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Never proof what you don't understand - Welsh road sign points the way

My favourite story of the week (so far) and a blissful relief from New Zealand and US election news comes from Wales. It highlights proof-reading perils for anyone involved with printing of any kind. It is the tale of a road sign, a translation and how both were doomed by someone's automatic email responder.

The story - here in full at the BBC - tells how officials asked for a Welsh translation of a road sign (as signage is produced in both English and Welsh) and as soon as the email response was received, off they went to press.  The only problem was that the email didn't contain the requested translation of "No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only". Instead it read in Welsh: "I am out of the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated".  Which is exactly what was printed on the road sign, much to the amusement and confusion of Welsh-speaking motorists and pedestrians.

It made me laugh and reminded me of my own mad chase many years ago to recover a French translation of the English media material set for release at a Geneva Motor Show.  Caught it by the skin of my teeth only because my 'schoolgirl' French, limited though it was, enabled me to spot what would have been the sort of error that would have caused those involved to blush furiously for many years after.

The golden rule? Never try and proof read anything that comes in a language you cannot understand. Obvious I know, but you would be surprised at the number of people who will sign off on things they don't understand (and that is just the ones I have met).