MET workshops

Cooking up the right words: hints, tips and tricks for successful food translation

It is hard to imagine two things more intimately tied than language and food. Not just because they both require our mouths and tongues and involve our emotions, but because they are two fundamental, defining aspects of the culture of a people. Translating food therefore poses some particularly demanding challenges that call for highly transcreative, outside-the-box thinking. 

Facilitator: Michael Farrell

Purpose: To look at ideas for solving specific practical problems, thereby gaining insights that can be applied to food translation in general.

Description: Michael will start by briefly discussing the links between language, culture and food with particular reference to Italy, and why they are so important. 

Participants will then take an analytical and critical look at some material from menus and cookbooks. The examples used refer to Italian cuisine, partly because it is so well known internationally and partly because this is the food the facilitator is most familiar with. They will mostly be in English, although some Italian will inevitably creep in. 

Audience: The session is aimed at translators with or without prior experience of food translation, irrespective of the language pair. Participants are actively encouraged to recount their own examples, either to support the tips that emerge during the workshop or to explain why they might not be applicable to their target/source culture and cuisine.

Outcome: Participants should come away with a clear notion of the type of problems food translation poses and some ideas on how to tackle them.

Preparation: Participants might like to bring examples encountered in real-life recipes and menus or from their own work to contribute to the general discussion. 

About the facilitator: Michael Farrell is a freelance translator and transcreator, and a keen amateur cook. Over the years he has acquired a great deal of experience in the food and cultural tourism fields. Besides this, he is an untenured lecturer in computer tools for translators at the International University of Languages and Media (IULM), Milan, Italy. Michael is MET's current webmaster and a qualified member of the Italian Association of Translators and Interpreters (AITI).