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Travel & tourism

Travel & Tourism

You may think that anyone can translate tourist material but nothing could be further from the truth! Hotel brochures, restaurant menus and tourist information websites - all pose particular pitfalls that only a professional translator is aware of.

Cultural references

All these texts have one thing in common: They contain cultural references such as unfamiliar dishes, tourist attractions or local expressions which require specific adjustments during translation. Often, there is no equivalent in the target language and the translator has to find a way of expressing the same concept and incorporating it into the translation as naturally as possible. Many cultural references can be very tricky to translate. Take Kaiserschmarren mit Zwetschenröster for example. Some of the poorer translation attempts would not entice me to try this popular Austrian dish!

Personal experience

Given my personal background and unique understanding of three very diverse cultures, I easily recognise specific cultural references in Dutch, German and English. Being an avid traveller myself also comes in handy. Knowing a place or country really well has often helped me to translate different customs and traditions or unusual architectural features. Serving "beschuit met muisjes" is a Dutch tradition when celebrating the arrival of a new-born baby. This could be easily mistranslated if you were not aware of what it meant!

Specific translation workshops

In order to develop my awareness of cultural pitfalls, I have attended several workshops on the translation of tourist material. Most of them dealt with specific problems when translating from English or Dutch into German. A workshop led by Dr Jean-Pierre Mailhac was particularly interesting as it covered the hot topic of how to translate cultural references in great depth.