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Would we have greater attention to detail and less fecklessness if we all spoke Irish?

Cellachán Chaisil

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Ok, this post is slightly tongue in cheek (says he with the genuine fear that any mistakes that he makes over the course of the post will be seized upon mercilessly).

The trope of the feckless devil-may-care Irishman is (probably unsurprisingly) common in literature. I'm reminded for instance of the builder in Fawlty Towers who near fulfills the name by (ironically) neglecting to use an Irish Jay [recte: RSJ] for a load-bearing wall. Such a trope was used during the Saipan fiasco in 2002, when one commentator alluded to the very same stereotype as a reason for the Irish putting up with such substandard conditions in the run up to the World Cup in Japan.

There may indeed be some truth in the stereotype. Memewise, the phrase "Feck it sure it's grand" seems to enjoy popularity as the Irish version of the British wartime slogan of "Keep calm and carry on".



Not merely that, but we seem to have a distinct last of foresight when it comes to infrastructure. Houses on floodplains. Transport systems without interchange. Removing tramlines and reinstalling them forty years later. All of which show signs of a certain degree of fecklessness in the Irish psyche.

This attitude certainly seems to prevail when it comes to erecting signage in Irish. The history of Irish-language signage has been and is still dogged by glorious misspellings at the best of times. I live near to the Malahide Road, Bóthar Mhullach Íde officially, but is proudly displayed as Bóthar Malahíde on one sign in the neighbourhood. Feck it sure it's grand, who'd notice? Various signs have different translations. Sallynoggin has be described as Sáile an Chnocáin or An Naigín, depending on where you look. Sure that's fine, no bother. Ascaill (the Irish for avenue and armpit) can be rendered Ascal, Ascail and Ascall depending on the sign. Not to worry, they'll get what is meant. Of course, worse still are the translations emanating from Google Translate. Take the airport, for instance:



Ignoring the fact the sentence syntax is completely wrong, the engine confuses patient (to be able to wait for long periods without grumbling) with the sort of patient you'd find in a hospital. DCU had a similar issue lately with a parking sign that was erected on their campus. Ah sure not to worry. These examples are almost innumerable. Indeed, it is often said, without exaggeration, that a sign without a mistake is rarer than one with one.





Of course the responses to complaints about such signs generally fall into one of a number of categories. "Ah sure at least their making an effort", "you're intimidating learners by being so critical", "you should be happy enough there even willing to put signs up in Irish", 'what difference does it make?", "this is what puts people off the language" and that's before we get into complainants, whose only pursuit is accuracy and care, being dismissed as Grammar Nazis or members of the Galiban. Such an argument doesn't seem to differentiate between a sign-writer whose only job it is to accurately inscribe the message his contractor wishes to communicate and someone starting in a language who may be overly self-conscious about making mistakes.

Personally, I see signage as a source of prestige and status for any language, not ignoring the fact they have a primary function. But, I think it needs to be stated that accuracy is particularly important in Irish, both semantically and historically.

If you read 16th century literature in Irish, you well see many examples of scribes apologising to readers for the standard of grammar in their prose. Indeed, perfect grammar was a sign that you were a trained poet and was one of the shibboleths they used to ring-fence their position in society. We have rather comprehensive grammatical texts going back to the 8th century in Irish. Comprehensive grammars from the 14th and 15th centuries seem to have been on the curriculum in numerous bardic schools throughout the country, training in which was expected to take up to seven years. (Two of which have been edited and annotated in detail in Bardic Syntactical Tracts by Lambert McKenna and The Art of Bardic Poetry by Eoin Mac Cárthaigh).

But this pursuit of accuracy is probably part of the nature of the language itself. This is especially visible in the proliferation of initial mutation in the language. Úruithe versus séimhithe. A single mutation in Irish can have a remarkable impact on the meaning of a sentence (think "eats, shoots leaves" on steroids).

Some rather common examples:

a cuid her portiona gcuid their portion
ar bordon boardar bhordon a table
a dhá aiste his two essays a dhá haiste her two essays
páiste na comharsanthe neighbour's childpáiste na gcomharsanthe neighbours' child
cos mhaidewooden legcos maidethe bottom of a stick

Not only that, but some of the grammatical rules the language has accrued are quite arcane, exceptions to the exceptions of exceptions. Take for example:

All simple prepositions take the dative. Some, such as Chun, timpeall, trasna, dála, however take the genitive. That said, chun does not take the genitive if the word following in is the subject of an infinitive phrase. So. Ar an teach. But chun an tí, yet chun an teach a ghlanadh.
Nouns following verbal nouns are put in the genitive - ag iarraidh dinnéir 'wanting dinner'. However, this is not the case if they are qualified by an adjective - ag iarraidh dinnéar blasta. That said, if the word dinnéar refers to a specific dinnéar (i.e. a definite noun), it is inflected. Ag iarraidh an dinnéir bhlasta/ ag iarraidh dinnéir bhlasta Mháire. But, if the noun, definite or indefinite, is the subject of an infinitive phrase, once again, it is not inflected - ag iarraidh dinnéar blasta Mháire a ithe.
Lost yet?

Again this is not to intimidate learners, but it is a reminder that significant attention to detail is required to communicate in Irish succinctly and effectively. Some might see this as a disadvantage to a learner or even a speaker. But to put another spin on it, could we suggest that successful acquisition of Irish might lead to better attention to detail in general among its learners? :) If only, we had Luas tras-cathrach from the start, it may have been completed in 2004. Remember that if you should happen upon this beauty during luasworks :) :

 
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Cellachán Chaisil

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Irish Jay



RSJ
See, I knew there'd be something that would undermine everything.

Seems to be a common eggcorn though, so I'll give myself a break on this.
 

petaljam

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See, I knew there'd be something that would undermine everything.

Seems to be a common eggcorn though, so I'll give myself a break on this.
Maybe you proved your point though, if you'd been writing in Irish possibly that couldn't have happened ! ;)

(I'm interested in the idea, and I'd compare Irish to German with its complex grammar and multiple declensions etc - could we have been known for the Western Europe equivalent of Vorsprung Durch Technik if we hadn't adopted English??

However against that I have to ask why it would only be an issue for the Irish, and why the English don't share the same flaws?)
 

Cellachán Chaisil

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Maybe you proved your point though, if you'd been writing in Irish possibly that couldn't have happened ! ;)

(I'm interested in the idea, and I'd compare Irish to German with its complex grammar and multiple declensions etc - could we have been known for the Western Europe equivalent of Vorsprung Durch Technik if we hadn't adopted English??

However against that I have to ask why it would only be an issue for the Irish, and why the English don't share the same flaws?)
Yes, sure phonetically, they can't even distinguish between RSJ and Irish Jay. Monsters. As against that, they can distinguish between book and buck, which is quite impressive.
 

stringjack

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Again this is not to intimidate learners, but it is a reminder that significant attention to detail is required to communicate in Irish succinctly and effectively. Some might see this as a disadvantage to a learner of even a speaker. But to put another spin on it, could we suggest that successful acquisition of Irish might lead to better attention to detail in general among its learners?
It doesn't seem to be the case that Irish is special in this regard - similar precision is present in English (and is also often used as a status indicator in that context). And, in the case of English, the causality seems to run in the other direction. People who care about precision in general also care about precision in language. That said, bilingualism might help, inasmuch as it leads to one being more conscious of precisely what one is saying.
 

Cellachán Chaisil

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It doesn't seem to be the case that Irish is special in this regard - similar precision is present in English (and is also often used as a status indicator in that context). And, in the case of English, the causality seems to run in the other direction. People who care about precision in general also care about precision in language. That said, bilingualism might help, inasmuch as it leads to one being more conscious of precisely what one is saying.
It's certainly not special when it comes to the fact that precision is important, it is more the degree of precision being necessary for effective communication that I'm referring to. I'm not sure English has much in the way of the level of complexity I described above. However, given I learned Irish yet grew up with English I'm probably more familiar with the grammatical complexity of the former.
 

petaljam

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It doesn't seem to be the case that Irish is special in this regard - similar precision is present in English (and is also often used as a status indicator in that context). And, in the case of English, the causality seems to run in the other direction. People who care about precision in general also care about precision in language. That said, bilingualism might help, inasmuch as it leads to one being more conscious of precisely what one is saying.
I think there is a difference in learning languages like Irish, German and Latin which require a significant degree of grammatical learning before one is able to make even the shortest complete sentence and one like English which is fairly easy for beginners but gets infinitely more complex as one progresses. I think the former start off hard and get easier, unlike the latter (French is sort of intermediate, but closer to English in terms of this pattern I'm describing).

(I'm not sure that leads to more careful workers at the end though - but the idea is similar to comparisons that have interested me for a while!)
 

Volatire

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What's the Gaelic for horseshít?
 

Cellachán Chaisil

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What's the Gaelic for horseshít?
Of course you'd say that. If you valued attention to detail, you wouldn't have spelled your username "volatire"!
 

petaljam

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Of course you'd say that. If you valued attention to detail, you wouldn't have spelled your username "volatire"!
(Pedantry - or attention to detail! ;) - obliges me to point out that Voltaire was in fact an anagram, though not of Volatire.
It was Arouet Le Jeune = AROUVET LI in Roman letters, hence Voltaire) :)
 

Cellachán Chaisil

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(Pedantry - or attention to detail! ;) - obliges me to point out that Voltaire was in fact an anagram, though not of Volatire.
It was Arouet Le Jeune = AROUVET LI in Roman letters, hence Voltaire) :)
Should that be Arovet Li?

But much appreciated, nonetheless.
 

Cellachán Chaisil

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Cellachán Chaisil

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Speaking of the the complexities of modern Irish, it pales in comparison with that of Old Irish. There is a phrase in the philological community that goes "Learning Old Irish is like cutting the grass" i.e. it's something you have to redo every week.
 

Iusedmename

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I think there is a difference in learning languages like Irish, German and Latin which require a significant degree of grammatical learning before one is able to make even the shortest complete sentence and one like English which is fairly easy for beginners but gets infinitely more complex as one progresses. I think the former start off hard and get easier, unlike the latter (French is sort of intermediate, but closer to English in terms of this pattern I'm describing).

(I'm not sure that leads to more careful workers at the end though - but the idea is similar to comparisons that have interested me for a while!)
I've had the opposite experience. I frequently encounter English learners whose languages' grammars depend heavily on morphology (like Irish, German, Latin) and who really struggle with the English language's dependance on word order.
 
O

Oscurito

We need some sort of authority that would act as the final judge on how signs should be translated. The simplicity of English blinds people to the greater precision of Irish grammar. The vast majority of English speakers haven't a clue about genitives, vocatives, autonomous tenses etc.

It's not just an Irish thing. I can think of at least one hilarious example from Wales.

Meanwhile, those who Google-translate 'no' as 'uimhir' should be forced to drink an 'uimhir' of buckets of Gaeltacht seawater so that they may be taught a lesson.
 

petaljam

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I've had the opposite experience. I frequently encounter English learners whose languages' grammars depend heavily on morphology (like Irish, German, Latin) and who really struggle with the English language's dependance on word order.
Word order is exactly the sort of thing that I meant became more and more of a problem in English as one progresses begins to complexify sentences. So where it's difficult in Irish to say "I gave him the big blue books" (what's the dative plural of leabhar and what do I do with the adjectives, and then is it dó or aige or could it be leo? there are far fewer possibilities in English. But once you get those basics right in Irish then there aren't as many problems that leap up and catch you later on, like turn back or turn out or turn over (or overturn, and outback) etc.
 

sondagefaux

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Houses on floodplains. Transport systems without interchange. Removing tramlines and reinstalling them forty years later. All of which show signs of a certain degree of fecklessness in the Irish psyche.
It's now official policy in the UK (or at least in England) to build on floodplains.

Homes and businesses should continue to be built on flood plains across the UK despite the increasing risks, according to government advisers on climate change.

Lord Krebs, the government’s statutory adviser on adapting to the effects of global warming, told an influential committee of MPs on Wednesday that although recent flooding has caused houses and other buildings to be inundated, property could continue to be constructed on flood plains. He said that the attendant risks and the possible devastation would have to be made clear to households, local government and developers.

The wettest ever December in the UK at the end of last year saw 16,000 properties hit by flooding, while more than 75,000 lost electricity and most northern and western parts of the UK registered more than double the average rainfall. Some uplands registered three times their average.

The committee on climate change was set up under the Climate Change Act to advise governments on meeting targets on greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of global warming.

Flood plains are often more attractive to developers because they tend to be flat and therefore easy to build on and close to other amenities such as transport and utilities networks. The UK is facing an acute housing crisis with hundreds of thousands of new dwellings needed each year to keep pace with the nation’s housing needs.

But while previous reports by the committee have warned of the dangers of building on flood plains, Krebs said that it should be possible to do so as long as property owners were made aware of the risks.

It is not known the effect such a policy would have on insurance, as most of the UK’s properties are supposed to be automatically protected from flood risk under a system known as Flood Re, an arrangement between the government and the insurance industry. This replaced a previous and unwritten agreement whereby all homes were guaranteed flood insurance by the industry.
Build on flood plains despite the risks, say UK government advisers | Environment | The Guardian

Building on flood-plains isn't a recent development.

Planning applications on flood plains in Britain have been going up every year for the last five years. Over five million people are now living or working in flood risk areas in England and Wales.

Local authorities are under pressure to find sites for housing. In Selby in Yorkshire, the housing target is 3000 new homes.

But the floods last November illustrate the difficulties that local authorities face. The River Ouse broke its banks and flooded Barlby near Selby in Yorkshire.

There are two housing estates side by side at Barlby near Selby in Yorkshire. More than 100 homes on the Wainhomes estate were flooded last November.

But only three homes were affected on the Haslam estate. The planners had insisted that floor levels on the Haslam estate should be raised. Wainhomes was not asked to raise its floor levels.

When Wainhomes applied for planning permission for this estate the advice about flood risks came from the forerunner of the Environment Agency, the National Rivers Authority. The advice went to Selby District Council.

Richard Borrows from the Council says, "They (the NRA) didn't recommend refusal which they could have done if they felt there was an overriding flood risk which we shouldn't discount."

The NRA say that they advised that careful consideration should be given to the raising of floor levels on the estate. The Council say they passed the advice to Wainhomes.

Wainhomes turned down Panorama's invitation for an interview but in a statement said that the NRA's advice referred to "adequate facilities for the drainage of surface water" - which they installed - and "not... as a defence against flood water".
BBC News | PANORAMA | Building on flood plains

Panorama is a BBC current affairs programme. The investigative programme, and the statistic of five million people living in flood-risk areas in England and Wales, dates from 2001. The population of England and Wales in 2001 was just over 52 million people - 5 million people lived in flood-risk areas in 2001, almost 10% of the total population.

In Deep Water
Sunday 18 March 2001

Reporter David Lomax
Producer Ken Kirby
Assistant Producer Esella Hawkey
BBC NEWS | Programmes | Panorama | Archive | In deep water
Unfortunately, Ireland followed the UK in ripping up trams and replacing some of them decades later.

Between 1901 and 1949 Manchester Corporation Tramways was the municipal operator of electric tram services in Manchester, England (known as Manchester Corporation Transport Department from 1929 onwards[1]) At its peak in 1928 the organisation carried 328 million passengers, on 953 trams, via 46 routes, along 292 miles (470 km) of track.[2]

It was the United Kingdom's second largest tram network after the services of 16 operators across the capital were combined in 1933 by the London Passenger Transport Board. Other large systems were in Glasgow (which had 100 miles of double track at its peak[3] and Birmingham (80 miles).

The central and south central Manchester area had one of the densest concentrations of tram services of any urban area in the UK.[4] MCT services ran up to the edge of routes provided by other operators in (what is now) Greater Manchester, and in some instances had running rights over their lines and vice versa. There were extensive neighbouring systems in Salford, Oldham, Ashton & Hyde, Middleton, Rochdale and elsewhere.

Services were withdrawn earlier than most other British cities to be replaced by trolleybus and motor buses. Trams did not return to the city until the modern light-rail system Manchester Metrolink opened in 1992.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchester_Corporation_Tramways

Every city in the UK with a historic tram system had them ripped up - only a small number have replaced them with light-rail systems.

This happened in the USA too, bar a handful of cities:

The General Motors streetcar conspiracy refers to convictions of General Motors (GM) and other companies for monopolizing the sale of buses and supplies to National City Lines and its subsidiaries, and to allegations that this was part of a deliberate plot to purchase and dismantle streetcar systems in many cities in the United States as an attempt to monopolize surface transportation, and to urban legends and other folklore inspired by these events.

Between 1938 and 1950, National City Lines and its subsidiaries, American City Lines and Pacific City Lines—with investment from GM, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California through a subsidiary, Federal Engineering, Phillips Petroleum, and Mack Trucks—gained control of additional transit systems in about 25 cities.[3] Systems included St. Louis, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Oakland. NCL often converted streetcars to bus operations in that period, although electric traction was preserved or expanded in some locations. Other systems, such as San Diego's, were converted by outgrowths of the City Lines. Most companies involved were convicted in 1949 of conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce in the sale of buses, fuel, and supplies to NCL subsidiaries, but were acquitted of conspiring to monopolize the transit industry.

The story as an urban legend has been studied extensively by Martha Bianco, Scott Bottles, Sy Adler, Robert Post, and Jonathan Richmond. It has been explored several times in print, film and other media, notably in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Taken for a Ride, and The End of Suburbia.

Only a handful of U.S. cities have surviving effective rail-based urban transport systems based on streetcars, including Newark, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and Boston; others are re-introducing them. In many of these cases, the "streetcars" do not actually ride on the street. Boston had all of its downtown lines elevated, or buried, by the mid-1920s, and most of the surviving lines at grade operate on their own right of way. San Francisco and Newark similarly use tunnels.

Background[edit]
In the latter half of the 19th century, transit systems were generally rail, first horse-drawn streetcars, and later electric powered streetcars and cable cars. Rail was more comfortable and had less rolling resistance than street traffic on granite block or macadam and horse-drawn streetcars were, in most places, a step up from horsebus: faster, more sanitary, and cheaper to run; electric traction was much more so, with the cost, excreta, epizootic risk, and carcass disposal of horses eliminated entirely. Obsolete streetcars were later seen as obstructions to traffic, but for nearly 20 years they had the highest power-to-weight ratio of anything commonly found on the road, and the lowest rolling resistance.

Streetcars paid ordinary business and property taxes, but also generally paid franchise fees, maintained at least the shared right of way, and provided street sweeping and snow clearance. They were also required to maintain minimal service levels. Many franchise fees were fixed, or were based on the gross, not the net; such arrangements, when combined with fixed fares, were to create impossible financial pressures later.[4] Early electric cars generally had a two-man crew, a holdover from horsecar days, which created financial problems in later years as salaries outpaced revenues.

Many electric lines, especially in the West, were tied into other real estate or transportation enterprises. The Pacific Electric and the Los Angeles Railway were especially so, in essence loss leaders for property development and long haul shipping.[5]

By 1918, long before the actions of any alleged conspirators, half of US streetcar mileage was in bankruptcy.[6]

Early years[edit]

"The Menace of the Hour": the Populist view of transit (1899).
Conspiracy theorists connect Hertz's New York and Chicago bus enterprises with an alleged larger conspiracy.[citation needed] John D. Hertz, better remembered for his car rental business, was also an early motorbus manufacturer and operator. He founded the Chicago Motor Coach Company in 1917 which operated buses in Chicago[7] and the Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company in 1923, a manufacturer of buses. He then formed The Omnibus Corporation in 1926 with "plans embracing the extension of motor coach operation to urban and rural communities in every part of the United States"[8] that then purchased the Fifth Avenue Coach Company in New York.[9] The same year, the Fifth Avenue Coach Company acquired a majority of the stock in the struggling New York Railways Corporation[10] (which had been bankrupted and reorganized at least twice). In 1927 General Motors acquired a controlling share of the Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company and appointed Hertz as a main board director.[11] Hertz's bus lines, however, were not in direct competition with any streetcars, and his core business was the higher-priced "motor coach".

By 1930 most streetcar systems were aging and losing money. Service to the public was suffering; the Great Depression compounded this. Yellow Coach tried to persuade transit companies to replace streetcars with buses, but could not convince the power companies that owned the streetcar operations to motorize.[12] GM decided to form a new subsidiary—United Cities Motor Transport (UCMT)—to finance the conversion of streetcar systems to buses in small cities. The new subsidiary made investments in small transit systems, in Kalamazoo and Saginaw, Michigan and in Springfield, Ohio where they were successful in conversion to buses.[12] UCMT then approached the Portland, Oregon system with a similar proposal.[citation needed] It was censured by the American Transit Association and dissolved in 1935.[13]

The New York Railways Corporation began conversion to buses in 1935, with the new bus services being operated by the New York City Omnibus Corporation, which shared management with The Omnibus Corporation.[14] During this period GM worked with Public Service Transportation in New Jersey to develop the "All-Service Vehicle", a bus also capable of working as a trackless trolley, allowing off-wire passenger collection in areas too lightly populated to pay for wire infrastructure.[15]

Opposition to the so-called 'traction interests' and their influence on politicians was growing.[dubious – discuss] For example, in 1922, New York Supreme Court Justice John Ford came out in favor of William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper magnate, for mayor of New York, complaining that Al Smith, was too close to the 'traction interests'.[16] In 1925, Hearst complained about Smith in a similar way.[17] In the 1941 film Citizen Kane, the lead character, Kane, who was loosely based on Hearst and Samuel Insull, complains about the influence of the 'traction interests'.[18][19]

The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, which made it illegal for a single private business to both provide public transport and supply electricity to other parties caused great difficulties for the streetcar operators which were frequently also generators of electricity.[disputed – discuss]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_streetcar_conspiracy

Public transport interchanges?

I live in England - the nearest town to me with a train station also has a bus station. They're one mile apart: there's no shuttle bus between them and the nearest bus stop to the station is several hundred metres from the station - no problem if you haven't got any heavy luggage, not so great if you do; the timetables of the buses and trains that leave and depart from the stations aren't aligned in any way so there's no guarantee that if you catch a bus from the bus station to the nearest stop and walk the several hundred metres to the train station that you'll arrive on time to catch your train.

The nearest city does have a shuttle bus from the bus station to the train station but it's run by a different operator to the operators that run the buses that arrive into the bus station. So even if you have a day ticket, weekly ticket, or other period ticket for one of those operators, you still have to pay for an extra ticket to get the shuttle bus. The shuttle bus doesn't operate after 7pm in any case (or on Sundays or Bank Holidays) so if you're arriving or catching a train outside its operating hours, tough luck. You either walk (up a very steep hill) or pay for a taxi - the nearest taxi rank is conveniently located a mere 300 metres from the bus station on a one-way street that goes in the opposite direction to the train station...

There's no such thing as an Oyster card outside of greater London (the Irish equivalent is the Leap card), so if you're using public transport, and the quickest journey involves changing operators (usually from one bus company to another) or modes of travel (e.g. from bus to train), you're going to have to buy multiple tickets, even if you have a period ticket (e.g . weekly, monthly etc) for one operator.

Where I live, a four-weekly bus ticket for the bus company I use most frequently costs £92.00. However, if I want to travel to or from the nearest large conurbation on a Sunday or bank holiday, I have to buy an extra ticket for another bus company (or a train ticket) because the bus company I use doesn't operate any route to or from that conurbation on Sundays or bank holidays.

Then there's this prize-winning piece of idiocy from in the road-sign department.

When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed.

Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: "I am not in the office at the moment. 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.


All official road signs in Wales are bilingual, so the local authority e-mailed its in-house translation service for the Welsh version of: "No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only".

The reply duly came back and officials set the wheels in motion to create the large sign in both languages.

The notice went up and all seemed well - until Welsh speakers began pointing out the embarrassing error.

Welsh-language magazine Golwg was promptly sent photographs of the offending sign by a number of its readers.

Managing editor Mr Iorwerth said: "We've been running a series of these pictures over the past months.

"They're circulating among Welsh speakers because, unfortunately, it's all too common that things are not just badly translated, but are put together by people who have no idea about the language.

"It's good to see people trying to translate, but they should really ask for expert help.

"Everything these days seems to be written first in English and then translated.

...

The blunder is not the only time Welsh has been translated incorrectly or put in the wrong place:

• Cyclists between Cardiff and Penarth in 2006 were left confused by a bilingual road sign telling them they had problems with an "inflamed bladder".

In the same year, a sign for pedestrians in Cardiff reading 'Look Right' in English read 'Look Left' in Welsh.

In 2006, a shared-faith school in Wrexham removed a sign which translated the Welsh for staff as "wooden stave".

• Football fans at a FA Cup tie between Oldham and Chasetown - two English teams - in 2005 were left scratching their heads after a Welsh-language hoarding was put up along the pitch. It should have gone to a match in Merthyr Tydfil.

• People living near an Aberdeenshire building site in 2006 were mystified when a sign apologising for the inconvenience was written in Welsh as well as English.
BBC News - E-mail error ends up on road sign

Welsh also has noun cases, lenition and other linguistic features in common with Irish which non-Welsh speakers can miss easily if they're not very careful about translation.

If you go to Scotland, you'll often see and hear the name Mhairi, sometimes pronounced as Mairi (Maree) other times pronounced as Varee. Mhairi is the vocative (and genitive) form of the name Mairi and should be pronounced Varee . But non-Gadhlig speakers are generally unaware of this and many say Maree. Even when the pronunciation is correct, the form is not correct - the nominative form should be Mairi, pronounced Maree. It is after all, a Gaidhlig effort to say the French name, Marie.

Then there's Hamish, which is the anglicisation of the vocative form of Seumas (the Gaidhlig form of the name James), which would be spelt Sheumas and pronounced Hamish...

It's an interesting and thought-provoking OP, but none of the faults attributed to Irish fecklessness are unique to Ireland.

What the examples from Ireland, Wales and Scotland show are cultures that have been anglicised to the extent that efforts to continue their previous majority languages in use often end up with bastardised forms, mainly through carelessness or lack of knowledge.

The planning issues, whether in housing or public transport, are not unique to Ireland and not even to anglophone countries. Visit Spain or Italy or almost any country that has a Mediterranean or Adriatic coast and you'll see cultures that don't value joined-up planning (except in its most literal sense of continuous building for kilometre after kilometre) and largely abandoned any serious efforts to preserve their coastlines from built-up tourist infrastructure decades ago. Albania is one of the few exceptions (not because of wise foresight but because of the paranoia of Enver Hoxha) but it's now merrily building (and often failing to complete) tacky tourist apartments all along its coast just like Spain did from the 1960s on.

One day, the entire shoreline of Our Sea is going to become a Leviathan of apartment blocks, Irish (or English) pubs, takeaways and villas - Mega Tourist Resort One.

Maybe the future residents of Kangbashi will holiday there, if they ever materialise...
 

Cellachán Chaisil

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Joined
Mar 3, 2009
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Ah, but sure they don't speak Irish in the UK or Spain either. :)
 

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