Who the hell writes these owner's manuals?

My husband and I have been buying some inexpensive appliances (less expensive would be more accurate) for a second home. I always read the manuals of everything I buy since I am not precisely a genius when trying to understand how things more sophisticated than a spoon work, after all I would not like to be the one who damages something five minutes after buying it just because I failed to turn some knob clockwise instead of counterclockwise. You get the idea.

Now, since we are going for the “less expensive” we have bought a lot of stuff that coincidentally (or not?) was made in China. Apparently nobody in China, or Canada (where my dishwasher was made) is able to speak English with some coherence. “Ah”, you might say “aren’t you scared that falling glass from your glass house could hurt you?”, because neither I, you know, am a native speaker. “But hell” I say to you, “I am not been paid to write owner’s manuals that could be potentially dangerous as I direct people to ‘only use this hairdryer while taking a bath’ or some other nonsense”. Why can’t they find fluent speakers? Is NOT speaking English a pre-requisite for getting a job writing owner’s manuals?.

Some jewels from several manuals, perhaps you could please translate this into English for me:

“If your refrigerator is with lock, to avoid children shut into the refrigerator”. :eek:

“Put no food in contract with the evaporating pipes”

“You can crystal is ice cubes by twisting the tray”.

“To erased one store number at a time”

“Press the FLASH button to terminate a call institute another or to getting another call from “call waiting”.

“Hard water conditions will adversely effect washability performance or your dishwasher”
And don’t get me fucking started on their Spanish version, which I completely avoid lest I use the fridge as a contraceptive device following their advice. I am not getting smarter by reading this.

And by the way, I admit this is a lame rant, but it bugs me that a company that charges you several hundred dollars for an appliance would not pay two more bucks to get somebody who can actually speak the language as opposed to having the night watchman run the thing trough Altavista.

My guess is that becase they have to translate it into so many languages they can’t really afford a good translation. I base this off the instructions for my computer moniter which is both poorly written similar to the quotes you made and also translated into seemingly every language man has ever spoken since the dawn of time :eek:

For your pleasure:


My sister did it!

Actually she would do the translation and return it to the company who would then correct her translation. No, we don’t know why.


Your husband?

Did I miss a marriage announcement???


“If your refrigerator is with lock, to avoid children shut into the refrigerator”.

We sell all sorts of refrigerators. Some of their doors lock, some don’t; fuck if we know which one you bought. If it locks, only let children inside if you keep the door open. If it doesn’t lock, you can shut them in freely. Pets and adults can be stored in locking or unlocking models as you choose.

“Put no food in contract with the evaporating pipes”

If you look in the working guts of this thing, you’ll see all sorts of pipes and tubing and whirring motorized bits. The food doesn’t go in those parts. You can put children there if you can get them to fit, however.

“You can crystal is ice cubes by twisting the tray”.

If you twist the ice cube tray about, the cubes will get all spiderwebbed with cracks. This looks pretty cool if you’re high at the time, and can entertain small children before you shut them into the refrigerators with non-locking doors. (The sound may entertain them even after they’re shut in, but they won’t be able to see.)

“To erased one store number at a time”

The following (or preceeding) gibberish probably tells you how erase a single number at a time. Alternately, simply give the device to a child who isn’t afraid to push buttons until they figure out how to do it for you. This should also be done before or after shutting the child into the non-locking refrigerator.

“Press the FLASH button to terminate a call institute another or to getting another call from “call waiting”.

There’s this button on your phone labeled “FLASH”. It does all kinds of shit.

“Hard water conditions will adversely effect washability performance or your dishwasher”

You might have hard water conditions for all we know. If you do, this dishwasher’s performance will be worth approximately fuck-all. It probably also voids your warranty.

No charge for the translations. Good luck with your appliances!

Q. Who the hell writes these owner’s manuals?
A. Someone who isn’t paid any more for getting it right.

This sort of behaviour isn’t limited to Chinese companies.

I worked for a localization company in Ireland. One day I got a call from my former boss in the US who asked me as a favour to get a cow-orker to look over a piece of German text they’d put on their website.

A German colleague got back to me totally and utterly bemused: “someone has just looked up the entire paragraph, word by word, in a dictionary, and written down the first definition they found”. It was so incomprehensible that I had to ask for the original English paragraph for her to translate it.

This guy, by the way, is a Harvard MBA.

May 30, 2003. It came as a surprise to all parties involved :slight_smile:


You got it all wrong methinks. See this? “If your refrigerator is with lock, to avoid children shut into the refrigerator”. What they really meant was “If your refrigerator is with lock, to avoid children shut **yourself ** into the refrigerator”. Which means that my refrigerator is also a handy contraceptive device, provided I remain inside when my husband demands sex :smiley:

What happened? You tripped, and oh, ooops! Fell right in front of an altar with a priest waiting? :slight_smile:

Seriously - congratulations! That’s wonderful news!

No, no. It’s simple. To avoid children, shut them in the refrigerator. This obviously only works if the refrigerator has a lock, as otherwise they can just push the door open. I’m surprised I have to explain these things.[sup]©[/sup]

The worst part about this problem is now that the United States economy is in the toilet, many aspects of production is being farmed out to foreign countries like India and China, Korea, Et. Al. So you will now see more and more US products with manuals just as bad as the less expensive Asian products.

A friend of the family is a Technical writer for a MAJOR computer company. They have her nose jammed into the grindstone with impossible deadlines, all the while threatening to farm her job out to India. In fact, they have small contracts with Indian tech writers already. She says the manuals are so bad that once they are submitted, she has to go through the thing cover to cover and re-write it.


The problem of children accidentally locked inside refrigeration equipment is actually a genuine one (although the OP’s Engrish instruction manual does little to aleviate the problem) - some chest-style deep freezers are equipped with a lock that ‘clicks’ shut when the lid is closed - instances of children playing with a defunct freezer (often used as a rat-proof storage box on farms, apparently), accidentally locking themselves inside and suffocating, are not unheard of.

Please stop ruining a great comedy thread by introducing common sense :smiley:

I am a tech writer for US software company you’ve never heard of. A pervasive view among the management of software, hardware, and appliance manufacturers is that manuals and other documentation is a pure cost. IOW, this is not part of the product, and the cost of creating accompanying documentation should not be treated as an investment in the product. Instead it is a drain on the company, and should be minimized to the least expenditure possible.

You can easily see what happens when this attitude is applied to “localization”. Properly done, manuals are not simply translated into another language, but are almost re-written by a professional who understands the ways that language is used by the target market. For example, if I was selling the same product in Quebec, France, and Cameroon, I would not use the same French manual for all of them.

What the companies such as the ones you are buying products from do, however, is take a poorly-written manual and send it through an automatic translation software or service. Usually these services are better than the translations you and I can get from Altavista, but sometimes not. Sometimes there is a reality check after the translation, sometimes not.

In defense of this point of view, consumer behavior supports these managers. You are complaining about those manuals here, but are you going to take the appliances back to the store and demand a refund? Probably not.

And so the company is confirmed in its view that documentation is not a major consumer demandable. And therefore the cost of producing it should be kept as low as possible.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Pit rant… :slight_smile:

Clearly, not Monk’s brother.

Drastic that was classic, nay Clastic. :cool:

Almost as good as The Master (Henry Raddick)


Well, that’s almost exactly what happened, just replace “priest” by “judge”. :slight_smile: Thanks for the congrats.

And now, could you pls. explain to me what is it about my food and *contracts * with “evaporating pipes”. Should I call a lawyer in case I have technical problems?

I’ll second that! :smiley: