Adventures in translation 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — So, do you know what Rocky Mountain oysters are? If not, Google it, and come back when you get the answer. We’ll wait. {Jeopardy music plays in background ….} OK, so now you know they are bull testicles, what the big guy loses on his way to becoming a steer. In the Mountain West, they are considered a delicacy, though I will confess I have never eaten them despite spending two years in Wyoming. And I don’t really care for oysters, either, which is almost sacrilegious considering where I was born. Today I helped a friend, Ailsa, translate a Chinese menu into English for one of her friends, who wants to open a restaurant featuring local cuisine. We managed OK, until we came across a special dish, 汉寿老水鱼炖牛鞭 (HanShou laoshui shuiyu niubian), her friend had translated as “bullwhip with turtle stew.” Neither Ailsa nor I knew what to make of “bullwhip.” I guessed it might be the tail, as in oxtail soup, but I was a little off the mark. I had the right idea, but the wrong location. Our electronic dictionaries were of no help. We resorted to the Internet (we baidu’d it, meaning Ailsa used ...
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