On June 2 2022, an Imgur account shared a screenshot of a Facebook post which purportedly showed a Welsh road sign with an amusing translation:
The screenshot was undated; a status update above a photograph of a street sign in English and Welsh read:
This has got to be one of the best. In Wales, UK, there is a legal requirement for road signs to be in both English and Welsh. So, in this case, the official of the Highways department emailed the English wording to the translator and, after receiving a reply, proceeded to have the sign made and installed. Unfortunately, a few weeks later, Welsh-speaking drivers began to call up to point out that the Welsh reads … “I am currently out of the office. Please submit any work to the translation team.”
Underneath the English portion of the sign, text in Welsh read:
Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o byrd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith i’w gyfieithu.
Google Translate provided the following English translation of the text in Welsh:
I’m not in the office right now. Send any work for translation.
A teverse image search showed that the image — if it was accurately described — was not new. The oldest crawled iterations were dead links from June 2009, and sorting by “newest” indicated that the image was doing the rounds on Tumblr in May 2022 (involving a post from June 2021).
It included the image and read:
Welsh is an official language of Wales. This means, legally, it cannot be treated less favourably than English in any part of daily life. So we have bilingual signs and sometimes the translations are… well just awful.
This is a classic and made the news.
On Tumblr, the original poster said that the Welsh road sign in question had “made the news.” In October 2008, the BBC verified that the image was accurate:
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. 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 … Swansea council got lost in translation when it was looking to halt heavy goods vehicles using a road near an Asda store in the Morriston area.
All official road signs in Wales are bilingual, so the local authority e-mailed its in-house translation service for the Welsh version of: “No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only”.
The reply duly came back and officials set the wheels in motion to create the large sign in both languages.
The notice went up and all seemed well – until Welsh speakers began pointing out the embarrassing error.
At the end of the article, an official was quoted as saying the sign was removed:
We took it down as soon as we were made aware of it and a correct sign will be re-instated as soon as possible.
A June 2 2022 Imgur post suggested that a Welsh road sign showed an automatic out of office email reply, due to a clerical error. That image circulated on social media for more than a decade, but the BBC reported the error as news in October 2008.