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Old March 27th, 2009, 05:56 PM   #1
bozata90
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Linguistic issues - road signs

Since many of the topics include linguistic issues, it is good to have one to transfer all such opinions and to make such discussions here. I am sorry if there is another such thread - if there is I'd like the moderator to delete this one.

My personal opinion is that we have to respect other nations' and minority languages and to write everything as it is written in its on language (as in D). But I still think that it is good to have double signs (like Rijeka/Reka) for places with strongly different names in the local than the original language (example: Bulgarian - "Solun"; Greek - "Thessaloniki").

For me it is also annoying to see old signs written only in Cyrillic here in Bulgaria (there are also a few of them in Greece).For me there is no problem to read signs in all the three scripts present in Europe (Latin, Cyrillic, Greek), but I do not think that all people shall know all the three to get around. That's why such case often make me crazy - I often have to tell Greeks where to drive to go to Ruse for example.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 06:09 PM   #2
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Bulgaria

The main linguistic issue here is, of course, the Latin - most of the old signs are written only in Cyrillic and this makes them really hard to read by a foreigner. The other problem is that we have two transcriptions - an old one (with diacritic signs like č and ă) and new one: http://transliteration.mdaar.government.bg/trans.php, which shall be used everywhere, but it is not and this is really sad. That is why you may see signs like: "Rousse","Russe" and "Ruse".

The other very annoying thing is that we usually sign the border check-points instead of towns in neighbor countries (these are signed only 50 km from the border or so), much like in Poland. This is still not a big issue since we are not in Schengen, but if things don't change it will be really sad.

Minority languages are also not respected. I do not understand why bulgarians fear signs in Turkish (there are no official Turkish signs in BG, but there are many informal ones). I guess we still have much way to go until we reach the situation (for example) in Italy or Istria...
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Old March 27th, 2009, 08:37 PM   #3
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Italy is not exactly a model country, when it comes to this. I think signs should always be (also) in the language of the city it points to. Countries not necessarily, if you add oval.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 08:41 PM   #4
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My preference is to sign cities in their original language, since you need to know that anyway to continue in the other country. However, this is problematic when a city is bilingual, such as Brussel/Bruxelles.

The most important thing is that signs are legible. Some countries really mess it up with translations, sometimes all places are translated, sometimes only a few or only one.

The main problem (IMO) is that linguistic strifes are implemented on signs, something clearly visible in Belgium for example, which makes the signage unclear or even worse when destinations are painted over with graffiti. You can't expect a Czech or Swede to know the translations of all major Belgian cities in both Dutch and French.

Luckily, I noticed Germany and the Netherland start to replace signs with only the exonym, for instance Arnheim and Nimwegen are now more and more signed as "Arnhem" and "Nijmegen", their actual names. Same in the Netherlands where "Keulen" and "Aken" are mostly replaced with "Kln" and "Aachen".
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Old March 27th, 2009, 08:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisZwolle View Post
However, this is problematic when a city is bilingual, such as Brussel/Bruxelles.
That's the main problem in Slovenia, f.e., with large Slovenian minority in all neighboring countries, except Croatia (disputed areas excluded ). I'm pretty sure we'll never see signs in Slovenia saying just 'Trieste', 'Trst' will always be included, even though the city is officially not bilingual, for which you can thank Italian extreme nationalism.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 10:32 PM   #6
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There are some bilingual signs in the northern part of the Netherlands, where most towns are signed in Dutch and in Frisian.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 10:37 PM   #7
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Those are city limit signs only. Not the road signage itself. You can also find those in Limburg.
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Old March 28th, 2009, 12:28 PM   #8
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A bad example of a bilangual sign:


This is better:

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Old March 28th, 2009, 12:39 PM   #9
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That's what I meant: bilingual sign are only necessary when the names in the different languages are strongly different: like the case of Solun - Thessaloniki or Cardiff - Caerdydd. For the case with Paris - this is ridiculous, almost everybody in the world knows how to spell it in French... I'd prefer "Paris [F]"!
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Old March 28th, 2009, 03:50 PM   #10
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The first sign is absolutely terrible. Doornik ("Dornik") sounds very Slovenian, btw.
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Old March 28th, 2009, 05:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bozata90 View Post
The main linguistic issue here is, of course, the Latin - most of the old signs are written only in Cyrillic and this makes them really hard to read by a foreigner. The other problem is that we have two transcriptions - an old one (with diacritic signs like č and ă) and new one: http://transliteration.mdaar.government.bg/trans.php, which shall be used everywhere, but it is not and this is really sad. That is why you may see signs like: "Rousse","Russe" and "Ruse".
I actually hate the current official transliteration for Bulgarian, as it's made from an English perspective, and while most people that visit Bulgaria know English, they mostly know it as a second language, so they don't tend to read foreign names from an English perspective. The old system (with , č, , ă) was better. Besides, the new one doesn't differentiate а (a) from ъ (ă - in the old system), that are pronounced radically different.
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Old March 29th, 2009, 12:50 AM   #12
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agree
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Old March 29th, 2009, 07:37 PM   #13
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And how do you expect a French to read all this? Or how shall I write messages in bulgarian, when I do not have the Cyrillic on the keyboard. This system was not made because of the English - they decided to make it without diacritics, so it will be easier to use it on the computer keyboard.. The system was made by team of linguists, using English, French and German respectively. That is why we do not use "j", but "zh" for Ж.
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Old March 29th, 2009, 10:52 PM   #14
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what is from french and geman?
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Old March 30th, 2009, 12:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bozata90 View Post
And how do you expect a French to read all this?
And how do you expect non-French speaking to read French names?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bozata90 View Post
This system was not made because of the English - they decided to make it without diacritics, so it will be easier to use it on the computer keyboard.
So it seems it is just a problem with the keyboards? Bad keyboards are a technical problem, not too difficult to solve, if they wanted to.

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what is from french and geman?
Not having one to one correspondence of pronunciation and characters and not having one character for one sound.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 01:39 PM   #16
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Not having one to one correspondence of pronunciation and characters and not having one character for one sound.
so nothing? everything is from english?
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Old March 30th, 2009, 08:22 PM   #17
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Keyboard? It's only a technical issue for the country writing the signs, it's not an issue for the tourist. The reason why the old system was better is the 1-1 correspondence (especially in the a/ă department). Accurate pronunciation isn't a problem for the tourist, but the new system makes it more ambiguous. In any case you don't see Latvia, for example, as Latvian has many letters with diacritics, worrying about them, because the base alphabet is the same - Latin.

And yes, everything is from English: zh for ž, sh for š, ch for č. No ch or sch for š, tsch for č, j for ž, which would be French/German.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 08:39 PM   #18
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y (instead of j) for й and ts (instead of c) for ц are also english-style.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayceman View Post
I actually hate the current official transliteration for Bulgarian, as it's made from an English perspective, and while most people that visit Bulgaria know English, they mostly know it as a second language, so they don't tend to read foreign names from an English perspective. The old system (with , č, , ă) was better. Besides, the new one doesn't differentiate а (a) from ъ (ă - in the old system), that are pronounced radically different.
I totally agree. From my experience native English speakers don't pronounce the names close to original anyway.

Another case of ambiguity happens when you transliterate words like схема in new transliteration system, the old system doesn't have such problems.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 08:43 PM   #19
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The idea of the system was that it shall be used for GENERAL TRANSCRIPTION, not for road signs only.
This is not the real problem - the problem is that they use 2 or 3 different systems... The government has chosen this one - good or bad - implement it!
Please start posting other cases, not only Bulgaria. Thank you!
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Old March 30th, 2009, 08:45 PM   #20
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Luckily we in South Africa do not write all 11 official languages on all our signs. We normally choose one at a time for road signs. The majority will be in English with some in Afrikaans.

Official signs indicating Government institutions like courts etc will be written in English, Afrikaans and the main local languages.
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