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Etc.

November 5, 2008



So, you think that's funny, eh?

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One day soon, a highway department truck will stop at the corner of Clase and Pant-y-Blawd roads in a neighborhood of Swansea, Wales, and a crew will climb out and put up a new sign. The sign will advise motorists in both English and Welsh that they're entering a residential zone where vehicles carrying heavy loads are not permitted.

So what?

Oh, nothing, perhaps, except that it will replace one that was supposed to carry the same message but instead has turned the city into a laughingstock.

"We took it down as soon as we were made aware of it," a City Council spokeswoman conceded to reporters.

That's because Welsh people are fiercely proud of their language even though a dwindling number of them speak it anymore. Indeed, the law mandates that road signs still be bilingual. Often, this requires submitting the English text to a translation service for the correct wording in Welsh. This time, however, no one was on duty when an e-mail with the request arrived, prompting one of those automated replies.

So guess what? Right, the automated reply is what ended up on the original sign at Clase and Pant-y-Blawd. Below the "no heavy loads" warning, folks who speak Welsh were astonished to read: "I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated."

So amused at the incident is one Swansea resident that he wants to buy the old sign and use it as a wall decoration. He's offering $80. At last report, the City Council spokeswoman had not commented on whether it's for sale.

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