Can Translation Hurt?

If blade damage, don’t be fly, otherwise it will create the human body or blame damage. Now, how’s that for a perfect safety warning! I’ve just found a picture of it in my Facebook feed, originally posted by Translators do it better, and here I am.


I can guess what I should do ‘if blade damage’, but what about a poor fly that buys this beautiful le remote control helicopter, should it quit being a fly? Or does it mean that it will get a human body? ‘And who can it blame damage on?’

But let’s get more serious now. I know that companies want to make a profit for as little as possible; however, it should not be at the expense of consumer safety. And even though machine translation software like Google Translate or Bing Translator may help you translate a couple of words to get at least a vague idea of the meaning of the original, I don’t think they are fit for properly translating anything more complicated than ‘how are you’ or ‘hi, my name is …’. (Well, I hope the sentence was machine translated. If not, if it’s a human translation, then the translator should be nailed to a cross.) Companies should really avoid using machine translation, all the more so when it comes to health protection and safety instructions.

With a huge body of consumer safety protection laws in place out there, I believe competent authorities should also check whether a product safety warning is properly translated into the language of the country where the product is marketed. And that’s not to mention that manufacturers should be the first to keep customers out of harm’s way. Is it really that expensive or difficult for them to hire a professional translator to make sure that all the necessary documentation is translated properly? I know that user manuals, guides, instructions and stuff like that are not a piece of literature, but they should be understandable, at least.

With incomprehensible warnings and instructions, you never know what might happen, and then ‘who blame damage for’? 🙂


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