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Mar 31, 2009

"Never let the cock beat loose...."

It's common enough here in Germany to complain about manuals written in Chinglish and other variations of Far Eastern pseudo-English or, often worse, attempts at German. But as they say, those who live in glass houses shouldn't cast stones. The people of my host country pride themselves on the "quality" of their English, but I suspect that the actual volume of garbage that translators here produce exceeds anything coming from the Orient. Many published examples certainly cannot claim to be better.

Take the operating instructions for the RG Rapid-Launcher from Röhm, for example. This is a device for training dogs, which is based on a modified 9 mm pistol. It launches foam dummies about 60 meters into fields and water, where the dog is supposed to retrieve them. I purchased one of these recently as part of the training program for my Wire-haired Vizsla Quodians Aristos and another dog who may join him soon. The German weapons law (WaffG, English information here) is very strict, and even blank guns incapable of firing projectiles require a license (in this case a "small weapons permit" or Kleinwaffenschein) if used outside one's property or certain other premises. In the special case of certain tested dummy launchers for dog training, however, these restrictions do not apply, and this status is indicated on the device by "PTB 795" enclosed in a square (as opposed to a circle for devices subject to a permit). Note that I use the word "device", not "weapon". According to an assessment notice of the German Federal Criminal Police, these dummy launchers are not weapons.

The monkey who translated the operating instructions obviously didn't understand what s/he was dealing with. The first page describes the device as a weapon. The terminology used throughout the text is inappropriate; being lazy, I scanned the English version first, and I was baffled at the frequent mention of a "cock". I then took a look at the original German text, which refers to a "Hahn", but for firing devices like this that is a "hammer". The clip which holds eight 9 mm blank rounds often referred to as a "cartridge bushing". A felt insert for adding scent to the dummies is referred to as a "headpiece". The whole text in English reads like a bad attempt by a high school student who never learned to use a dictionary properly. What concerns me particularly is that despite its classification as a non-weapon, the device is capable of causing severe injury if not handled properly, and the lousy English translation does little to ensure safety. There is a French version of the text too, but fortunately I don't read French, so I am spared whatever horrors are to be found there.

The ITI, BDÜ and other organizations have produced a nice brochure advising companies on why quality translation matters and how to obtain it. Versions are available in several languages. Perhaps I should send a copy of the German version to the manufacturer as a probably fruitless attempt to make them aware of how they are damaging their business with such trash.

2 comments:

  1. Fine looking dog, I hope it will survive the "weapon training"!

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  2. Thanks, Alejandro. Aristos is doing fine, or better than that perhaps. Right now we're up in Jutland near the northernmost tip of Denmark so he can breed with a nice young bitch who invited him up a week ago. If everything works out, the puppies should be born in July.

    The manual for this equipment is translated very badly, but the device itself is working out nicely for training. I can recommend it as long as you can read the German text. The English is hopeless and the French is probably just as bad.

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