Saturday, May 20, 2006

Dumplings of the world, unite!

An observing and inventive marketer realized that “dumplings” exist in many countries – why not make a dumpling mould for them? I did not know, when I was asked to provide the French for the package, that the job would take me on a virtual world tour in search of dumplings.

The first use mentioned was for making Potstickers – I had never heard the word and my regular on-line dictionaries did not recognize it. A Google search brought me to Wikipedia which gave a description, the Chinese word 锅贴 and an equivalent spelled in Latin characters: Jiaozi. The French version of Wikipedia gave a detailed description of the item, stating that in France, it is sometimes called “Ravioli pékinois”. The package being made for Canada, I decided that the word Jiaozi would be more readily recognized (like the currently popular Italian porcini which is also known as a boletus or cep(e) but that is another story).

The word Piroshki was no trouble for me as my Russian family used to have them quite often when we were children. They were the baked ones, stuffed with meat and rice, as opposed to the Polish ones, which are boiled. The boiled one we called Vareniki. The only thing that I had to do is to confirm the proper spelling in French, which turned out to be Pirojkis (the j being sounded like a g – in George).

Raviolis did not pose a problem in French. The word is spelled exactly the same way. It is only when it is pronounced that the emphasis is on the final “i” whereas in Italian, I believe, the accent falls on the “o”.

Termium Plus, the Canadian Government trilingual database, provided me the equivalent for empanadas, which is the same word. Through, I learned that this is mostly a Chilean and Argentinean food although other Latin American countries have their own versions of this.

I had heard the word Kreplach and knew that it was Jewish or Yiddish. What I did not know was its country of origin and therefore could not tell whether consumers in Montreal would understand it. Fortunately, 86-year –old Saul who frequents the same Fitness Centre as I was able to straighten me out: “My parents who were from Poland, used to cook these quite often” he said. “They looked like raviolis”, I said. “” I don’t know”, said Saul, “I do not eat raviolis.”

Finally, Termium gave pâtés pantins as the French equivalent for pasties, which my Canadian wife confirmed as being a type of ravioli in England (i.e. the Cornish pasty).

Will the package appeal to the Canadian multinational customers? I hope so – for me it sure was a pleasure discovering all these details. I am bilingual but it is my multilingual heritage, which helped me with this assignment.


Federico said...



kate said...

I didn't realize that being a translator also meant being a detective! Good use of your multicultural heritage Sherlock