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Lost In Translation
...amusingly-translated Welsh signs

Wales is a bi-lingual country; road signs appear in Welsh and English. The translations usually make sense but anything involving the council can go wrong. Here are some signs that absurdly went wrong...

1: Cyclists get inflamed bladders

Mistranslation photo 1Welsh-speaking cyclists were told that they had problems with an 'inflamed bladder' by a temporary bilingual road sign between Cardiff and Penarth. Instead of the Welsh translation telling cyclists to dismount it actually read "bladder disease has returned".

The problem here seems to be that there is no Welsh word for 'dismount'. Perhaps a better translation might have been 'Dim beicio' which simply means 'No cycling'. 'Llid y bledren' means inflammation of the bladder, and 'dymchwelyd' means 'return'.


2: It's a one-way street

Mistranslation photo 5English pedestrians in Cardiff were told to "Look Right" but Welsh pedestrians were told to "Look Left".




3: Sheer madness!

Mistranslation photo 3This RSPB temporary sign to an event about shearwater birds, unfortunately translates into Welsh as 'Cneifio Gwallof' - "Mad Sheep Shearing".




4: The lights are on, but there's no-one in

Mistranslation photo 2This sign in Swansea told Welsh-speaking lorry drivers that "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated".

An e-mail sent by the Council to its translations department asking for "No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only" to be translated into Welsh triggered the automated email response "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated". Unfortunately, the English-speaking official thought the automated e-mail was the actual translation, so went ahead and had it printed on the road sign (now replaced).

5: Ghost image

Wine and ghosts?This Welsh translation became "Wines and Ghosts".




6: What bridge?

Mistranslation photo 4This road sign with a small typo appeared on a lane between Ammanford and Pontadawe in South Wales. Instead of saying "Hidden Dip" the Welsh translation reads "Hidden Bridge". It should have read "Pant Cudd" not "Pont Cudd" - 'pont' being 'bridge' and 'pant' being 'hollow'. 'Cudd' is 'hidden'.



7: No snooping now!

Shops signThis "Business open as usual" sign became "Snooping closed as usual" when translated into Welsh - which I suppose is good news!




8: Warning: blasted workers

warning signThis temporary sign read "Rhybudd: Gweithwyr yn ffrwydro" in Welsh but actually translates as "Warning: Workers are exploding" not the intended "Warning: Blasting in progress".

At least they got "Rhybudd" translated as "Warning" correct.


9: Ban sports coaches

wrong coaches signSometimes they nearly get it right. In Newport a "No access to coaches" sign was translated as "Dim mynediad ar gyfer Hyfforddwyr", which would be correct if it were not for the fact that they used the word 'coaches' in the sporting context rather than referring to vehicles.


Note: the examples above tend to start in English with the Welsh translation second. Most road signs are now in Welsh first and English second.

Also Read...

A sideways glance at Welsh signs that have lost their meaning in translation


Hand-free Welsh:
Welsh Language Course
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Welsh For Beginners
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from Waterstones UK

Modern Welsh Dictionary
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Understanding Welsh Place Names: What They Mean and How to Say Them
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from Waterstones UK

Welsh Place-names
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Rough Guide To Wales
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Lonely Planet: Wales
from Lonely Planet
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The Story of Wales DVD
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The Welsh Cake Bookbook
(Flavours of Wales)
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More Books at Amazon UK

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