There seems to have been a rise of late in Welsh translations of signage that, shall we say, are not quite up to standard – especially since the introduction of online robot translators such as Google and Bing Translate. It seems that more and more people and companies are turning to the simplicity and speed of online translation rather than say, asking a Welsh-speaking human to help them out.
Since completing my degree in Welsh it feels like, instead of simply reading any Welsh I see around the country, I scutinise and critise imperfections.
Books have been published and various social media platforms have had a field day picking out mis-mutations and incorrect wording.
I’m sure many are aware of the sign provided for visitors of comedian Tudur Owen’s restaurant, Tŷ Golchi. I couldn’t help but laugh:
Of course we should strive to be correct and it’s all well and good that we can firstly notice mistakes and secondly share them to, with a bit of luck, ensure that they don’t happen in future.
Recently I published a poll via my Twitter account (@SteCymru14) asking the following question:
“Ydy o’n well cael arwyddion Cymraeg efo camgymeriadau neu beidio â chael unrhyw gyfieithiad?”
“Is it better to have Welsh-language signage with mistakes or have no Welsh on them at all?”
Despite only six responses, the outcome was 50% each. An interesting outcome considering the vast array of ‘attacks’ on any mistakes.
It got me thinking. Is it possible, despite striving to ensure the best quality of language on all signage, that any detriment towards attempts at including Welsh (especially amongst private companies) put others off providing our language with further opportunities to be seen across the nation in the future?
If you are a Welsh-speaking social media-user it’s highly likely that you’ve come across the aformentioned account @Sgymraeg. Posting regular occasions that the Welsh language is used (often amusingly) incorrectly, the account has been very popular with speakers of our old language.
To encourage students to think about the Welsh they see and use, I have posted a couple of questionable Welsh translations to my school Twitter account. On one particular occasion, a student of mine had noticed a mistake I’d posted and had replied to my tweet. I was not only proud that the students had correctly spotted the mistake but had also attempted to explain what was wrong using the Welsh he knew. I wasn’t bothered that the student’s Cymraeg wasn’t quite correct…. but @Sgymraeg was. It took me a while to calm down after said account decided it appropriate to retweet the student’s response – showing off his particular linguistic shortcomings.
The student in question has never responded to any of my tweets since.
As I’ve said, of course it’s fine for us to expect correct translations on signage etc but I can’t help but sympathise with those who, despite not providing linguistic perfection, have the guts to even consider ensuring Welsh is provided.
Since moderating the Welsh course on Duolingo which, is most definitely highly based on Southern Welsh (with other dialects simple ‘acceptable’ as responses), I have learnt to accept that any Welsh is good for our language – no matter the dialect or standard.
As the Irish put it: Gaeilge más féidir, Béarla más gá – Irish if possible, English if necessary.
Gwell Cymraeg slac na Saesneg slic.
Worth thinking about, I reckon.