International signs

Mop dos and don'ts
Mop dos and don’ts

International road signs and other symbols have intrigued and confused me ever since we started traveling in Europe. I’m certain that we’ve driven down many one-way streets, the wrong way, because the navigator (me) couldn’t distinguish between “No Parking” and “Do not enter”. In my own defense, they are both round, red, and have a line through them. It’s just like those easily mixed male/female symbols so it’s a good thing that public restrooms here are all unisex—no, not really (sort of) but that will make for a funny future blog post about our experiences.

Today’s topic came to mind because we bought a mop. When you own a house where every square millimeter of floor space is covered by tile and part of the walls too, having more than one way to keep everything washed down and clean comes in very handy. As with many things that we purchase here, the instructions (who knew that mops even needed directions?) come in a multitude of languages.

The first thing I noticed was that for two of the languages, Polish and Romanian, their instructions started with a word I recognized: mop. Since we’re now almost equidistant from Warsaw and Bucharest, that may come in handy on vacation. Anyway, it kind of went downhill from there, especially when I moved into the section of symbols that presumably every European understands at a glance. The first, which looks like waves of water with the number 40 below is probably the washing temperature and the line drawing of an iron must mean that we’re not supposed to iron the mop. But the other 3, all of which have big X’s across them meaning don’t do something? I don’t know but the last one is my favorite; a circle with an X. I think it means that once you’ve washed the mop in 40 degree C water and not ironed it, don’t use it…but it might mean no parking.

5 thoughts on “International signs

  1. Hello Bob!
    I can help you with all of these but not in English, I didn’t learn that kind of vocabulary.
    Le triangle est utilisé pour l’eau de javel (ou autre agent de blanchiment mais la javel est le produit standard).
    Le cercle à l’intérieur du carré représente un sèche-linge.
    Le cercle tout seul représente le nettoyage à sec.
    Et le fait que tout ses symboles soient recouverts d’une croix signifie effectivement qu’il ne faut donc PAS utiliser d’eau de javel, de sèche linge ou le nettoyage à sec.
    Pour le reste tes déductions étaient bonnes.
    On retrouve les mêmes symboles sur tous les vêtements que l’on achète.
    See you soon.

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  2. OK Bob, starting with “today’s topic came to mind because we bought a mop” – this post was especially good for the Sunday soul, and I won’t ever iron my mop again.

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  3. It is difficult not to drive down a street the wrong way occasionally, especially among all the tight, tiny streets in downtown cities, guided by a gps that doesn’t always know about one way streets. I did it myself only yesterday. On top of that, people park on either side of the street so it sometimes feels like driving the wrong way when it isn’t.

    I have often found international symbols on appliances unhelpful. Why not just write it in some known language (not martian) and let people translate it?

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