendered as:

( ) However, omission is sometimes justifiable and acceptable because it does not affect the message to be conveyed. On the contrary, it removes

redundancy, such as in the next two examples:

–  –  –


This example raises the problem of inserting words that are useless for the intended meaning. For instance, what is the difference between "deep fried" and "fried"? Most likely, they are the same. The adjective "deep" meaning " " adds nothing significant or special for the overall meaning of the phrase. Therefore, the deletion of this word here is intentional and is attributed to the translator's assumption that the meaning can be easily comprehended without it. The researcher tends to agree with the translator's choice since it achieves the theme of economy in translation.

–  –  –


The SL phrase is a name of a Chinese dish. It consists of two parts.

One is the transliteration of the Chinese name into English while the other is translation of the name by paraphrase. The paraphrase gives a clear idea about the dish components. In translation from English into Arabic, the transliterated name " kwei teo" is completely omitted. This omission can be desirable since the name has no counterpart in the TL. Frankly, no possible translation of the Chinese name is available except through paraphrase or description which has already been achieved by the English adaptation of the name. Therefore, the researcher again supports the translator's choice. There is no need to include a foreign name which is difficult to be pronounced, especially that the meaning is complete without it.

5.7. Translation by a more general word (superordinate)

Baker (1992: 26) suggests using a general word (superordinate) to render terms that have no counterparts in Arabic. For example, the term " burger" refers to a CSC that has no equivalent in Arabic, so it is translated by a general word " " meaning "meat". However, the researcher noticed that the strategy has been mistakenly applied in translating food items in

restaurant menus. The following table includes some examples:

Table (12): example of translation by general terms.

–  –  –

Obviously, the examples above represent the inappropriate application of the strategy because the ST terms have direct, clear and acceptable counterparts in Arabic. As a result, the translations can be misleading, hence wrong, and they may be attributed to the translator's lack of attention. For example, the word "garlic" which is rendered as " " meaning "spicy" has a direct equivalent in Arabic as " ", which is different from " ". The same can be said of "chicken" which is rendered as " " meaning "poultry" although it is just one kind of poultry that includes other kinds, such as turkey. The tendency towards a general word, here, is unjustifiable because the Arabic counterpart as " " is widely acceptable and clear. The term "beef" can be better translated as " " meaning "meat of veal" instead of " " meaning "meat", which is not specific enough.In short, when the direct and acceptable counterpart is there in the TL, there is no need for a more general word (superordinate) unless the TL equivalent is a taboo which is not the case in the above mentioned examples.

5.8. Translation by a more specific word (hyponym)

–  –  –

The first example in the menu is significant. The translation of the word "fish" into " " instead of the direct equivalent " " is a wrong choice because it violates the informative function of the text. It may be ascribed to the translator's assumption that everyone knows that " " is a kind of fish and that s/he wants to specify the kind of fish used in the dish.

However, it is not a wise decision to depend on an assumption that may not be true. Therefore, the researcher suggests an alternative translation as " " in order to be faithful and informative.

The other examples are not less important. They are misleading and unfaithful. Even linguistically they represent a shift in number from plural to singular. For example, the plural words "herbs" and "drinks" are translated into singular words " " meaning "parsley" and " " meaning "cola", respectively. This proves that the Arabic versions represent parts of all. The unsuccessful choice of specific words for terms that have direct equivalents seems to be unintentional and likely to be attributed to lack of attention.

The problem of message distortion is clear in the fourth example in which "seafood" is translated into " " meaning "fish" instead of " ". In fact, such a translation has a negative effect on the target customers who may prefer other types of seafood to fish. It mistakenly indicates fewer varieties and choices than those suggested in the original SL term. As a result, it may decrease the orders and the sales of the food operation, which causes it to be a failure translation. The same is also true for "pastry" where the Arabic translation as " " ignores the fact that "pastry" includes many other types. Therefore, it can be better translated as " " To sum up, the strategies adopted in translating restaurant menus and food items include the seven strategies discussed above. The strategies are sometimes adopted successfully and result in satisfactory translations.

Unfortunately, at other times, they may be mistakenly applied causing message distortion, and failure translations, for recipients. In all conditions, translation is a decision-making process that is subject for success or failure.

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