Sunday, November 6, 2011

Laundry and Literal Translations

We’ve been here a full week now and I had yet to do a load of laundry.
It was piling up. 

But my washing machine, she’s German.  See?

And my dryer? Yep, she only speaks German, too.


(And there’s no English version of the manual available.)

Shawn downloaded a translation app on my phone for me.
Yesterday morning I headed to the laundry room, ready to translate, wash, dry and fold.

Only it wasn’t that simple.

Because literal translations don’t always make sense when placed in context.
Especially the context of, you know, laundry.

Some of them were obvious.  Super Eco.  Jeans.  I got it.  No translation needed.
Baumwolle?  That one was easy.  It means “cotton.”
Spulen, however, translates to “coils.”  This would mean “spin,” right?
How about “flecken?”  Well, that means “patches.”
Hmmmm.  Interesting, but okay.
And what about “zeitvirwahl?” Time code.
I’ve never once used the term “time code” in reference to my laundry. 
Oh, and let’s not forget about “schranktrocken.” That means “dry cabinet.”
I’m going to need a glass of dry wine before I figure this out.

So I called in the big guns.
I met a delightful lady here in Luxembourg who is a native German speaker. 
Swiss German, to be exact.
She’s spent a lot of time in the US, so she gets American culture.
Which means she doesn’t think I'm crazy. 
Or maybe she does, but she’s okay with it because she knows where I’m coming from.
I emailed her my list and she replied back with specific descriptions to each of the buttons on my washing machine and dryer.  I can’t say thank you enough. 
Neither can Shawn.
Now he’ll have clean clothes to wear to work.

Oh, and that “Jeans” cycle?  It takes three hours and thirty one minutes to complete.
Literally translated, that is longer than the movie Braveheart.  And Titanic.

I do believe that Caroline Ingalls could have washed all of her BAUMWOLLE flower print blouses and petticoats out in the wide, open prairie in less than three hours and thirty one minutes.

So, I’ll probably be sticking to the Super Eco cycle because it only takes one hour. 
Or perhaps the 20 minute/3 kg cycle on occasion because that only takes, well, 20 minutes.  (There they go again with the metric system.  IT IS EVERYWHERE.)

And since the dryer takes a bit longer than I’m used to, I’ll probably wash one day, hang dry overnight and slap everything in the dryer the next morning.

So I guess that’s settled.  
We can all rest easy now.


I’ve never felt such a sense of accomplishment over a basket of clean laundry.


  1. Wow, that is some crazy translation. I thought I might be able to help, but the only one I got was "jeans". That's not very helpful, is it? How could all my years of German fail me now? This should be German 1 information.

    I'm glad you have met someone who is able to fill in the gaps for you when you need it!

  2. Ugh. At least "stop" is clear on the dryer dial! Thank goodness for your German friend!!