If you’re English, cross the border into Wales and you immediately get a sense of being in foreign parts. OK, they drive on the same side, but the dual language road signs really give you the impression that you are a million miles from home. Non-Welsh speakers may be thankful for the English signs, but those who speak Welsh had a real treat when a new sign was erected in the Swansea area. The sign, intended to prevent lorry drivers from accessing a particular road, made perfect sense in English. It was the Welsh translation that had people scratching their heads.
What did the sign say?
‘Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwich unrhyw waith i’w gyfieithu’ was the motto written under the English wording. Those among you who speak Welsh will already be chuckling, but let us help those of you who don’t. The Welsh, translated into English, reads ‘I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated.’
How the error occurred.
As all official road signs in Wales have to be bilingual, the local authority emailed their in-house translation team for the Welsh translation of ‘No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only.’ The reply came back and the signs were duly written and placed. Unfortunately, the email that was thought to be the translation was an automated reply from the translation service and it was only when Welsh speakers started pointing out the error to the council that the mistake was discovered. The council hurriedly took down the sign and replaced it with the correct dual language sign as soon as they were able.
This is not the first time such a mistake has been made. In 2006, a temporary sign between Cardiff and Penarth that instructed cyclists to dismount was mis-translated into Welsh as ‘bladder inflammation upset.’ Hmm.
Image: “! by mpov, on Flickr”