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  • Gabriela Kouahla - Beyond Words Translator

5 similarities between translation and... cooking!

My mom has been a chef for... well, for all my life; I remember the times I studied in the dining room of her restaurant. Then, while I was in high school, I even had the opportunity to add my touch to the French translation of a menu. No!!! I'll stop you right there, cooking is not one of my "specialities"! Yes, I'm a gourmet, but not to the point of combining translation and cooking! But, these days due to the confinement of the Covid-19, I have to admit that I cooked more than usual, and at the beginning, I complained to my mother: "How am I going to do it, with these new "colleagues" who are always hungry and when my projects call me in front of the computer?"

Her answer: "If you have the right (kitchen) utensils you can work faster and also better! " Her reply made me think: can there be similarities between these two worlds?

One involves an activity in the kitchen, sometimes physical and sweaty, while the other is often practised at a desk in front of a computer. Would we make an analogy between the jumps and movements of the translator's fingers on his keyboard and the movements of a cook who cuts vegetables, gives a brush to a chicken or apple pie ready to be baked? (I hope I didn't give you an appetite!)

Not at all! Translation and cooking have more in common than you might think. Here is the art of translation in a new light... more gourmet! Cooking and translation require just as much expertise. Just as knowing how to cook an egg does not make you a good cook, knowing how to speak a language (or several) does not make you a good translator. While chefs rehearse and practice for hours to achieve perfect recipes, it is with years of practice that translators perfect their translations. Cooking involves a whole range of techniques that have their own specificities, and different from one country to another, even from one region to another. The same recipe will not be cooked the same way by two chefs. In the same way, translation covers a multitude of fields and takes different forms, from economics to design, literature, journalism or science. Each field implies a particular form of expression, a certain terminology, a style... which differs from one language to another! Cooking allows us to express emotions, feelings or identity, especially by revisiting a dish. It is a way of telling a story. Well, translation, too, is a way to convey ideas and knowledge to others in different languages. Cooking has no limits, no boundaries. Everybody likes to eat (especially me!!). When we are around a table, we don't care about anything, the idea is to enjoy a good meal. Besides, a lot of decisions in this world are made during a good meal. In the same way, translation has no borders and unifies people through mutual understanding. Behind the artistic expression that cooking can have, there is a high level of technicality based on the way of cooking, the products cooked and even the type of dish used. What the public perceives is only the final presentation! The dish on the table. The translation also follows rules, this time grammatical, and a specific syntax. The translator's job is to understand and master these rules (in the source language as well as in the target language) and then to restore the meaning of the text so that the reader understands it easily, in a futile way, and without even realizing the underlying structure. How about you? Do you enjoy cooking? Tell me all about it in comments.

And for inspiration, what is the last recipe you cooked? ---- Yesterday afternoon I had a live session with my mom on Messenger:

we backed a cake:

- 4 eggs - 4 tablespoons of flour - 2 tablespoons of oil - 6 tablespoons of sugar - 5g baking powder - 2 spoons of coffee - dried grapes - cocoa 25 minutes at 180

Source photo: https://www.amourdecuisine.fr/article-cake-au-cafe-facile-et-moelleux.html

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