Please do not feel confused

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From Victor Steinbok:

AC app installation instructions.  This is a disclaimer page at the end. There's some other funky language in the manual but this one is the most interesting.

Normally I would make every effort to find the original text from which this sort of mangled language is translated and patiently explain how the most egregious mistakes occurred.  This document, however, is so garbled in its entire thought process that it is not worth the trouble.  The original language version is probably such a mess that it doesn't make sense either.

Selected readings


  1. K said,

    August 19, 2022 @ 8:30 pm

    The grammar is bad, sure, but I find it perfectly understandable. Calling it mangled is a bit harsh.

  2. Y said,

    August 19, 2022 @ 8:34 pm

    What adds to the confusion is the actual intended meaning of the text. It says that everything may fail, and that you shouldn't expect it to work.

  3. Victor Mair said,

    August 19, 2022 @ 8:49 pm





  4. ycx said,

    August 19, 2022 @ 9:10 pm

    The usage of APP (in all caps) strongly suggests the original was written in Chinese, likely the PRC variant.

    Nevertheless, I agree with the other posters that while the document's English is poorly written, it's a stretch to consider it "garbled" and the text is understandable with some effort.

    A quick google search of some text shows that the manual is for the Midea OSK103 smart air conditioner.

    Unfortunately an identical model doesn't appear to be sold for the China market and I was unable to find the Chinese original.

  5. Victor Mair said,

    August 19, 2022 @ 10:07 pm

    If my students wrote like this, I would say that their prose is mangled and garbled, not lucid.

  6. Sergey said,

    August 20, 2022 @ 12:57 am

    Once upon a time a company I worked for had hired a journalist as a technical writer. We (engineers) would write documentation, and then she would go and edit it. The results of that editing were abysmal. The English became smooth but the text became completely meaningless, with things mixed up and the logical connections broken. She'd take something that looked too convoluted and change it without realizing that there was a reason why the original was convoluted, that the text described some complex interdependencies. All these dependencies would get mixed up.

  7. Bill said,

    August 20, 2022 @ 1:55 am

    The actual process shall prevail!

  8. maidhc said,

    August 20, 2022 @ 3:55 am

    I don't think I would want a smart air conditioner if this is what the instructions are. Please give me a dumb air conditioner that I just plug in and turn on. What else do you need from an air conditioner?

    I have a friend who is a very successful technical writer for high-tech companies. Her technique is to invite the engineers to come around for cookies. At the same time she gets them to explain what exactly they are talking about.

    The "throw stuff over the fence" model of technical documentation is common, but not very effective. Keep in mind that engineers are always motivated by free food.

  9. /df said,

    August 20, 2022 @ 9:16 am

    No doubt there is also much technical documentation produced in English whose translations read poorly for native speakers. I always find it difficult to imagine the process by which this happens. Is it just that technical writers are retained who aren't fluent enough in the target language (maybe without realising it)? Or are translators employed who don't understand the original text properly? Surely any firm that is designing and producing a consumer product must employ people who know fluent speakers of major target languages, who could be asked to check the translation? Or does no-one care?

  10. Philip Taylor said,

    August 20, 2022 @ 2:51 pm

    I would suggest that only bullet point 2 is particularly bad; the other bullet points are less than perfect but nonetheless communicate the point that they seek to make.

  11. Neven said,

    August 21, 2022 @ 6:38 am

    the grammar is bad, but I can understand it well enough to determine this is not an app that should be installed or used. It doesn't support stronger wifi security than WPA2/PSK. It doesn't support the latest versions of Android or iOS, so it requires you to forego any security features those latest versions provide.

    There's also the question what will happen to the air conditioner when the company that made it inevitably goes out of business. Will it continue to function or does it rely on reaching out to a server that will someday no longer exist? If you paid a reasonable amount of money for this air conditioner and not a fortune; then they almost certainly didn't have budget for security. When security flaws are found in the air conditioner app, who will patch them?

  12. /df said,

    August 22, 2022 @ 6:01 am

    Big Bang Theory S1E09 applies (first and last scenes).

  13. GH said,

    August 22, 2022 @ 9:16 am

    The English is manifestly imperfect, IMO but less so than most examples posted to Language Log, and I don't see that it presents any particular difficulty of understanding.

    @Philip Taylor:

    Why do you say bullet point 2 is particularly bad? If you find it hard to understand, I wonder if that may be less due to the quality of the text and more to unfamiliarity with the technical terms and issues discussed? I would rephrase it as:

    To ensure that the QR code can be scanned successfully, we recommend the use of a smart phone camera with a resolution of at least 5 MP.

    Of course, that is no help if you don't know what a QR code is, why you might want to scan one, or what it has to do with smart phone cameras or the number of their pixels.

  14. GH said,

    August 22, 2022 @ 9:17 am

    (That should have been "…but IMO…")

  15. Philip Taylor said,

    August 22, 2022 @ 11:08 pm

    A different "bullet point 2", GH — I was referring to the first instance thereof, not the second. The first reads —

    Due to special situation may be occurred, we explicitly claims below:Not all of the Android and IOS systems are compatible with APP. We will not be responsible for any issue as a result of the incompatibility.

    The second "bullet point 2" makes perfect sense to me.

  16. GH said,

    August 24, 2022 @ 2:28 am

    Ah, yes. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    I assume it's the preamble that's causing the most difficulty. I read "due to special situation may be occurred" as a euphemism for "since we are aware that problems may occur" (other readings are also possible, but it makes little difference to the overall meaning), and "we explicitly claims below" as "we make this express disclaimer."

  17. Philip Taylor said,

    August 24, 2022 @ 11:42 am

    (Just a test, for another thread — $<$).

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