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To avoid scratching the sink, and also, as the name suggests, to avoid breaking or chipping your plates etc. when they slip through your soapy fingers into the sink (I speak from bitter and distressingly regular experience).
Sink mats are placed inside the sink itself to avoid scratching it - I know someone who has one for this purpose. Sinks can be square, rectangular or round :)
@ Phil - The link I provided in my posting does not belong to the site I'm translating (which I can´t find an image for unfortunately). You can see the image in the original link I posted by going to http://www.plastihogar.es and then clicking on 'Menaje cocina' - you will see an image on that page, among other items.
I had the same problem with the link. When you first visit the site you have to do a search for "salva platos". If you later revisit the same site (as I just have) it sends you straight to the results page. Must be a cookie.
I would query this with the client rather than guessing - it sounds like it might mean different things to different manufacturers. Also, I can't see a picture of a salvaplatos on the original link you posted - is that the site that you're translating?
Lisa: just been looking at the pdf you posted at 18:17, where salvaplatos is translated as "dish mat". If you look at the pictures on p. 32, the label (with the word "Salvaplatos") has a picture of a sink, and this "salvaplatos/dish mat" is definitely on the draining board. Then on the next page, judging from the picture there, they seem to be on the worktops. But none of them seem to be place/table mats.
Some people have round sinks... No, seriously: http://www.google.es/images?hl=es&q="round sink"&rlz=1R2GZEZ...
I've been going over some of the same ground while you've all been talking. I've found "salvaplatos" that do look like place mats, and I don't think the Collins Dictionary just invented that meaning, but Lisa's aren't. I mean, just look at them...
What I've been trying to confirm is whether these are sink mats or draining board mats, and I've found some pictures that suggest that the latter are or can be called salvaplatos, but again, Lisa's really don't look as though they are. But it's not hard to find pages, with pictures, of things called salvaplatos that are definitely sink mats.
Just to check that this is what I think it is. My immediate reaction was that it was going to be a trivet, which of course it isn't. But this looked first of all to me like sth you stick on top of your saucepan to drain off the liquid, but then why wd it be called salvaplatos. The only other thing I can think of is a stand that you put inside your pressure cooker to protect the plate from direct contact with the heat....?
Automatic update in 00:
14 mins confidence: peer agreement (net): +4
Explanation: that's what it looks like to me.
Denise De Pe�a Guatemala Local time: 18:06 Meets criteria Specializes in field Native speaker of: English, Spanish PRO pts in category: 12
Thanks, Denise - this is what it is, although dictionary definitions are a bit confusing :)