For the most part I started collected my corpus of dual Spanish (Spain) / English words or phrases from menus I find online of restaurants that are definitely in Spain (so avoid other variations of Spanish in other parts of the world). It’s a tedious process to dig out the menus and create side-by-side tables in MSWord. But the slow and tedious process also allows me to learn (i.e. actual human intelligence vs Google’s AI approach) something that I’d miss with a more automated process.
And as I’ve mentioned my choice of restaurants to research comes from my virtual tour of the Camino de Santiago where I plot my cumulative mileage on a treadmill in my basement to actual waypoints along the trail. Given Google does a nice job of annotating various points of interest, esp. restaurants, I can find those that have menus online.
Fine, but recently I realized I can expand my sources for the corpus a bit more. Just out of curiosity I explored a link to a large grocery chain (BM SUPERMERCADOS) in Spain that happened to have an outlet in Estella. Exploring that website I found the Compra Online link (Google translates to ‘online shopping’). And that part of the website has a large list of products one can purchase online (usually with pictures; and in categories) so a side-by-side translation corpus can be created, but also some brand names can be learned to subtract out of other menus where the brand name doesn’t translate and therefore is confusing what it means.
But then I found something even more interesting, again by accident. This is a real jewel, https://www.gallinablanca.es/recetas/. This is a large collection of recipes (recetas) which means lots of instruction of cooking terms plus lots about ingredients. I’ve only just begun to explore this site but I also found it has a Diccionario (I think you can guess this as a cognate) truly a dictionary in that you click a word and a definition pops up, in Spanish (no English and Google Translate doesn’t work in these popups, so lots of fun to copy-and-paste the definition into a translation site). The website is produced by Gallina Blanca, which appears to be the maker (or brand) of various packaged food products which are also on sale at this site. There is a lot of food information here – too bad they don’t do an English version of the site so I’d get a better translation than Google. It’s a huge site as witnessed by its search results for ‘huevos’, 7,909 results!
And finally (and I’ll do a separate post on this) I found some food terminology that isn’t directly related to menus but can be used to supplement my corpus. Juice&World in Villatuerta is the manufacturer and distributor of various bottled drinks and they have their product list in both Spanish and English so I can obtain their translations (which, btw, doesn’t guarantee they do it any better than Google but hopefully they do). But you get things like this to cut up to put in the side-by-side corpus
|De la mezcla de zumo de lima, naranja y limón, con un toque de hierbabuena y menta, hemos creado esta bebida sin alcohol dando un estilo personal a la tradicional bebida cubana||We have created this non-alcoholic drink from a mixture of lime, orange and lemon juice with a touch of spearmint and mint to give a personal style to the traditional Cuban drink|
Now even though I don’t know Spanish I’ve done enough fiddling to figure out how to associate bits of the Spanish with their connected bit of English, like (easy) lima (lime, obvious cognate), naranja (orange, I happen to remember that) and limón (lemon, obvious cognate). But less obvious is hierbabuena which translates to spearmint even though spanishdict.com merely has its translation as mint because the y menta is the clue to tie to and mint in the translation and thus deduce spearmint as the word before y.
Interestingly it took a little remembering that adjectives follow nouns (often) and thus non-alcoholic drink is bebida sin alcohol.
This muddling through pieces of text with some sort of translation and with lookups, plus at least short-term memory, is actual part of my learning experience. If I had the time to do this all day-long (and I have tons of source material for that, already way behind on my inventory of links just from Estella alone and I really haven’t had the chance to do Pamplona, an even bigger list) I probably would know a lot of Spanish just from all the repetitive work that does help to burn words (plus a little structure of the language) into one’s brain.
Note: Added after original post. I was trying to locate the grocery I mentioned above on Google maps and instead ended up with this one, Dia, also in Estella. This gave me another interesting idea about confusing translations. Their online shopping is in categories so I was looking at pescado y marisco (fish and shellfish (or sometimes just generic term for any seafood)). And on that page there are images but also everything is either fish or some seafood, except tubo de pato which Google amusingly translated as ‘potato tube’. Since I’d just earlier been looking at potato options I wondered what a tube of potato might be (there is more to this story). In the image associated with this item it sure looks like the body of a squid and is labeled tubo de pato on the package. spanishdict.com fairly quickly resolves the silliness of Google’s translation by indicating pato is cuttlefish (the reverse lookup for ‘squid’ yields calamar, an obvious cognate to Italian but I have a hard time seeing any difference).
But based on only a single source is this information (Google translated):
They are selling a cephalopod of lesser gastronomic value than the squid that we appreciate,
The squid or giant squid , also known as luras in Galicia or cuttlefish in South America (although the cuttlefish is actually cuttlefish in our country, and is called choco when its size is like that of the palm of the hand), it constitutes several species , such as the common pota ( Todarodes sagittatus ), the flying squid ( Illex coindetii ), which is small in size, or the Argentine squid ( Illex argentinus ), which is granted greater quality.
Amusingly Google translated this article as “difference between squid and squid” given my query was ‘difference between pato and calamar’. It’s hard to say from a single source this is a correct distinction but it sounds good. Which then raises another issue – mislabeling of ingredients on menus. If one were concerned about this I suppose this is another reason to actually learn to speak and hear Spanish so one can query the server whether your menu item is the lesser cuttlefish or superior squid.
Note2: My other story was another stab at attempting to determine what patata fritas are (mentioned in earlier post). So, this grocery store has a convenient search so in went patata fritas and I got multiple pages of hits: mostly potato chips (including good old Lays) but also frozen potato wedges (kinda like steak fries, probably the closest to the literal translation) and also numerous frozen French fries (some with English on the packages, e.g. ‘frites’, ‘golden long’, and ‘wedges’). So this didn’t help any but it seems clear that if you want fries with your lunch you need to ask the server whether you’ll get chips or fries and I have no idea how to do that with minimal Spanish fluency.