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"E-Mail Error Ends Up on Road Sign":

The BBC reports:

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. Please 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.

Thanks to Language Log for the pointer. Earlier this year, Language Log put up an even funnier instance of the same phenomenon.

Freddy Hill:
Fortunately the set of lorry drivers in Britain that understand written Welsh but not English is probably identical to the null set.
10.31.2008 8:57pm
Cornellian (mail):
If you're a translator in the business of translating from language A to language B, it seems a bit silly to write your auto-reply message in language B, knowing that the people coming to you for help are coming precisely because they can't speak (or read) language B.
10.31.2008 8:58pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Supposing hypothetically that there are drivers able to read Welsh but not English, if such a driver were to ignore the restriction imposed by the sign, would he or she be subject to prosecution, on the principle that "ignorance of the law is no excuse"?
10.31.2008 10:07pm
gerbilsbite:
As a general rule, this quality of this site seems to increase in direct proportion to the frequency of posts by Eugene. Worth considering.
10.31.2008 10:37pm
Richard A. (mail):
Good thing they didn't try to translate the town name of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
10.31.2008 11:27pm
Bill N:
The "See Also" Column to the right has some howlers, too:


The "cyclists dismount" sign between Penarth and Cardiff became "llid y bledren dymchwelyd" in Welsh - literally "bladder inflammation upset" (or tip or overturn).
10.31.2008 11:36pm
Hoosier:
Richard A.
"Good thing they didn't try to translate the town name of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch."

Or to fit it on a sign.

(New rule: From now on, no town names so long that, when written out, they cannot fit into the host country. Did you HEAR that, Thailand?)
11.1.2008 1:05am
PersonFromPorlock:
Richard A.:

Good thing they didn't try to translate the town name of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Living Welsh is the best revenge.
11.1.2008 8:20am
vladimir (mail):
Some other examples of this phenomenon can be found at the site "Cake Wrecks" (my vote for funniest blog on the net).

Computer Error on Cake
11.1.2008 8:22am
roadkill (mail):
As a general rule, this quality of this site seems to increase in direct proportion to the frequency of posts by Eugene. Worth considering.

...and in inverse proportion to the frequency of posts by Bernstein.
11.1.2008 4:27pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):


As a general rule, this quality of this site seems to increase in direct proportion to the frequency of posts by Eugene. Worth considering.

...and in inverse proportion to the frequency of posts by Bernstein.


I disagree with David Bernstein on many issues, but I hardly think that this is fair. If you don't like his posts or the comments on them, just don't read them.
11.1.2008 6:19pm
sassr:
Pictures or it didn't happen.
11.1.2008 11:21pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
sassr: Did you happen to follow the link to the BBC story? Or does the "it" refer to something else?
11.2.2008 12:08am
Hoosier:
vladimir--You just caused me to waste almost an hour on Cake Wrecks. SHAME ON YOU. And thanks! (I never claimed to be consistent.)

The cake-that-looks-like-the-bride was truly horrifying.
11.2.2008 7:41am
Hoosier:
sassr:
"Pictures or it didn't happen."

That's how I feel about the Battle of Hastings, to be quite frank.
11.2.2008 7:41am
nyu law libertarian (www):
Too bad Esperanto never took off.
11.2.2008 11:31am