Home » Could This Be Your Rosetta Stone?: Cold Start

Could This Be Your Rosetta Stone?: Cold Start

Cs Heinkel1

Here’s a little thought-experiment to start your morning: you found a glowing, humming pill-like object on the ground by your car, so you did what you always do: you popped it in your mouth. Also, can I use two colons in one sentence? Like I’m stringing together commands in BASIC? Anyway, you pop the pill in your mouth and the next thing you know you wake up in a strange land, clutching a Heinkel Kabine brochure from the late 1950s. All the pages but two are soaked in what could be your vomit, but it smells like Dragonfruit Fanta, which you’re pretty sure doesn’t exist. One clear page is the one you see above, the other the text of the callouts. Can you learn the local language from this, like it was your Rosetta Stone?

Here’s the facing page:

Cs Heinkeltext

Now no cheating if you already know Dutch; if that’s you, excuse yourself immediately go eat one of those brownies that make you see god’s uncle or whatever. For the rest of us, can that picture and these descriptions give you enough to figure things out? Like, I think the 3. for the windows suggests the windows are plexiglass and maybe “twee kinderen” means something about little kids?

Is 6 something about engine access? Is 5 about luggage space? Is the vocabulary here enough to get by, somehow?

Take a moment and imagine, please. It’ll be worth it.

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39 Responses

  1. I speak German, so I’m cheating but only a little bit.

    It’s got a “strong four-stroke engine” according to item 1.

    I think item 3 is saying that behind the seats there is an empty space that will hold two children (“twee kinderen”) or some luggage, and parenthetically says that “no other autoscooter offers so much room”.

    1. Same. As a native English speaker who learned German all I have to do is drink Dutch beer and maybe watch some sweedish chef skits and I can read this without issues.

      1. As a Swede who lives in NYC but also speaks passable German (and my cousin is married to a Dutchman) I can assure you that Swedish is very little help with Dutch.
        Reading it is easy, but the sounds they make have barely any relation at all to the letters involved, so understanding spoken Dutch is HARD.

  2. There is no point even trying to learn Dutch, everyone from Dutchland? Holland? The Netherlands! already speaks better English than a native.

    Is note 6 “in this bin is the motor, accessible when broken”?

    1. Holland is the two largest provinces of the Netherlands, but they’re pretty laid back there, so you can use the names pretty much interchangeably without annoying anyone.
      And yes, they all speak great English.

      1. I have heard that Frisian, spoken in some areas of the Netherlands is the closest language to English. One day I would like to go there and see if I could get by.

      2. In Holland they might be relaxed about it, but outside those 2 provinces we get pretty pissed about Hollanders calling our parts also Holland. We don’t care if foreigners do it however

  3. “Also, can I use two colons in one sentence?”
    Oh, yes, you can though with a caveat: it’s obligatory to start thusly: “Call me Ishmael.”

  4. Reminds me of when I drove one of the Lane Museum’s Tatras, there was an owner’s manual in the glovebox, but my co-driver and I had a heck of a time trying to figure out what those words meant – things like “lights,” ” wipers”, “dash lights” etc were difficult to parse out – especially when it was getting dark out and we were driving on strange (to us) roads….and the knobs were all white plastic and the same shape.

  5. My dutch may not be perfect, I believe the full translation is as follows:

    *For the discerning gentleman who enjoys wearing a shirt and tie with his anorak*

    The simultaneous operation of a life-size lady puppet and sporty autoscooter can take years to master, so please take note of these important safety features:

    1. The hamster wheel powering your vehicle is a normal wear item and must be regularly inspected, cleaned and re-hamstered to maintain performance. We recommend o.a. gauge hamsters in a light tan color.

    2. The drivers’ seat may look comfortable, but after 15 minutes in this rattle can you will groan like your grandfather when trying to stand up.

    3. We advertise this space as both seating and luggage storage, but in truth it is too small for either (I dare you to try cramming an autoscooter in there)

    4. When headlights or steering columns fall off, store them in the handy storage bins located next to your seat, and push your autoscooter off a cliff.

    5. Windows will fog up rapidly if you effectively stimulate your lady puppet, so keep a clean, dry cloth handy at all times.

    6. The engine compartment doubles as a trash can.

    7. Angry hand gestures should be made via either the vent windows or panoramic sunroof. Use as many swear words as possible for maximum effect.

    8. The dashboard may look informative, but don’t be fooled: the horn is quieter than your girlfriend’s farts, the clock is right twice a day, and the speedometer needle bends from zero to minus five. Like every Heinkel-made product, you will curse the day you bought this.

    The shoddy construction of your Heinkel-autoscooter can be blamed on the useless technicians in our Kaziranglian factory. Please direct your angry letters and official complaints to them instead of your Heinkel agent.

  6. I don’t speak a word of dutch, I only drive through Holland to get to France from Denmark. Oh yes, UIT means “Ausfahrt”/Exit, I’ve learned that one on the motorway..

    But I DO watch hours and hours of dutch Citroën DS repair videos on YouTube, because they’re just the best there is, and when seeing the parts and repairs at the same time as hearing the words, I understand most of what is going on anyway 🙂

  7. Where do you read about plexiglass or windows in 3?

    5 is about windows not luggage space

    6 is spot on. Although engine access from the inside is not what I would call a handy feature, keep oily things out of my interior please.

  8. Somewhat relatedly, in the 50s & 60s some Americans would put humorous stickers, likely ordered from J.C. Whitney, in their VW Beetles to identify dashboard features:
    Das Glimmerblinken (the headlight switch)
    Der Drizzleflippen (the windshield wiper switch)
    Die Warmercougher (the choke)
    Das Schmokegedunka (the ashtray)
    Der Puttersparken (the ignition switch)
    Etc, etc.
    Some of those jokers would also have bumper stickers that said things like “Made in der Black Forest by der gnomes.” Real knee-slappers.

  9. I don’t speak Dutch but I recognized it immediately. I have two Dutch cars (I drove the running one to work today) so I’ve learned to fumble my way through just enough of it, particularly in an automotive context, to convince myself I’ve grasped the gist of what was written. This may explain some, but not all, of the problems I’ve brought upon myself when it comes to maintenance and repairs.

    1. I hope for you that you have a Spyker or Donkervoort, but I’m guessing it are DAFs? Or did we make other cars? (I’m not counting the mini which is now made in the old DAF plant)

      1. They’re DAFs in all but name, which is to say a ’75 Volvo 66 GL wagon and a ’76 66 GL sedan. The wagon is my parts car and the sedan is, I hope, my ride home tonight.

  10. Dutch friend: “When you read a Dutch sign, say it out loud and it’ll make more sense.”

    It’s worked for me, a guy with Dutch heritage, but no knowledge of the language.

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