South Korea tackles baffling menu translations

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

image copyrightAlamy
image captionForeign diners may struggle to work out what some restaurants plan to cook for them

South Korea has set up a government task force aimed at ridding menus of confusing or embarrassing translations of Korean dishes.

Officials from two ministries will team up with language and food experts in order to agree on standardised descriptions for the country's cuisine in English, Chinese and Japanese, the Korea Times reports.

The authorities aren't happy about the baffling - and often amusing - translations spotted on menus over the past few years, many the result of computer translation tools. English-speaking diners who chose the "dynamic stew" at one restaurant may have been disappointed to be greeted with pollock, while another place called a dish "six times", when it was actually steak tartare, the report notes.

It's not only a problem in English. A university study presented to the National Assembly in June found that of 185 Seoul restaurants with Chinese-language menus, a third had inaccurate translations. One reportedly offered Chinese diners "spicy and weird soup" alongside a creation described as "roast grandmother" - in reality a pork dish with aged kimchi. Assembly member Yeom Dong-yeol said at the time that providing accurate foreign names was important to "increase the cultural value of Korean foods".

To help restaurateurs out, the new task force is setting up a website listing the correct translations for each dish and promoting their findings to menu designers.

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