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Thread: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

  1. #1
    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    HERE Brian Tiemann posts some screen shots of the manual of a windup toy made in China and apparently the job of translating the manual was given to a summer intern [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    He also says that after getting a Chinese fellow to look over that part of the documentation that it was just as bad!

    Thats my really good laugh for the day, you will all really enjoy it [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    [ QUOTE ]
    car while driving not want to by hand grasp it

    [/ QUOTE ] (that one almost makes sense...


    [ QUOTE ]
    don't let the wet water of car, and not want under the rainy day is open-air usage;

    [/ QUOTE ]

    read the full images for the rest, LMAO!!!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    Yours is thanking of you on quality highest laughing while. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crackup.gif[/img]

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    *Flashaholic* JonSidneyB's Avatar
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    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    Most humerouse laugh now being you thank.

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    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    I know there are some Chinese speaking members of CPF. I'd love to hear their opinion of the Chinese portion of the text and if it's really as badly put together as the English. Anybody out there?

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    Flashaholic* Mark2's Avatar
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    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    On Mag Xenon bulb packages, the german translation says something like "Birne für Mag Blitzlichter", which means "bulb for Mag flashes" (the ones you use on cameras). They translated "flash" (=Blitz) and "light" (=Licht) and put it together. Of course, flashlight in German is Taschenlampe.

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    *Retired* The_LED_Museum's Avatar
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    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    If you go to http://www.engrish.com you'll see some badly translated material. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

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    Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    Craig beat me to the link.

    It seems that the job of translating manuals always goes out to the lowest bidder - with no considerations of having it proofed by a native speaker.

    OEM electronics manuals from Taiwan and China tend to be the worst.

    I've read a few German manuals for pressure/vacuum equipment that hilariously refer to "blow" and "suck" modes for their equipment, with no thought whatsoever to the between-the-lines connotation for English speakers (or the preferred use of "pressure" and "vacuum" as technical jargon). It's even funnier when the factory rep flies over and speaks line more or less verbatim from the manual...

  8. #8
    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    (Dave Barry) Read this first

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* mattheww50's Avatar
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    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    A summer intern probably has a pretty good command of the english language, and english text books at home. The problem is when the people translating haven't had to use spoken or written english for the past 20 years! The Technical writer are often very fluent, but only in their native language! The parts they don't understand, they look up in a dictionary, and they use the first definition that comes up, when the fifth choice might be a much better fit.

    For example if I walked up to you, shook your hand, and say Goodbye, you'd be a bit confused, but in Hebrew Hello, Goodbye and Peace are the same word. (In Arabic they can be, but are Hello is usually expressed as Salam Alakeim,roughly Peace with G-d), the problem is compounded by words that sound the same, but have entirely different meanings, like to,too and two or than and then,sits and sitz, its and it's.

    The really bad translations are machine translations that do a word for word translation, and fail to recognize either the differing grammatical rules in different languagues, or the meaning in the specific context for a given word, so while the words are in the right order for Chinese grammar, and are a direct translation, they may not make much sense in English unless you re-arrange them, and change them to be more appropriate for the context.

    For example if you translate elevator into British Engligh, you get 'lift', in American English, lift is not used in that context, but many will recognize it.

    When I was running the PC help desk in Kuwait for Kuwait Oil, we had a senior manager who was really upset about a problem with his pier and my mostly Indian Nationals on the phones couldn't make any sense out of the problem, in the context of a PC neither Pier or Peer made much sense. I finally realized what he meant was dock. The problem was with the docking station of his laptop (It didn't work because he forgot to plug it into the wall!)...

  10. #10
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    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    [ QUOTE ]
    James S said:
    I know there are some Chinese speaking members of CPF. I'd love to hear their opinion of the Chinese portion of the text and if it's really as badly put together as the English. Anybody out there?

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Well, I'm a Chinese. But I'm in Taiwan. The manu is written by simplified Chinese. That is quite different than we used here. But I still can read them well. From my point of view, the Chinese portion is OK. It is seem that the translator lack some common sense. I guess the manu was translated by young school boy, maybe junior high school. Yes, I admit that I had made this kind of mistake before, and still learnning now. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img]

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    Flashaholic* naromtap's Avatar
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    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    Reminds me of Steinbeck's book, Grapes Of Wrath, which after being written in Japanese translated back to.... The Angry Raisins!

  12. #12
    Flashaholic Sakugenken's Avatar
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    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    [ QUOTE ]
    idleprocess said:
    I've read a few German manuals for pressure/vacuum equipment that hilariously refer to "blow" and "suck" modes for their equipment, with no thought whatsoever to the between-the-lines connotation for English speakers (or the preferred use of "pressure" and "vacuum" as technical jargon). It's even funnier when the factory rep flies over and speaks line more or less verbatim from the manual...

    [/ QUOTE ]
    I think the worst is the translating software. I ran your text through one. First into Japanese, then back to English and this is what I got:
    while it was alike for the English speaker (or desirable use of the "pressure" as a technical technical term, and a "vacuum"), it thought to the line implication, and I was more nearly nothing, in order to "blow", I referred to cheerfully, and read the manual of Germany of a small number the pressure "to absorb" / for vacuum equipment for those modes for equipment That's right, it flies in to some extent more than a line from queerness, when, a factory, and the manual that rep(s), and talks.

  13. #13

    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    Thanking. I indeed was in much trouble of the being unable to reading.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    My favorite example of the wonders of poor translations is a bit older.
    There's an English/Portuguese phrasebook originally published in 1855 by a couple Portuguese scholars who spoke no English. They got around it by using a Portuguese-to-French dictionary and a French-to-English dictionary.
    It's called "English as She is Spoke" and was reprinted recently by McSweeney's. There are some real gems in this book.
    Among the familiar phrases:
    At what o'clock dine him?
    It is a noise which to cleave the head.
    Do not might one's understand to speak.

    It's a classic.

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    Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: best (worst?!) English translation of a manual

    Sakugenken
    I also blame translation software - especially for technical manuals where little value is placed on good writing.

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