Thursday, January 24, 2008

How to be European, in one easy lesson

When we were packing for our recent move, I came across this sticker that Jana sent us a few years ago. In case you need the background, signs like this are fairly common in Europe, but totally weird out Australians (and NZers) and she thought we could do with introducing a little cultural uncertainty into our bathroom. For guests, you understand.


What struck me, looking at this sticker again, was the different translations. The German tells you what is not allowed: "Please do not stand while peeing." The English is a polite request to sit down, without any mention of bodily functions. And the pragmatic French translates as, "He who sits down does not pee on his feet."

13 Comments:

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

The French also has a catchy rhyme! That's hilarious.

(Is it more European for guys to pee sitting down? I didn't know that.)

flossie said...

Ha!

You should totally submit this to passiveaggressivenotes.com!

Ianqui said...

The French version also has a confucian-esque quality to it, which is not really stereotypical for them!

Propter Doc said...

I would take this as yet more evidence that the British are not European. I've seen many 'loos' that have 'please take a seat' but my experience is restricted to the little girls room.
I am not aware of any compulsion for European males to sit to pee more frequently than North Americans, but suspect that the unisex nature of many European washrooms implies that there may only be a toilet and not a urinal.

StyleyGeek said...

That's true, Propter Doc: Brits seems to be excluded from this weirdness.

And yes, P/H, most (non-British) European guys I know were taught by their mothers that it is impolite to stand.

grace said...

How fascinating! I had no idea that European males were trained to sit down to pee. Peeing standing up is such a big thing in British (and NZ and Aust) culture. And there are sometimes even avant garde facilities for *women* to pee standing up! And Europeans have been happily sitting down all this time....

JustMe said...

ok, where can i get me one of these signs?!

The History Enthusiast said...

LOL! And, I was really impressed with myself that my somewhat limited knowledge of French and my very limited knowledge of German paid off...I actually noticed the differences on my own (I brag because us Americans are so insular that we don't often bother to learn other languages...at least not as many as Europeans do).

I want one of these for my bathroom!

Propter Doc said...

OK but in France and Italy I have experienced washrooms for girls to stand and pee. Some kind of arrangement where you swing off two bars at the side of the cubical and hope you get it in the pit, not your pants.

Badaunt said...

In Japan the little diagram with a big red cross through it would be of someone squatting on the seat.

I don't know if you can also find those in the men's toilets. Must ask The Man.

EcoGeoFemme said...

I stayed with a host family during a semester abroad in Scandinavia and they had this same sticker on their toilet! I thought it was so funny I told all my friends about it.

Clair said...

I can honestly say that I've never seen a sign like this anywhere in Europe before, although I don't tend to hang out in blokes loos.

Geeka said...

This is now my desktop background. I can't wait for a presentation.