How to specialise in food translation

Pili Rodríguez Deus/ March 6, 2020/ courses

Reading Time: 5 minutes

How to specialise in culinary translation (part II): Traducción gastronómica with Trágora Formación.

Picasso's monster hands

I know you're dying to know how to specialise in culinary translation. I might write a short separate post on why I chose this course out of three contestants, but today I'll be sharing my experience with the course offered by Trágora.

It's a 3-month course that requires 120-180 hours study, depending on how much you can or want to put in. That works at around two full days per week or two hours per day minimum. The texts are very well selected; in theory they are of increasing difficulty, though I'd find it hard to decide which was the most challenging -probably a scientific article, even if it is one of those I did best in. If you've never translated food texts before, the menus and recipes chosen will certainly test your translation and research skills, your common sense and your desire to be a food translator. What to say about the glossary building, particularly in the meat department, or the land of false friends and false equivalents. And did you want to test your copywriting and your transcreation skills? Did you ever dream of researching the most obscure food terms and translating super creative product reviews and award winning restaurant critiques? You'll do them all. Promise: you won't get bored. Though when you look at those meat charts you may well decide this is not really for you or not for the fainthearted. Translating 'fold in' or 'le fond de la paroi' will become insignificant next to the challenges you will encounter in this course.

Now, before I commence, let me tell you that the tutor I had, Rosa Llopis, deserves a statue in the land of teaching. When it comes to dedication and high standards, I met my match in heaven. And when, in one of her first emails, she said the words, "Te empleas a fondo en cada ejercicio y, sin duda, tienes un porvenir brillante. Trabajemos juntas para que le saques todo el partido al curso y a tu potencial", she built a room in my heart. Together with Clara, a Spanish literature teacher who wrote home to me, ending her letter with, "Cuando se cierra una puerta se abre una ventana." when she heard I might not go to Uni, Rosa propelled herself onto the podium of teachers with genius hands nd a giant heart.

THE ADMIN SIDE OF THINGS

  • Enrolling was easy-peasy.
  • Getting your certificate was quick.
  • The admin or contact person is very friendly and sends monthly emails to check how you are progressing or if you need any help.
  • Feedback was promptly provided, even when the tutor sounded busy.

THE LEARNING MATERIALS

  • The online platform is easy to navigate and it’s easy to download the learning resources.
  • The materials are very well written, using clear language, a professional structure and visuals. A lot of time and thinking has clearly been invested. They are all in PDF format, which makes them easy to navigate and easy to take notes from. Although, initially, I was expecting videos, my disappointment soon dissipated.
  • There are, however, a couple of videos that Trágora has produced where the tutor is interviewed about menu translation and interpreting in cookery courses (links at the end). These were the ultimate factor that convinced me to choose this course, because they gave me not only an insight into Rosa’s work but also into her teaching style. I knew, watching them, that the course would be extremely well organised.
  • Following my interest, Rosa suggested many books on the topic of food history which I'm still to explore.

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT ROSA’S TEACHING

  • Enthusiasm and unparalleled dedication. Lots of discussion backwards and forwards for each translation.
  • Unsurpassed individual support. Able to quickly gage your strengths and weaknesses, Rosa will focus on ironing out the creases.
  • Vast doses of encouragement throughout.
  • No spoon-feeding. Just hints, if needed, to find answers by yourself.
  • Great feedback. Rigorous, and always appropriate, corrections will be enveloped it in a sea of praise. She will take the time to list all the positive aspects of each piece of work together with those that need refining so that you learn but don't loose hope.
  • Friendly but professional. You will not get away with any excuses, including lack of familiarity with a text or job type!
  • Lots of tips and insider input.

SOME THINGS YOU WILL LEARN or PRACTISE

  • To translate a wide range of texts using a wide range of strategies
  • To do a summary translation
  • To translate the same text for two different audiences
  • How to use caps and italics in food texts, which is different to other texts
  • What they are and how to use legal denominations of origin
  • How to analyse texts before translation, for example, a menu or a product advertisement
  • How to convert measures
  • How to compile a useful food glossary, not an equivalence list.
    1. Choosing reliable sources
    2. Casting a critical eye on existing dictionaries
    3. What to include
    4. How to organise it
  • How to analyse pairs or families of terms and their differences.
    1. Terms you were sure you knew will be redefined, starting with taste and flavour.
    2. Do you know the differences between all the frying terms? Are browning and caramelizing the same thing? There is a multitude of sautéing terms in Spanish. Do you know when to use each of them?
    3. Did you know that some terms design different realities in different languages? For example, Spanish does not differentiate between mutton and yearling mutton, and a spring lamb and a cordero recental aren’t exactly the same age.
    4. A Spanish food term might have three or four different translations in English, each for a specific purpose, and the other way around.
  • Copywriting
    1. What is important in a food article.
    2. Where to inspire yourself for writing a piece.
    3. Writing your own piece.

WHAT YOU WILL GAIN

  • Great resources to return to when you need them
  • Invaluable input from a true specialist who interprets in cookery courses and has been translating for 10+ years
  • A better idea of the huge variety of food texts and possible work
  • An understanding of the demands of each text type
  • A varied portfolio of translations to show to potential clients, and the specialist knowledge that comes with them
  • A wealth of examples to prove to your customers that food translation is a specialist field.

WHAT I GAINED (and you could too)

All the above plus:

  • A wealth of experience.
  • A list of amazing feedback to share with my clients, and to pin up and cheer me up on rainy days.

WHAT TRÁGORA COULD IMPROVE

  • Even though all the translations completed seem realistic, it would be good to have a testimonial from a food-business company. I am aware that a competitor offers work connections to their best students and this is something Trágora could consider.

Resources:

Cursos de traducción online.  https://www.tragoraformacion.com/cursos-traduccion-online/

La gestión de encargos intensivos de interpretación.  https://www.tragoraformacion.com/gestion-encargos-intensivos-interpretacion/

La traducción de menús: ¿cómo se come eso?  https://www.tragoraformacion.com/traduccion-menus/

Looking for a translator specialised in the food business?

When hiring someone, would you not rather they'd made their mistakes on a course than translating your own website, cookbook, menu, recipe or advertising materials?

  • Hire a specialised culinary translator and save yourself the pain of embarrassing your food business and your name.
  • Hire a translator who has taken the expense, time and effort to learn how do the best job, and had the humility to get expert feedback on their work. Someone who is aware of the special challenges of food-texts.

As a member of translator forums I see:

  • people translating cookbooks who should have recommended someone else
  • people revising food texts asking questions they should know the answer to
  • peer-agreed translations that are plainly wrong

I cannot emphasize enough to you as a cookbook publisher or food business: hire at your peril. Now, I don't pretend to know it all and, in fact, I recently recommended someone else for a specific cookbook. When you shop here, you can rest assured that this is a responsible business.

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