breaks for electronic devices

Discussion in 'English Only' started by tomtombp, Apr 4, 2013.

  1. tomtombp Senior Member

    Hungarian
    The new model of this USB programmer breaks easily. (or gets broken)
    My new USB programmer is broken (or broken down). It broke yesterday. (or got broken (down))

    Are these sentences correct when it's about an electronic device that stopped working. I think they are although I'm not sure the words between parentheses make them better.

    And I also wonder if there's any better way to express the same.

    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013
  2. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    I think that 'to break down' is probably more appropriately reserved for (usually larger) machines with moving parts.

    Typically: 'my car has broken down'.
     
  3. tomtombp Senior Member

    Hungarian
    Thanks.
    What about breaks vs. gets broken vs. anything else?
     
  4. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    I'm not sure what a 'USB programmer' is, but with that caveat in mind, I suppose I could ramble on a little further.

    If you were to drop it, and for that reason it ceased to function, then it could be said to be broken - it need not have been shattered into a zillion pieces.

    If you were to exceed its design parameters in some way, say you passed too much current through it, and as a result it ceased to function, then it could be said to be broken, and you could be said to have broken it.

    ADDED: I suppose that what I'm saying is that breakage implies abuse or negligence.
     
  5. tomtombp Senior Member

    Hungarian
    Let's talk about a transistor or a chip = electronic component. It stops working due to too much current or overheating or defected material. We don't know if it's the user's fault or not, it just stops working.

    Based on Beryl's reply it seems correct to say that "the chip is broken"

    If it happens frequently enough in a certain device, can we say:
    "That chip breaks easily" or we should say "the chip gets broken easily" or something else?

    If it happened yesterday can we say:
    "That chip broke yesterday" or we should say "the chip got broken yesterday" or something else?

    The same questions for the device that chip is part of, let's say an MP3 player.
    This MP3 player "breaks" easily or "gets broken" easily or something else?
    My MP3 player "broke" yesterday or "got broken" yesterday or something else yesterday?

    I also had "goes bad" in mind but according to other threads it is mainly used for food.
     
  6. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    Hello,

    I think that you are questioning a vocabulary issue about the electronic devices not working properly. This is a specialised dictionary solution. Similar verbs to 'break down' are strictly related to the cause of damage, so if you have, say, a programme malfunction, this might happen because of 'data corruption'. Similarly, you may talk of 'deterioration', 'alteration', 'degradation', 'fried', 'destroy', a.s.o.
     
  7. tomtombp Senior Member

    Hungarian
    There's no general word? Do I always have to describe exactly what happens: the chip easily burns out, overheats, etc. I don't think so. A chip is way more complex and an MP3 player is even so for us to be able to tell what exactly is happening in it. We still somehow want to express that it has failed and so the whole device stopped working. Maybe I found the best word while trying to explain my point. Failed?
    The chip fails easily? The chip failed? That sounds good! Please confirm this. Shouldn't it be "fails to do something?"
    What about the MP3 player?
     
  8. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    No, I don't think so. My supposition about 'breaking' is that it refers to physical things and physical damage (and you were right to say 'they break easily'. The verb 'fail' is used with abstract nouns like software programmes or other abstract things that are related to this electronic technology and the way electronic devices work / function or not. (e.g. 'Failure report' when emails are not sent because of data errors). Still, 'fry' is more specific (cause is =overcharge).
    'Breaks or fries' points to a physical damage. Malfunctioning/alterating/corrupting, etc. to an unknown, abstract reason. That was the reason to mention the cause about something not working.
    Your MP3 player may break due to an overcharge or may no longer function due to an electronic disfunction.
    I wonder if you've got the idea.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013
  9. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    About the chip. I would say the chip is damaged or doesn't work.
     
  10. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    My I-phone/MP4/ TV-set/ washing-machine/door locker / car is broken.
     
  11. tomtombp Senior Member

    Hungarian
    Not 100%. My chip and MP3 players are both physical things. Does that mean they "break" when they stop working?

    I also did a little Google search and both "breaks" and "gets broken" are used in this context but both had just a few hits, with "breaks" having more. I have also heard "go bust." That also had a few hits.
     
  12. tomtombp Senior Member

    Hungarian
    That's clear. They are already broken.
    But how can you convert it into the sentence: "This model of MP3 player easily gets broken." or "This model of MP3 player easily breaks."
    And "My MP3 player broke yesterday." or "My MP3 player got broken yesterday."
     
  13. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    Yes
    No, the first one is better.
    Yes
    The first one is better.
    Yes
    The first one is better.
    The first one is better.


    You can also say, "The chip failed yesterday" or "The chip gave up/died yesterday" (informal)
     
  14. tomtombp Senior Member

    Hungarian
    Damage also seems to be a good option!
    The chip easily gets damaged.
    The chip was/got damaged yesterday.
     
  15. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    1. Yes, but 'They got/are broken.' They cease to function.
    I don't know of this. Are they informal?
     
  16. tomtombp Senior Member

    Hungarian
    We already covered "failed", but "died" is also a good option! Thanks.
     
  17. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    Sorry, PaulQ, I disagree with 'chip failure' without saying what's wrong about it. But I mean here the usage of specialised vocabulary only.
     
  18. tomtombp Senior Member

    Hungarian
    Thank you for your comments, PaulQ too. And irinet, for your help.

    To summarize:

    That chip breaks/dies/fails/gets damaged easily.
    The chip broke/died/failed/was damaged yesterday

    Are these all correct?

    Actually I like them all.

    As for the MP3 player should we stay with break?

    This model of MP3 player breaks easily.
    My MP3 player broke yesterday.

    Am I right or some of the verbs used for the chip can work here too?

    Thank you, sorry for being so picky, but this is something I've never been sure of, and what I need to know for my work.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013
  19. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    I cannot agree with this. Concrete nouns also fail: joints (human, mechanical and welded) fail, chips fail, batteries fail, in fact anything that is capable of failing, fails.
     
  20. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    Of course, anyone could say, 'my phone's dead'. Why bother then?
    I thought the thread was dealing with jargons!! My mistake.
     
  21. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    > If it happens frequently enough in a certain device, can we say...

    I think that we'd describe it as unreliable, or faulty, or error-prone, defective, or flawed.
     
  22. tomtombp Senior Member

    Hungarian
    Guys, would you please confirm my summary in my post #18. By the time I have finished it, a few new posts appeared, moving my summary up and so making it less noticeable.
     
  23. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    A chip can fail in performing what it is supposed to do. I am only referring (and I stick to it) because it is an electronic device related to this new technology. It seems to me more abstract.
    I agree with Beryl.
     
  24. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    Your summary is fine.
     
  25. tomtombp Senior Member

    Hungarian
    Thanks again!
     
  26. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    I am afraid there is no way out, irinet :): One of the most famous failures in recent history was Challenger:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Challenger_disaster
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_joint#Failure
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2013
  27. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    No, no, no!
    I am only referring to IT and everything related!!! Let us stick to the 'chip' word. That's all, PaulQ.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013
  28. tomtombp Senior Member

    Hungarian
    "Chip failed" sounds good to me.
    And I'll also add "die" to the list of verbs used with mp3 player. It sound good, googling it confirmed it and it is not as ambiguous as breaks (into pieces) is.
     
  29. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    The problem with 'chip' is that it is half-hardware and half-software. We can say a chip 'fails' when we refer to its half-software part, and by that I mean it fails 'to read data' (it was designed for that and it fails its purpose). I gathered that that was the real issue of the debate here!
    And a chip 'gets broken' or 'knocked out' when we think of a physical damage to it, the other half (hardware), I mean circuits overheating, etc.
    Now the so extremely useful context for what I have written above:
    1."If one circuit on a chip breaks (hardware component damage)​, the chip will fail."(software problem, malfunctioning)
    2. If a single transistor fails in your cellphone (no longer inter-connected to transmit data - software problem hint due to the use of 'fail'), the entire chip can be knocked out (informal).
    3. Once a chip overheats (hardware problem-'cracks'), it can start malfunctioning / it can fail (software related errors/flaws).
    4. The chip is toasted. (informal)
    I hope this is more useful than what I have been said in previous posts.
    See you,
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2013
  30. tomtombp Senior Member

    Hungarian
    irinet, as far as I understand, your conclusion - since the chip runs software- is that all hardware problems of the chip will result in software malfunction, since the software can no longer run properly, because the chip is damaged. I don't think we need to go into details about how the failure of a semiconductor within a chip influenced the software running on the chip unless the issue is discussed at a meeting of the R&D department. I think using "died" for both the chip and the circuitry or device is the safest way to go in common speech.
     

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