User Input

User Input: Engrish 101

WFT?These new microphones are so complex, you must make sure to fully read the manul [sic] so that you are intelligentized enough to operate. We’ve all seen it: documentation straight off the boat from China.

I just got a new hard drive for my Xbox off eBay that came in a package bearing no resemblance to an official MS product, but inside was a perfectly good hard drive at half price. I’ll admit I was scared to plug the thing in at first. Should I have been? The “genuine” product also comes from eastern Asia, so is this any less valid? The picture featured here came with a new pair of wireless microphones a local non-profit group purchased. They’ve got some good throwing weight, and the fit and finish was good – the hilarity that ensued whilst perusing the included documentation didn’t exactly scream top quality, though. The box assured me, however, that, “It is very happy that you have this professional wireless microphone of good quality which will bring you into a world where you can sing happily and freely to your heart contant [sic] so that you enjoy immediately.”  I guess in China they only sing sadly, under duress, and don’t realize it until later.

There’s lots of examples of Engrish on the net, but what some of the best you’ve experienced yourself? Does poor translation equal poor product?

[“User Input” is the AtomicToasters Question of the Day™ asking you, the teeming millions, to answer our pressing questions.]

  • A few months ago I was working on a project that will take place in Sweden. Much of the documentation had been written in Swedish and translated…literally…into English. Instead of "The Roll Surface shall have a coefficient of friction of 0.6" it said something like, "The Roller Surface number of frictions will be 0.6".

    This is one area where Ikea is genius. Knowing they sell in many different countries, and rather than paying people to translate their assembly instructions into passable versions of the various local languages, they use pictures. Sometimes those pictures actually make sense, too!

  • While not directly technically related, I work with a Mexican subdivision of my company, and the way things my correspondence phrase things is pretty hilarious.

    At the end of a price change list:
    "Thanks a lot for all sour support,


    You are welcome Jorge!

  • Lotte

    You've made me search for my old knockoff mp3's box! Doesn't matter, since I'm at home and procrastinating anyway. So, is the manual a pot of Engrish gold?

    "Welcome to choose our produce, please read this manual carefully." Yes, yes it is.

    The standard Engirsh: "Push 'Mode' to entry"

    The scary-sounding: "Functions and performance may change without prior notice."

    The "What The F?": "New Function Recommends! Some MP3 user may worry about divulging secret. They do not want others to find private information contained, therefore these data have to be removed before lend their own MP3 to others. It makes some trouble.
    However, this problem has totally solved by 'Secret Space' technique!
    You can use provided software to divide the whole USB disk into two parts, and encrypt one of them. You can then move your privacy into the encrypted part; they will be protected by password."

    The screen is 1 1/4 by 1", if you were wondering. Perv.

    • I'm laughing and my coworkers are wondering what's wrong with me. That was funny.

  • P161911

    I still go back to "Monkey Spanner" whenever I think of poor translations. I used to work for a Japanese company and had to attempt to translate things with Babblefish and the like. I got one document that translated a phrase as "Monkey Spanner". ??? sound painful for the monkey! It seemed they were talking about a tool here, let's see spanner=wrench, monkey wrench=adjustable wrench, monkey spanner=adjustable wrench!

  • tonyola

    Some years ago I was in San Juan, Puerto Rico and I was having dinner in a fairly spiffy restaurant. The bi-lingual menu had an entrée called "Cangrejo frito" (fried crab). The English translation on the menu was "Fried Crap".

    • P161911

      A Chinese buffet that I used to go to for lunch usually had steamed crayfish labeled "Steamed Clawfish". Not quite as funny as fried crap.

  • Deartháir

    Knowing that Techie's cat is named "Chairman Meow", the tags conjured up a totally different mental picture for me. I've seen The Chairman try to play the piano, and a) wouldn't pay for that ticket, and b) suspect it wasn't one night only.

  • TechieInHell

    That's OK, that tag has earned me a slander lawsuit from Elton John.

  • chrystlubitshi

    best thing i've seen recently was a fortune from a fortune cookie (the slip of paper was left in my desk by a previous employee — the cookie was long gone) this is now hanging on the wall of my cubicle… it reads as follows….

    "A day of rest; you better shirt all kinds of overwork."

    i love it.

    • Deartháir

      If that's not a mantra to live by, I don't know what is!

      • chrystlubitshi

        trust me, since i started this job… i've shirted all kinds of overwork!

        • zaddikim

          Which is far better than shirking overt warts.