Stupid Translation Watch: Welsh Sign Carries E-mail Auto-Reply

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

When a government employee in Wales sent an e-mail to a translator with the English-wording of a sign to be translated into Welsh—signs there are bilingual—an unexpected reply arrived that had nothing to do with the original message.

Trouble was, the reply came back in Welsh. The government employee apparently assumed the reply was the translation and had it printed on the sign.

The message to be translated: “No entry for heavy goods vehicles.”

The response that ended up on the Welsh portion of the sign: “I am out of the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated.”

The government employee requesting the translation received the translator’s out-of-office e-mail auto-reply and had it printed on the sign verbatim.

While it’s certainly tempting to blame the government sign maker for this snafu, I blame the Welsh translator.

After all, if the sign maker could understand the auto-reply, he would have no need for a translator, would he.

Or she. Save the letters.

This story originally appeared in the U.K.’s Guardian.

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