Road sign problems in Wales, UK

posted on 3 Nov 2008 in Articles of Interest

The English portion of the sign is fine, but the Welsh underneath it reads:  “I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated.”  Apparently the sign makers just used what they thought was the translation but was actually an automatic email response from the translator. 

When reading about this I thought to myself – how many people read Welsh anyway? (Welsh is the language spoken by many people in Wales, Great Britain). According to the Wikipedia entry, about 457,946 people can speak read and write it, so there has been a significant outcry against these poorly translated signs. 

The BBC article lists some more Welsh gaffes: 

• 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 building site in 2006 were mystified when a sign apologising for the inconvenience was written in Welsh as well as English.

Time for a Welsh version of I suppose.

Hats off to Kevan Murphy for the tip.

  • IludiumPhosdex

    I was able to get a close Welsh translation of the English message as follows, using InterTran:

    Na chofnodiad achos ‘n drwm da vehicles. Residential safle ond.

  • renrut

    ‘Welsh is the language spoken by many people in Wales, England’

    Er, Wales isn’t in England. It’s next to it and they are both part of Great Britain.

    I’m English and don’t really care – but I’m surprised there aren’t a load of outraged Welshies on here! They hate the English…

  • engrishwebmaster

    @renrut – Thanks, I changed it. Just another ignorant American here…

  • ric

    It shows a symptom of a bad elitist attitude: the “ultra-welsh, nationalist type of English-hater”.

    Think about it… the only way that sign could’ve got through the system is for that translator to have had his out of office reply in Welsh alone, so that the person who requested the translation, and received that reply, believed it was the translation they’d requested and so used it for the sign.

    To me, this makes the translator the one at fault, because of the refusal to use english despite being a translator.

    Such people confuse ‘anti-English’ with ‘pro-Welsh’, and thus do nothing for the furtherance of Welsh language and culture in the wider world — apart from draw ridicule to it in places like here.

  • charly

    hmm i think this is getting a little serious and heated, why cant we just sit back and enjoy the engrish ppl? the sign making people have been punished enough.

  • David

    The following translation is probably also off, only the HGV bit, but it’s a better guess as to what it should have looked like.
    I do speak welsh myself, but I don’t exactly use words like heavy, goods, vehicle and residential everyday. =]
    Dim cofnod i CND (Cerbyd Nwyddau Drwm). Safle preswyl yn unig.

  • Figure.10

    aww. :(

    You could kill somebody with that. :O

  • Sam

    I think it’s hilarious, because everyone in Wales either speaks Welsh or has some knowledge, and swyddfa is a word everyone knows because all the post offices have it outside. This means anyone from Wales can see the Welsh does not say the same thing, but people from England wouldn’t have a clue. We could write anything underneath. Jokes, Poems, Insults, Limericks. This could be the start of the world’s biggest in-joke. The whole country full of signs that give you a laugh. When reading this I thought to my self – Why doesn’t this guy know anything about Welsh, but it’s your loss because you wont be able to read the jokes on our signs.

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