Tue 18 Nov 2008
In Point Reyes Station, which President-elect Barack Obama carried with 86.1 percent of the vote, brown hills quickly turned to green after the election.
It’s time for another installment in this blog’s occasional series Quotes Worth Saving, which, in fact, is the label on the file in which I save them. Here are a few gleaned from the press during the past three years.
SWANSEA WALES — When officials [via email] asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign [“No entry for heavy-goods vehicles. Residential site only.”], they thought the reply was what they needed.
Unfortunately, the email response [Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith I’w gyfieithu.] to Swansea council said in Welsh, “I am not in the office at the moment. Please 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. “When they’re proofing signs, they should really use someone who speaks Welsh,” said journalist Dylan Iorwerth. — BBC, Oct. 31, 2008
All official roadsigns in Wales must be bilingual, and this is hardly the first time confusion has occurred in translations:
VALE OF GLAMORGAN, WALES — Cyclists were left confused by a bilingual roadsign telling them they had problems with an inflamed bladder. The “Cyclists Dismount” sign between Penarth and Cardiff became “lld y bledren dymchwelyd” in Welsh — literally “Bladder Inflammation Upset….” The Vale of Glamorgan Council said new signs were being made. It is possible that an online translation led to confusion between cyclists and cystitis. — BBC, Aug. 15, 2006
And there are times when despite everything being clearly written, the reader is left wondering, “What the heck was really going on?”
FRESNO — Fresno County authorities have arrested a man they say broke into the home of two farmworkers, rubbed one with spices, and whacked the other with a sausage before fleeing…. The suspect, 22-year-old Antonio Vasquez of Fresno, was found hiding in a nearby field wearing only a T-shirt, boxer shorts, and socks.
The victims told deputies they awoke Saturday morning to the stranger applying spices to one of them and striking the other with an 8-inch sausage…. Money allegedly stolen in the burglary was recovered. The sausage was tossed away by the fleeing suspect and eaten by a dog.” — Associated Press, Sept. 8, 2008
She’s no paparazzi, but San Francisco Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik features a “Public Eavesdropping” item in each column. Six weeks after Italy’s most-beloved opera singer died last year, Garchik quoted a tourist in Paris remarking, “I never understood why Pavarotti was chasing Princess Diana.” — San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 19, 2007