Lost in Translations
WHEN a foreign language makes even simple tasks difficult
I have a friend named Fran. Fran and I have not been getting along lately. She is helpful, but only on her terms. She blurts out and interrupts me all the time and in an extremely whiny annoying voice. She will start a job and then stop right in the middle. I tolerate Fran because she is the only one who can help me with one specific task.
Fran is what I have named my clothes dryer. Meet Fran. Fran – these are my friends, friends – this is Fran.
So Fran works hard enough. I am grateful for Fran – don’t get me wrong. There are many apartments in Copenhagen that don’t have a Fran. They hang their clothes to dry both inside and outside their apartments. I can even say there is a charm in watching neighbors from the adjacent building’s courtyard shake out their sheets carefully placing them on the communal drying racks. If I had to air dry my clothes – I would love one of these beautiful functional racks. (I am adoring Scandinavian design.)
But that’s Dryp, not Fran. Upon our initial arrival, we made use of several airbnb temporary apartments. Most had no Fran. Their towels were scratchy and almost hard from air-drying. If you are used to this, it’s not a big deal. I guess we’re wimps when it comes to our towels. Or just used to a softer fluff. It is what it is. When we moved in to our own place, I was quite pleased to meet Fran. Initially. There she was. New, shiny, clean and mine. Our towels would be soft. Isk (that’s Danish for “ish”).
Three children exude much laundry. I use Fran often. She is difficult to understand. Maybe because she is German. She is Bosch. Bosch is a popular brand here. There are many great neon signs that decorate the Copenhagen skyline attesting to this.
I know this is a German company. But I know what German looks like and Fran’s words are not German. So when I set Fran to what seems a middle-isk setting and she calls to me with an insistent BEEEP, I assume that she has completed her task. And my clothes should be dry. That is her task. WRONG. What? What are you BEEEP’ing for? Lint? No. Cleared that. Oh. In these washing machines – you have to empty the water. Did you know that? Luckily one of the former airbnb hosts showed this to me. Ok Fran. Water emptied. Start. Again. 5 minutes in. BEEEEP. WHY Fran WHY? I don’t know. In attempt to move forward in my relationship with Fran, I call in help. Google Translate. Moving abroad? Engelsk is not the primary language? Google Translate. Life saver. Don’t know what the parking sign says? Google Translate. Don’t know what that meat is at the grocery store? Google Translate. Don’t know which is the mens room or the womens room? Google Translate. Get it immediately. So I bring G.T. in to assist with Fran.
The app is very user friendly – just type in the Dansk word and it translates for you to Engelsk. Only this is what G.T. tells me.
Hunh. So syntet was probably the only word that I could have figured out myself. Yep. Thanks. What the heck is “synthetic mycket torrt?” Meanwhile. BEEEEP. Dryer stopped again. Clothes not yet dry. Fait no accompli. Boo. Come on Fran. I have other things to do. Like visit a slot or a museet or a kunst galleri. (art gallery.) Many days go by. BEEEEP. Check. Restart. BEEEEP. Check. Restart. Feeling like I am being hung out to dry. Pun intended.
So G.T. has another function that had yet to make itself aware to me. Detect language. Why would I need to detect language? I’m in Denmark. Isn’t it in Danish? No, as a matter of fact. Fran is not Danish at all. Born to German and SWEDISH parents. Fran speaks SWEDISH! Is this what you have been trying to tell me Fran? Its been a misunderstanding the entire time! BEEEEEP. Clothes dry. Mama is happy. BEEEEP. Sigh. Restart. At least she isn’t as mean as my oven who calls me names.