Translation Blunders

When I went to Paris way back in snowy January, once settled in my hotel room I seized upon the room service menu. Not in search of food, but translation blunders. And I wasn’t disappointed 🙂

First up was “A small caviar envy”, their translation of “une petite envie de caviar”.

Translation Blunder

I can’t say I’ve ever felt particularly envious of caviar myself, or anyone else’s caviar, for that matter. You? They’ve fallen into the false friend trap here, of course. Perhaps “a little craving for caviar?”, or “in the mood for a little caviar?” would be a better translation.

“Rat potato”. I think you’d probably agree that having the word rat anywhere on a menu doesn’t sound massively appetising. At first I thought perhaps it was just me not eating at the right establishments and therefore not having seen rat potato on a menu before, however Wikipedia assures me that “ratte” is a variety of French potato (the caviar of the potato world) – and the English translation should be “ratte”, not “rat”. Hehe.

The translation of this dish also makes me think there’s an actual glass vodka bottle in there. You wouldn’t want to accidentally bite into that, would you…

And then there’s my favourite, the “emotional” chocolate cake.

Translation Blunder

I would be very disappointed if when it arrived it didn’t start weeping chocolate sauce. I admit that this is not easy to translate / transcreate into English, however, and their use of inverted commas suggests they are aware of this. Any suggestions for a good translation of “L’émotion Chocolat”? Challenge of the day!

Also, maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help imagining the “custard cream” as being a humble custard cream biscuit. Which is an amusing image. The emotional chocolate cake and its sidekick custard cream.

I do think that some of the things on here are tricky to translate, however it still never ceases to amaze me when places boldly print things like this and think everything’s fine! Sigh.

Oh well, it shows our services are required in this world of course, and it’s always a source of amusement coming across such gems…

Rebecca