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#ThatTranslatorCanCook: how I set myself a crazy recipe translation and cooking challenge

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

I love food and drink, eating out, cooking, baking... I'm what the French call une gourmande, and the English a foodie. So when considering which areas of translation to develop into specialisms, culinary translation seemed like an ideal fit.

You don't decide on a specialism and magically transform into a specialist overnight however. It takes time and effort to read, study, listen to podcasts, attend industry events - all in the name of gaining sufficient background knowledge and working vocabulary in your source and target languages to claim that specialism. While I am doing many of these things, I also chose to take a more creative approach to continuing professional development, and I cooked up the idea of this challenge.

The concept is fairly simple: each week, for a year, I will source and translate a French recipe, then cook or bake it. I figure it's a delicious form of CPD which will allow me to build up my French cooking vocab (while feeding my hungry termbases and translation memories). Since food and culture are so tightly intertwined, I'm sure I'll come across ingredients that need to be substituted, and words or concepts which are 'untranslateable' or which present a challenge and need to be adapted or localised, and I hope to share any interesting insights on this blog. Plus, it will be fun. This does mean 52 recipes in total, which, as many have pointed out, is rather a lot - here's hoping I haven't bitten off more than I can chew!


To come up with a good hashtag, I turned to twitter and translator forums, and was delighted with the enthusiasm and creativity of my fellow translators, foodies, and other creatives. In fact, some even said they wanted to join me, translating between other language combinations - which is just great - the more the merrier I say. I already have one other person who wants to take part, translating from Spanish to English, the wonderful Emily from Saffron Translations. If there are others out there who want to get involved, let me know!

And, after many great suggestions and a twitter poll, the winner is: #ThatTranslatorCanCook - originally suggested by Anne Le Romancer - thank you!

As is often the case, great minds think alike, and I was pointed in the direction of the inspiring #Write52 challenge launched by copywriter Ed Callow, who also aimed to write a blog post each week for a year. Others soon joined in, and the idea has grown enormously. Since there are similarities with my own project, I plan on also using the hashtag #Write52.

Incidentally, a friend pointed out that using title case - i.e. capitalising the first letter of each word - within hashtags, improves accessibility, particularly for those using screen readers, so I'll be trying to use title case wherever possible.

So, keep your eyes peeled for a new post, coming soon, with the results of week one. If you're interested in following along, follow me on one of the social media channels below, or subscribe to the blog to get notified with each new post.

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Cheers to your idea, Hannah! I'm excited to join you in the challenge (perhaps somewhat less prolifically than you, I'll admit, but you do inspire me!) and am glad you were willing to take on a companion in Spanish. :) Here's to 52 recipes in 52 weeks!

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