If you’re in search of entertainment, there’s no better place to head to than Wales. Obviously, the country is home to stunning countryside, historic castles and beautiful beaches, but it’s also possible to literally follow the entertainment as you make your way along its roads.

At least, that’s what a road sign erected in the Vale of Glamorgan suggests as a result of a poor translation. The BBC reports that Network Rail had the signs made to advise drivers to follow a different route. However, rather than directing people to take the diversion, the translation tells them to “follow the entertainment”.

Not only does the translation feature the Welsh word for pastime ‘adloniant’, but it also uses ‘acses’ as the translation for access. However, acses is actually a completely fictional word.

Confusing road signs

This is not the first time Welsh road signs have caused confusion due to poor translations. In May last year, a Tesco in Swansea drew criticism for its sign that directed English-speaking drivers to one exit and Welsh drivers to another. In October 2008, meanwhile, a dual-language sign supposed to say “No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only” actually read: “Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith i’w gyfieithu.”

Now, if you can read Welsh you’ll know that this says nothing about heavy goods vehicles. In fact, it reads: “I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated.” The error occurred when Swansea council contacted its usual translation service provider to ask them to translate the phrase. Upon receiving an emailed reply, the local authority assumed this was the translation – failing to realise it was actually an automated out-of-office response.

In August 2006, cyclists also got to experience the confusion of Welsh mistranslations. Anyone cycling between Penarth and Cardiff might have been alarmed at a sign reading “bladder inflammation upset”. Like the English at the top of the sign, it was meant to read “cyclists dismount” in Welsh, but the resulting translation didn’t even come close.

While we can all have a chuckle at these examples, translations on signage are among the most important to get right. Failure to do this could result in people being put at risk. For instance, if one of these signs had been meant to prevent drivers following a road that was closed due to hazards, they may have been put in danger if they continued on the same path as a result of being unable to understand the message they were reading.

Mind the translation gap

This summer, as London prepared to host the Olympics, First Capital Connect sent new posters to 13 of its stations. They were designed to warn people not to leave their belongings unattended and were available in seven different languages. However, it soon became apparent that the Arabic translation didn’t say this at all. In fact, it didn’t say much of anything – it was complete gibberish.

In addition to putting people at risk, mistranslations can also be offensive to those reading them. It suggests the person responsible for the sign could not be bothered to double check it and ensure it reads correctly.

You will have no such worries when you come to Language Insight. All our translations are produced by someone working into their mother tongue and they all go through a vigorous quality assurance process.

As a result, you can be sure that the translation you receive from us says exactly what it should say.