English: Pedestrians look left, Welsh: Pedestrians look right – This is not just a mistranslation. There is no way that a translation like this could have been made, except if it was an oral instruction by a leftie, or someone who is dyslexic.
Welsh is a language all its own; it has its roots in the Saxon languages which were in use in pre-historic times. The language is famous for long place names, as well as for the use (or non-use) of vowels. However, what Welsh is, is a lovely lyrical language that does not make mistakes about right and left, especially if it was written, and checked prior to printing.
There is a lot of leeway given to interpreters, which translators do not have. For one, interpreters have to come up with the exact translation as well as the cultural tone and inflection. This is very important for official cultural, political and international conventions, summits or meetings. Even with the prevalence of English as the rising de facto language – or at least it seems to be, based on the amount of usage on the Internet – multi-language conferences still rely on interpreters in order to ensure that there are no misinterpretations.
On the other hand, translators are not allowed to make this kind of mistake. For one, they have the time to check their translations. For another, when in doubt they can ask their colleagues to check their work. Language and dialogue are based on logic, and it is easy to see when something is illogical.
Reminding the Welsh to look right, and other people to look left is absurd. This is a street sign in the Wales, in the United Kingdom. People who live in the United Kingdom drive on the left. When a person crosses the street he looks right first, before looking left. The visual clue of a battered sign implies that it is well used. On the other hand, it may also show that the sign has been battered because of all the people who have kicked the sign for the wrong warning.
Image credit – Mistranslations via Pinterest