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The Translator and the Washing Machine

The Translator and the Washing Machine
Simonetta

I had an old washing machine and one day, it decided to break.

‘It’s not worth fixing, you should get a new one’, the engineer who had come to look at it told me.

After my initial disappointment, I realised that this was the chance I had been waiting for to buy a new model, maybe something smarter and more efficient, and also more eco-friendly, which is something I’m very mindful of.

After much careful research, I found what I was looking for: made by a well-known German brand that is serious about technology, this washing machine was advanced, but not too fancy, and had a good range of programmes.

I was pleased with my choice and finally the day came to put my first wash on.

I decided to try out the delayed start option. This is when the fun started!

Step by step I followed the instructions, reading the Italian translation of the manual, and I set up the delayed start programme. Later on, I realised that the washing machine hadn’t started when it should have.

I went back to the instructions and tried again – I must have missed a step the first time – but again, nothing happened.

Great, so my new super-duper washing machine didn’t even work?

Something is not quite right here, I thought. Succumbing to the irresistible temptation to put my translator’s hat on, I took a look at the instructions in their original language, German. This is when I discovered that a sentence was missing from the Italian translation: ‘press the “Start” button again to confirm your choice’.

Was this an omission? A translation error? A revision oversight?

One thing is certain and that’s the inefficiency of those instructions. And just like that, the brand’s well-established reputation took a nosedive in my view. Was it unaware of the importance of a correct translation, or perhaps guilty of underestimating its value?

And what if, instead of a washing machine, these incorrectly translated instructions had been for a type of cutting tool? What risk would that have posed for a potential user?

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