Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Sign of the Times

A most people know who live in Great Britain there is a railway station in Wales which whose name is the longest word in the British language. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, is a Victorian composition primarily for the benefit of tourists, for the station serving the village of Llanfairpwll on the North Wales Coast Line from London Euston station to Holyhead.

This week however the Welsh language again caused a few issues.

When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed. Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated".So that was what went up under the English version which barred lorries from a road near a supermarket.

"When they're proofing signs, they should really use someone who speaks Welsh," said journalist Dylan Iorwerth. Swansea Council became lost in translation when it was looking to halt heavy goods vehicles using a road near an Asda store in the Morriston area

All official road signs in Wales are bilingual, so the local authority e-mailed its in-house translation service for the Welsh version of: "No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only".

The reply duly came back and officials set the wheels in motion to create the large sign in both languages.The notice went up and all seemed well - until Welsh speakers began pointing out the embarrassing error.

This is not ehe only time Welsh has been translated incorrectly or put in the wrong place:

Cyclists between Cardiff and Penarth in 2006 were left confused by a bilingual road sign telling them they had problems with an "inflamed bladder".

• In the same year, a sign for pedestrians in Cardiff reading 'Look Right' in English read 'Look Left' in Welsh.

• In 2006, a shared-faith school in Wrexham removed a sign which translated the Welsh for staff as "wooden stave".

• Football fans at a FA Cup tie between Oldham and Chasetown - two English teams - in 2005 were left scratching their heads after a Welsh-language hoarding was put up along the pitch. It should have gone to a match in Merthyr Tydfil.

• People living near an Aberdeenshire (Scotland) building site in 2006 were mystified when a sign apologising for the inconvenience was written in Welsh as well as English.

Barry Eva (Storyheart)


Jodie said...

I wonder if the out of office was just in Welsh or if it was in both languages and the official just didn't bother to scroll down.

Either way, I still think that the first clue should have been the speed with which the "translation" arrived. Surely you'd realise that a translation is going to take longer than three seconds. I can't imagine that there are many translation agencies out there who are going to get back to you quicker than that.

Personally, I'd find it a bit weird if there was no preamble in the email too but maybe that's just me...

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