Lost in translation

Lost in translation

In the principality of Wales, there are two official languages: English and Welsh. This means that all official roadsigns must be bilingual. A sign that says “Reduce speed now” must also say “Arafwch nawr”, which is actually much easier to say than it looks.

There is — or rather, there was, since it’s been taken down now — a sign that says the following:

No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only.

And underneath it, the following missive:

Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith i’w gyfieithi.

Unless you’re Welsh, you won’t appreciate the problem here, but let me start by explaining how this came to happen. Officials at Swansea Council (admittedly not a area where Welsh is very widely spoken) sent the text off to be translated and received an e-mail in reply. The contents of this e-mail were duly written onto the sign, and the sign erected. It wasn’t until some people who actually spoke Welsh started taking photos and sending them to a Welsh-speaking magazine called Golwg that councillors thought something might be amiss.

Here is a translation of the Welsh part of the sign back into English:

I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated.

Read the story (with pictures) here.