Chat Write Man Woman

The power of proper translation

with 2 comments

Balloon helicopter

Balloon helicopter

We have surely all purchased products that come with manuals where the original language was rendered into English by a semi-literate person armed with a cheap dictionary. Even expensive products, such as cars, sometimes arrive with such manuals, and you wonder why the firms couldn’t spend a few more dollars on a decent translation. Really, compared to R&D, translators come cheap.

But this one takes the cake. A friend here in Germany sent G-girl a Chinese balloon helicopter, the kind where you put three blades in the hub, blow up a balloon, and set it loose, as in the picture. (I love how the shop where I got this picture lists it under annoying toys–quite apt.) She picked it up the other day and wanted to put it together. I was trying to figure out how to rig the balloon valve, so consulted the instructions. They read:

  1. Assemble the propellor
  2. Make the ball entangle the sebific duct
  3. Blow the ball and close the mouth
  4. Connect the propellor with the sealed ball
  5. Now hold the balloon-helicopter horizontally and let it fly

Sebific duct? WTF? I think they meant “stick the fat end of the plastic thingy into the balloon,” but now I have the word sebific stuck in my head and have for days.

As if that weren’t enough, apparently it helps to have Popeye arms when assembling this thing, anchor tattoo included. Check out step four!

Get your Popeye arms ready!

Get your Popeye arms ready!

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Written by Dale

August 31, 2009 at 5:13 am

Posted in Kids

Tagged with , ,

2 Responses

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  1. LOL! Speaking of funny translations, here’s one from a car rental brochure in Tokyo:

    “When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor.”

    Paula

    August 31, 2009 at 6:36 pm

  2. I do not want to be vigorously tootled, ever!

    Dale

    September 2, 2009 at 2:27 am


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