“Anti-instruction” user manuals

Translations
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Humor by mistake

Years ago, a video from the comedian Berto Romero in the television show of Andreu Buenafuente became viral. In this well-remembered humor column, the text of the user manual of a sandwich maker was analyzed. The manual had been clearly translated without the involvement of professionals. The result was simply hilarious. If you have not seen it yet, you are still on time to watch it and enjoy it. They will be some well-spent minutes.

In the manual, which was showed to the comedian by one of his followers/viewers, it is possible to see, page after page, texts that should indicate users how to use the electronic device and do it properly, but it only includes a set of vague expressions or lacking any type of sense until it makes you burst out laughing.

The lack of an adequate translation makes it an absurd and immensely funny text, even when it is not its purpose, but the opposite. And there is where humor highlights the seriousness of that absence of professionalism when drafting the manual. A translation mistake is not longer a joke. The quality of a translation must be the line that divides the correct use or the appropriate installation of a product from failure.

The translator has the task of understanding the meaning of the term being translated for the text to achieve its purpose. A translation mistake in a manual can make the user incur in danger for him/her or can cause the malfunction of the product acquired. And, in addition, it must do so in a correct, accurate language, in a tone that does not lack the technical accuracy but that it comprehensible for the person reading it.

And these instructions in this case the user manual of the sandwich maker, are not an isolated case. To prove it, the reader can look for any technical manual at home and check it for themselves. Or they can try to understand some of the following recommendations of this manual for the installation of an air conditioning unit for the home, which we selected for you, and that was not hard to find. Where it is clear that it is possible to turn an instructions manual into a complete failure for comprehension.

Here are the ones that we found that were the best example in the instructions Manual for an air conditioning unit:

In chapter 7 entitled NORMAL PHENOMENON, the user is reassured by telling him/her to listen to the “sa sa” sound. So now you know, do not worry because the “sa sa” is a normal phenomenon.

In Chapter 5, in the “Attention for Energy Saveng” section, there is an indication to avoid “the indisposition”. A very valuable and “differen” piece of advice.

Also in Chapter 5, in the cleaning section, the user discovers there are “stubborn dirty people” but that can always be removed with a “tender dry cloth”. And, as indicated in the instructions, do not think about doing it with a “iron net ball”.

It is very important that the Safety instructions are clear. Otherwise, you could be installing this air conditioning unit in “bombarding places” and cause a “no or malfunction”.

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