Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Humans are the Best Translators

Behold our Christmas gift to ourselves!

Our very own Christmas pyramid. Damon swears he wanted one since he was a kid. I don't think I knew about them as a kid. Yes, it's a bit on the small side. These things are way more expensive than I ever would have guessed, so a bigger one was definitely outside the budget. In case you haven't seen one of these before, the heat from the burning candles spins the big propeller on top, turning all the little figures around in circles. This one has a little nativity scene on it (bottom layer, holy family, three wise men, and a couple of barn animals; top layer, random shepherd with two sheep) but you can get them with all variety of things on them.
I know it's kind of kitschy but I love all the little wood painted ornaments and things you can get here. They're so colorful and cheery. No, I am not turning to the dark side and hope that I will not soon start liking plates with kittens painted on them, giant cat sculptures, and glitter-covered six-armed realistic dragon candle holders. (I actually saw that last thing at Woolworth yesterday. You have to see it to believe it.)

In other news, one of the companies that manufactures said cute ornaments and other cute wood things really needs to hire a human to translate their instructions. Or, at the very least, a human to read over the instructions after they have it translated by Babelfish. See right - it's a bit hard to read so here is the text:

"Please remove carefully and without power the package. Be careful that the package doesn't hang at the small wooden parts.
Please removes the protectiondisk from paper between pyramidaxis and glassbearing.
Use only tea-candles diameter 37 and high 16 mm.
The pyramid is not a toy and cannot be used by children.
Doesn't leave the burning candle without control. Eighth please on it, that the wingwheel with burning candle always rotates. If the wing-wheel comes through unfavorable circumstances to the halt, the wood can burn."

Ok, this was a pretty awful translation from the start, but one might be able to figure it all out without knowing German. Until we get to the bolded sentence, "eighth please on it". This brings this translation to a whole new level of awful. Only someone with some knowledge of German is going to have any idea what is going on there. (They want you to please pay attention, keep watch, something along these lines.) Nice job, guys!


    i love the action shot ;)
    and the super translation <3

  2. So, what happens when you feed the English back through Babelfish? Always fun to try... :)

  3. Humans may be the best translators, but machines give the funniest results!
    I would never have figured out Achte bitte darauf.
    ian in hamburg

  4. ...but I showed this to my German wife, and she got it right away!

  5. Hehe! I just bought a universal remote. The instructions say in step 2, "The LED light will be on at the moment. Then release the pressed both keys." Huh? Of course, it's from the same company whose satellite installation instructions tell one to "refer to the exploded drawings", lol.

    I love those pyramid things. Ever since I saw National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, lol. Bought a cheapo one last year at Kodi :-)

  6. I didn't get the "Eighth" bit until I saw the first comment ... I guess I have become immune to bad translations. In fact, I sometimes wonder if we Auslanders are kept around simply to keep the quality of translation to a higher standard.

    They do burn if they do not turn. Sometimes you need to spend a little more to get a nice pyramid ... don't be surprised if you upgrade in the coming years.

  7. They are very nice. As a kid we had a tall one, which didn't work too well. I guess the candles where to small/short for it to spin. Now my shorter one works fine.

  8. Pretty pyramid! We have a really old one somewhere and it smells all musty so I don't like to use it any more but I'd love to get a new one.

    The instructions kill me. You wonder why in the world they wouldn't get a human being to check them. Maybe they just do it for our entertainment? :-9

  9. Martina: The joys of direct translation! :)

    Sara: Damon took it! :D

    Jen: Putting "eighth please on it" back into Babelfish comes out "achtes bitte auf es" which is messed up!

    Ian: The German is on the other side of the instruction sheet so that would have helped you figure it out - because you know German! It wouldn't help non-German speakers though.

    Dbunny: What is Kodi? Oh the stores that I will never know...

    Mike: I don't think we'll need to upgrade to a nicer one - do they get nicer than this kind? It's handmade in the Erzgebirge, just small. Unless you mean we'll need to upgrade after we accidentally set this one on fire! :D

    Bek: I love the tall ones! Interesting to think about the potential problems though!

    Christina: Maybe you could just air it out a little to get rid of the smell? :) Not that I want to discourage you getting a cute new one...now is the time to buy!

  10. Some Babelfisch Fun

    Input: Eighth please on it.
    Output: Achtes bitte auf es.

    Input: Achte bitte darauf.
    or Achten Sie bitte darauf.
    Output: Pay attention please to it.

    I would have expected much less from Babelfischlein.

  11. I couldn't see your picture but I love those things and have always wanted one that worked. I had a cheap small one years ago and it didn't work so I assumed that the idea that they actually turned was a myth!

  12. See, now that cracks me up! Although I am sure I sound like that when I try to speak German :)


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