March 14, 2017

Keeping It Simple

We try to keep the foods and languages on our cards as simple as possible. Basic words and phrases are far easier to see, read, translate and understand.  We avoid long lists of food ingredient and technical terms that might lead to misinterpretation and confusion.


SelectWisely continues to expand its language selection to provide the best service to our customers. Our list includes most of the world's common languages. If there is a language that you do not see in our list and you would like to discuss this with us, please see go to our Special Order section.

One of the challenges with translating foods into various languages is that some geographic regions and cultures do not serve certain foods as part of their everyday diet. Translations - even with simple words - can sometimes be challenging. Some languages, like English, combine foods into a single food category such as "shellfish" or "nuts". In other languages this one English word would translate into a combination of several words.

Chinese - Cantonese vs Mandarin / Traditional vs Simple

A note on Chinese translations: There are two Chinese two dialects - Cantonese and Mandarin. Generally Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong and in many Chinese restaurants in the United States. Mandarin is spoken in Taiwan and on Mainland China. In addition, the written language has two forms: traditional and simplified. The simplified form is used on Mainland China and the traditional form in Hong Kong and Taiwan.  The written language form is based on one's travel destination - simplified for Mainland China and traditional for Hong Kong and Taiwan.

List of Foods
The types of foods that people are sensitive to is surprisingly diverse. In addition to the allergy foods that normally come to mind such as nuts and shellfish, many other foods cause people to become ill - spices, certain meats, cooking oils, tubers, vegetables. The universe of foods that cause serious illness is relatively small but the universe of foods that people are sensitive to is very broad.

We also provide gluten-free and lactose intolerant translation cards for people with restricted grain or dairy diets. Gluten-free diets can be very restrictive and include different processed foods, chemicals and synthetic ingredients. The range of manufactured foods with grain ingredients is large.

Vegetarians typically avoid the major food groups of meats, fish, shellfish and poultry. However, individual preferences can extend to different variations of meatless diets. Vegans choose to be more restrictive by eliminating eggs and milk products.

If you don't see a food listed our home page and would like to suggest one, please send us an email.

Tags: Food & Travel Safety · Food Allergies · Gluten Free · Languages · Translations · Travel Safety · Vegetarians