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Road signs and Irish Language

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  • "Italy isn't a bilingual country" Where do I even start with this? Those who live in an anglophone bubble are really displaying astounding levels of intellectual, linguistic and cultural laziness more akin to parts of England or the American South.

    Just some of the many native languages spoken in Italy: (Italian is basically Tuscan BTW, created as a national language from the time of Petrarch and massively expanding after the creation of Italy in the 1860s.)

    Sicilian, Tyrolese German, Slovene, Sardu, Aragonese, Catalan, Albanian, Greek, Occitan, Piedmontese, Franco-Provençal, Venetian, Neopolitian etc etc.

    The "it was rammed down my throat" attitude towards Irish is understandable, especially for those 65 and older, but imo, it's often an excuse for linguistic laziness that applies to all languages other than English. If that's the case, why do so many 65 and older still practise Catholicism? That was rammed down their throats too.

    Personally, I don't have any problem with the font, design or otherwise of Irish on road signs. It's a fairly low priority for me. I do dislike the half translations of Irish place-names (Nás na Ríogh, not An Nás; Cluainín Uí Ruairc, not An Cluainín). However, I'm sure tourists, immigrants etc aren't too bothered either, as they try to meander their way through a country with an obscene housing & affordability crisis, horrendously poor public transport & perennial inefficienies in the provision of public services.





  • I'm not going to put much effort into this as I can already tell where this thread will descend too.... Getting lost in the Gaeltacht because the signs are in Irish... Too funny.

    Anyway, soley on the topic. There has been a lobby for the updating of signage that are new or getting replaced with a newer design give ming equal weight to both languages.

    This was meant to be started on a trial basis in 2013 and Leo committed to it at the time but not sure what happened it.

    Details here. There was another push in thr Dáil for it last year but there is always some emergency...

    https://www.irishtimes.com/business/transport-and-tourism/new-road-signs-with-parity-for-irish-may-be-introduced-1.1587458





  • @HabibiLibneni Where do I start? Italy has one single official language. Italian. Therefore all signage is in Italian. The multiple other languages are not official. Therefore its officially not a bilingual country.

    Ireland has two official languages. Both should be on all signage. I've no idea how the Gaeilgeoirs on here think wanting both official languages of the country on all signage is anti Irish 😏





  • That's at the national level. At regional level, some languages are recognised as co-official with Italian. In South Tyrol, all signs are in German and Italian and German is an official language of that region, is taught in all schools as a mandatory subject and all public services are available in either language. French is co-official is Aosta. Sardinian languages are treated as having the same status as Italian in the towns or regions they are used in.





  • As it happens, my eye is drawn to the yellow writing - some gobbledygook I don't understand - which I find makes the sign much more difficult to read.



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  • Don't worry, if you can handle the current road signs you'll find these ones much cleaner. Is it the English or Irish you find incomprehensible?





  • The Gaeltacht boundaries are not terribly accurate anymore. I pass signs for Baile Chlair regularly, everyone knows this as Claregalway, and uses this name, but this may not be written on any official road signs- due to laws brought in, I think by Eamon O'Cuiv. Claregalway, Menlo, the great majority of Moycullen, Barna are just not Gaeltacht anymore. There are multiple roadsigns in Galway that have English names, still used far more widely, taped over, to bring them in line with legislation. I would rather both English and Irish names were on these signs, notwithstanding the points, many excellent raised in the thread.





  • I think the thing here is that these towns do not have official English names which are different to their official Irish names. Roadsigns only carry official names, which is why the roadsigns in NI all list Londonderry instead of Derry/Londonderry or whichever. Putting both the official Irish and English names on roadsigns in these areas would just mean writing the same name twice.





  • ..as evidenced by all the confused drivers in the many territories and countries around the world that have dual-language road signs.


    If someone is confused by a bilingual sign, they're easily confused.






  • "This makes it look very much like the Scottish signage, which I like (well, the white-backed version - I’m not keen on the green ones), but I’d still keep the English names uppercase, for reasons of legibility."



    It looks nothing like the Scottish signage.



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  • The only info on a road sign should be necessary info.

    is it a necessity that the sign contains Irish ? NO.

    Why ? Because the whole population speak English or 99.999% of us do.

    The 2016 census showed a slight daily decrease in how much Irish is spoken in Ireland. The figures from Ireland's Census 2016 show 73,803 people, of the total population of 4.75 million, speak Irish daily. This equates to 1.7 percent of the population.

    so why is it necessary that the signs are all congested with information that will take more time for the driver to look through...answer : politics.





  • I'm never quite sure how to respond to this kind of circular argument. "We made it impossible for Irish people to live a normal life through Irish alone, forcing them to learn English, and now that they know English we can continue making it impossible for Irish people to live through Irish alone." If a person does not think that Irish people have a right to be able to live their lives through Irish in Ireland, what is there to say?

    As for your point about politics, saying Irish should be removed from signs is a far more political statement than saying Irish should be equal to English on them. The Constitution the Irish nation voted for gave us two official languages and one national language, which is Irish. As long as we have two official languages, either both should be equal on road signs or Irish should be on them alone. If the Irish people vote to dump Irish entirely so we become a linguistic West England, then fine, English-only signs would be the way to go.

    If a driver really can't handle a bilingual sign, they shouldn't be driving anyway.





  • Without a doubt Irish signs are in dire need of a redesign. Whoever thought of using an oblique typeface for road signage should never have had an input in the matter. Also the terrible use of condensing (by simply squashing the letters instead of designing a font, like in Italy or Germany) just makes the matter so much worse.

    I don't really understand the argument of the yellow text being distracting or even unreadable. Greece uses these colours (yellow text in Greek on top, white text in English on the bottom). They look perfectly fine to me. In fact, I prefer it over the use of one colour for both languages - it just creates confusion otherwise (Wales makes the matter worse by changing the position of Welsh text in different areas). It's not to prioritise one language over the other.

    The main issue with the original sign in the first post is that the sign is too narrow. This created a need for indentation, which is why it looks like 'An Muileann gCearr Thoir' is all over the place.

    Here's something I quickly made there last night:

    https://i.imgur.com/lgEvc1Y.png

    Junction no. is at the top, following a technique used in some European countries (e.g. Czechia and Hungary). Route no. (with an outline, as seen in every European country bar Ireland and the UK) is placed at the top of the sign, followed by the destinations. I've used a specially designed condensed version of the font for 'An Muileann gCearr -Thoir', to avoid the sign from being too wide.

    What are your thoughts?

    Post edited by EthanL13 on




  • You are missing the point.

    the point of the sign is to impart information to the motorist.

    the sign should be simple, uncluttered in the language that’s used by the people, English...

    Distances are provided in kilometers, no reason to provide in miles too...





  • No, you are missing the point. Ireland is legally and officially bilingual. It doesn't matter if more people speak English, because Irish is an official language too. The law requires the government to provide the information in both Irish and English, so unless you can convince the country to scrap either language, both will be on the signs.

    If Ireland officially used both miles (English or Irish) and kilometres, then both would be on roadsigns too. But we don't - we scrapped English miles long ago, and Irish miles long before that.





  • Irish is certainly an official language.

    it certainly will matter that most people speak English.

    what ‘law’ requires the government to have signs in both languages ? Genuine question...You are aware that in the Gaeltacht there are in fact road signs with zero English, just Irish ?





  • The Official Languages Act of 2003, which puts the Constitution's naming of Irish as both the "national language" and the "first official language", and English as "a second official language", into effect by allowing signage in either Irish only or Irish and English.





  • Thanks, so the government back then were money / time wasting panderers too :)

    with no interest in providing uncluttered and easy to read signs for road users in transit to their destinations... got a few votes I’m sure.





  • @Strumms Well, if you are defining clutter and pandering as two languages on one sign, all I can say is that I hope you never have to suffer driving anywhere outside England or the US!

    Of course, we could easily remove the "clutter" by extending the Irish-only roadsigns of the Gaeltacht across the entire country. As Irish-speakers are currently forced to speak English, English-speakers could easily just learn Irish. But something tells me you would still complain about the road signs then. ;)





  • If you're really struggling this much with bilingual signage, my advice is you stay in your safe anglophone bubble, sup your pints, keep yourself as far away from those multilingual horizons as possible, even though that might broaden your evidently closed mind, & keep that massive chip on your shoulder towards Irish/bilingualism/diversity/culture etc, as that's clearly the only place you are comfortable being.



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  • I’m multilingual and have lived outside this country as well as having extensively travelled so that debunks your little rant there. :) closed mind ? No just not of the same mind as you evidently :)

    im comfortable anywhere, debating whatever, but as this topic is about road signage I’d rather stick to that as opposed to making up hokey insults as you are inclined in your post above... thanks :)





  • My thoughts are that this copies both good and bad ideas from Continental Europe, but by doing a complete clean-sheet redesign to address the problem of long place-names, you’re throwing away all of the good ideas that are present in the current system.

    First off, yes, we need a properly-drawn condensed typeface: Irish signage would benefit greatly from a proper condensed version of the Transport face. (Italy uses a redrawn condensed Transport typeface, but unlike Transport, It does not seem to be sold commercially). Personally speaking, I do not like ClearView as a typeface, and I don’t think it is significantly more legible than Transport (the great claims made for the legibility of Clearview were in comparison with the FHWA Standard Alphabet series, a typeface that is distinctive, but hard to read).

    Putting the junction-number on a separate plate makes the sign more expensive, and creates confusion with the existing practice of putting route numbers on upper plates for route-confirmation signs. I don’t see a good reason to have it separate.

    The top-left arrow is pointing nowhere. I prefer the current design that is pointing to a road-lane. If you want to keep that orientation of arrow, moving it to the bottom left of the sign will convey the sense of “exit” better than the top-left.

    Boxed route-numbers are one of the bad ideas you’ve taken from Continental Europe. These were a feature of pre-1960s signage systems that were rejected by the UK as soon as they did scientific legibility testing. The box outline is visual noise. If you’re going to devote that area of the surface to showing the route number, then use it all for showing the route number. If you must box the numbers, give them more space inside, but it’s better to not do it at all. One of the few good changes we made from the original British design guidelines was to enlarge route-numbers on direction signs; it seems a shame to abandon it.

    I’m still unconvinced by the idea of yellow text for destination names. I do know the Greek signage uses it, and I think it’s too busy - the white version does away with the colouring, and looks better for it: the fact that the top line is in Greek alphabet and the lower in the Latin is enough of a distinction.






  • I do not like ClearView as a typeface, and I don’t think it is significantly more legible than Transport

    I chose to use Clearview not for its supposed improved legibility, but rather it was a personal touch. The use of yellow and white text in Transport doesn't really sit with me (even though I do find Scottish bilingual signs to look not that bad). Otherwise, I don't think Transport is a bad typeface in itself.

    Putting the junction-number on a separate plate makes the sign more expensive, and creates confusion with the existing practice of putting route numbers on upper plates for route-confirmation signs. I don’t see a good reason to have it separate.

    The reason I placed it separately was because... where else can it go without making the sign bigger or crammed with too much information right next to each other? There is space at the top right, but then it would be too confusing. Currently, on exit taper signs, the route numbers are "floating" and uncentred while the junction number sits nicely at the bottom right. Following your opinion on "hierarchy" (albeit based on ADS signage rather than exit taper signage), I chose to place it at the top, followed by the route number, followed by the destinations. And while you mention it, I quite dislike the separation of route numbers on route confirmatory signs. The current rule is that it they are separated when there is more than one destination signposted; I'm not quite sure of the reasoning behind this, as even the UK doesn't do this. The only European country I can think of that follows this practice is France, but they separate their route numbers on all signs anyway. In my opinion, it looks much better when it's all on the one sign, like here: https://goo.gl/maps/LBcSUWGgJziwTMUG6

    The top-left arrow is pointing nowhere. I prefer the current design that is pointing to a road-lane. If you want to keep that orientation of arrow, moving it to the bottom left of the sign will convey the sense of “exit” better than the top-left.

    This was sort of an experiment on my part. I followed Dutch practice here, where they've used arrows pointed upwards since 2010.

    If you’re going to devote that area of the surface to showing the route number, then use it all for showing the route number. If you must box the numbers, give them more space inside, but it’s better to not do it at all. One of the few good changes we made from the original British design guidelines was to enlarge route-numbers on direction signs; it seems a shame to abandon it.

    Again, this was another experiment. I did realise afterwards that it should be bigger with wider spacing.

    I’m still unconvinced by the idea of yellow text for destination names. I do know the Greek signage uses it, and I think it’s too busy

    I disagree, Greek signage is still relatively clear, especially since it's based on German signage (at least, the motorway signs are). But speaking of which, when I experimented using coloured route numbers (red for motorways, white for N roads and yellow for R roads) it became all too much, so I did away with it.

    ...the fact that the top line is in Greek alphabet and the lower in the Latin is enough of a distinction.

    This is where the Balkans exceed in their bilingual signage. Greece could've done the same, but at least their signage gives inspiration for Irish signage to follow the same practice, for me anyways. 😉





  • If you're multilingual and have lived abroad, you should really get over your dislike of Irish because the signs will remain bilingual regardless of your grudge against it. If you don't like Irish, use the English version. It's really not that difficult. The Irish state isn't going to change the constitution just because you have a latent dislike towards a language because what, you didn't get an honour in it? Your initial premise was the signs needn't be cluttered by being bilingual. Now you're saying you're multilingual but you still want road signs in English only. If you want a debate about the constitutional status of Irish, this isn't the forum for it. We're discussing the case for altering/reforming the font and style of signage in either or both languages. Your rant is nothing to do with that. You can save your begrudgery/disdain for Irish in other appropriate fora; this isn't the one for it. Your contributions are nothing but contrarian attention seeking based on your own sour prejudices.





  • where did I say that I dislike Irish ? I don’t dislike it at all. You are making things up now :)

    im saying that there are no people in this country who require Irish on the signs... every person who speaks Irish here speaks English...

    therefore, de-clutter the signs, have only the information on them that is required.





  • no. Safety should. The current signs could be much better- very confusing at speed sometimes





  • The signage is required to display the official names of places in the official languages of the state. The said official languages are Irish and English. I suggest you get over yourself and deal with this legal and constitutional reality.





  • I take it you will be lobbying the Greek government to display road signs in Greek only? Everyone in Greece speaks Greek natively. There's no need for the latinised version, ergo, why bother cluttering the signs with 2 versions of the same language? Sure you're a multilingual troll, I'm sure you'll only be delighted to have the opportunity to learn the Greek alphabet while meandering through the Athens metro or deciding what ferry to take at Piraeus. I think you should do the same in the UAE. Arabic is the legal language. Oh, English is supplanting French as Lebanon's 2nd language. You should lobby that French is replaced with English on their signs too, or eradicate both so that only Arabic is displayed on road signs. Clutter, etc.





  • where did you live?

    when you were living abroad did you get really angry with signs that had dual languages on them? Or do you get angry only when signage isn’t in English. I bet if you were in an Arab or Asian country when the signs had supplementary English you were happy enough



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  • You are getting a bit emotive dude... over a road sign. No the sign is there to inform people... THAT is the reality. :)



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