You don’t need to travel far outside your language zone to find well-meaning but often funny and even unfortunate translations. Signs, tourism information, and especially restaurant menus are often a great source of entertainment (as the Asian-oriented fun-with-language-gaffes site Engrish proves over and over again) , and Chile is no exception. Get your red-hot menu blunders here!
I’ve kept a “Bad Translation Fun” file for years, where I’ve collected true oddball translations I’ve come across in Chile, and it’s about time I started sharing. So, let’s begin at a restaurant. Always a great place for Espanglich fodder!
True story: a friend used to work on a cruise ship and confessed an embarrassing moment. He proudly announced to a couple from the US that he was the “eunuch sommelier” on board. Imagine their reaction! They delicately explained what a eunuch was and suggested that maybe he was the ONLY sommelier on board (Spanish for only is “único“).
Here are some of my favorite mangled menu items. I swear I’ve seen all of these with my own eyes!!
Bad Translation Fun at the dinner table: Seafood
(1st: Spanish menu item, 2nd: attempted English translation, 3rd: what they meant to say…)
Choritos al Vapor
Choritos to the Vapor
Machas a la Parmesana
Males a la Parmesana
–>Razor Clams Parmesan
12 Unidades de Colas de Camarón Salteados c/Champiñon
12 units of Tails of Attacked Camarón c/Champiñon
–>12 Sautéed Shrimp w/Mushrooms
Locos con papas mayo
Crazys with potatoes May
–>Chilean abalone with potatoes and mayonnaise
Jardin del Mar: Surtido de Mariscos Finos (locos, ostiones, camarones, machas, choro maltón)
Garden Gives the Sea (crazys, oysters, shrimps, males, choro maltón)
–>Assorted Shellfish (Chilean abalone, scallops, shrimp, razor clams, mussels)
(Note that ostiones are scallops, not oysters!)
Róbalo a la plancha (Róbalo is a fish, but robar is to steal, so…)
Steal it to the iron
–>Grilled Snook (Yikes! Sounds cannibalistic to me!)
Steal it fried
Bad Translation Fun at the dinner table: Dessert
Pie de Limón
Foot of Lemon
Bad Translation Fun at the dinner table: Drinks
Bad Translation Fun: The Wine List
Vino Blanco o Tinto por Copa
Cup of white wine or I Dye
–> Glass of White or Red Wine
Sta. Emiliana Blanco y Tinto Botella 1/2
Sta. White and Stained(Red) Emiliana Bottle 1/2
–>Sta. Emiliana White and Red Wine, 1/2 Bottle
And check this out (!)
Casillero del Diablo Blanco y Tinto Botella 3/4
Pigeonhole of the White and Stained(Red) Devil Bottle 3/4
–>Casillero del Diablo White and Red, Bottle 3/4 liter
Bonus Track: I once saw a sloppily printed brochure with an obvious machine translation offering a tour to the Shell & Bull Winery!! (That would be Concha y Toro to the rest of us!!)
I’m not sure what I want for dinner, as long as it’s served with one of those Stained Red Devil Bottles!!
So, what’s YOUR favorite Bad Translation Fun menu item?
Group Post idea!!
Why not write a post on your own blog about Bad Menu Translations (any language). Link to this post and I’ll link back to you!
Eileen’s Sweater Gives Trout on her menu-inspired post at Bearshapedsphere
Terri at Found in Chile considers a Suck of Crab for lunch
More from Eileen: Moo goo gai serving dish
Leigh at Crooked Compass finds a blush-worthy salad on the menu
Isabel, from Of Heart and Mind found some magical surprises on the menu
Judy gets “gutsy” at It’s Over
Not exactly menus…
But fun food-and-language posts just the same:
Piglet in Portugal’s chicken-clucking grocery adventures
Thorny Rose-now that’s some classy sugar!