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Road signs and Irish Language



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,219 ✭✭✭ D.L.R.

    ROI N-road green is a significantly brighter shade than the UK's A-road green. Talking about the standard colour used in both countries going back decades. Not aware of any changes in recent years, in either country.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,491 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    The first type of N-road sign we got with km on it (late 70s) was definitely a darker green. Not really recent though...

  • Registered Users Posts: 192 ✭✭ stopthevoting

    I'm curious about the reasoning behind changing 2km to 2000m. Are there reasons why that is better?

    I have seen 1000m and 2000m on signs in Portugal, but I would prefer 1km and 2km.

  • Registered Users Posts: 450 ✭✭ KrisW1001

    You keep saying “brighter”, but that’s not the difference. The signage in Ireland is generally a different hue, not a paler shade. Also, it really depends on what you mean by “the UK”. Where are you referring to specifically? I posted a link to the “standard” previously. There is no such thing as a “standard colour” for UK (or Irish) signage, just a range of acceptable colours, and there is variation across the UK.

    The type of reflective materials used for signage has changed several times in the last few decades, with the newer types being much more reflective. You can see this where signs have been patched. (I posted an advance direction sign for Hangar Lane in London a few pages ago where this is clearly visible).

    @Hotblack Desiato the very first signs used a kind of reflective paint - there are very few of these left in Ireland, but you can find the odd survivor in small towns. Later signs used a prismatic material, which reflects more light. This is what makes them appear brighter. Those materials have continued to be developed over the years, and signs erected in the last 10 years are noticeably more reflective than earlier ones.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,373 ✭✭✭✭ breezy1985

    All this talk of people being confused by something as simple as dual languages on a road sign only reinforces my belief that a lot of people on the roads in this country are not worthy of their drivers license

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  • Registered Users Posts: 450 ✭✭ KrisW1001

    You’ll note it’s always someone else’s confusion that they’re worried about...

    In fairness, this thread wasn’t about being confused by Irish on signs, but rather as a suggestion on how to accommodate both languages on a sign without the result being as ugly as it is at present. It got hijacked a couple of times, but we’ve managed to avoid the dark pit of language politics.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,491 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    Drivers only have a very short time to read and interpret a sign especially at motorway speeds or when entering a complex urban junction. So they need to be well-designed and clear. Putting two languages onto a sign makes this harder but certainly not impossible. There can't be a driver in existence who's never taken a wrong turn or missed an exit...

  • Registered Users Posts: 450 ✭✭ KrisW1001

    I’ve taken wrong turns, but never because I couldn’t determine what the place was from a sign-board. I’ve also taken wrong turns in countries with monolingual signage: off the top of my head, places where I’ve made wrong turns include Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, France, UK and the United States, and except for Czech, in each of those I also had a enough of the local language to be able to read directions like “KEEP RIGHT” or “NEXT EXIT”. If you were to ask me the main reason for missing a turn, I’d say the most common cause was that the placement of the sign was misleading with regard to where the required turn actually was: the USA is particularly bad in this, as they don’t use “fingerpost” signs on junctions very consistently (or at all sometimes) to confirm that you’re going the way you think you are.

    But again, arguing on behalf of some unidentified yet incapable person is the hallmark of a weak argument. In all the years we’ve had accidents on the road, if just one driver had ever told the press “I was confused by the two names on the sign” we would have heard about it, don’t you think? Especially given the antipathy toward the Irish language in large parts of the Irish population.

    It’s a non-issue. The bigger problem with Irish road signage is the occasional inconsistency of the designs, and the fact that in some locations, there’s too much of it to take in at once.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,219 ✭✭✭ D.L.R.

    The Republic has a very confused bilingual policy in general.

    Our road signage standards are a reflection of that.

    Post edited by D.L.R. on

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,219 ✭✭✭ D.L.R.

    Nothing to do with materials or age, ROI simply uses a brighter pantone shade of green than the UK, which is the basis for all signage in both states. I believe motorway blue is a different shade too, but not as noticeable.

    ROI green is closer to the US or France, but these countries are generally white font monolingual throughout. It doesn't register a yellow font as well however, which is part of the reason ROI signage is such a dog's dinner.

  • Registered Users Posts: 450 ✭✭ KrisW1001

    There has been a change of materials, though. Two at least over the last thirty years. You can clearly see it where old signage has been patched in the UK: the new material is more reflective and thus appears brighter, even in daylight. Our major-route signage is still all too young for there to be much evidence of this, but the UK has an older stock, and so has more chance of repairs. If you drive at night, this becomes extremely obvious.

    It is the hue of our signs that is different, it’s more towards cyan than the UK’s more yellow hue. But that’s nothing to do with the reflectivity of the signs themselves. Incidentally, the shade of yellow we use here is also different: the UK uses a “warmer” (more orange) tone, we use a “cooler” (more green) tone. If we used the same shade of yellow as the UK on our bluer signs, it would create a slight strobing effect.

    Our motorway signage uses a very slightly more saturated blue colour than the UK’s, but the hue is much closer than with the green boards. The ISO colour spec for blue signs is much tighter than that for green, so there’s less permitted variation anyway.

    On these two random samples (M1 Louth, M45 Birmingham), the HSL colour picked off the photo gives a Hue reading of 220 and 221 degrees. That’s a negligible difference: ambient light and time of day would account for a bigger variation.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,213 ✭✭✭ chewed

    That's actually something that bugs me on our town/city signs. The sign usually has "TOWN CENTRE" in English, but the Irish will nearly always be the Irish version of the town name. e.g. in this example, Cavan Town Centre is down as Irish "An Cabhán", and TOWN CENTRE for English version! Why can't they have it as "CAVAN TOWN CENTRE"?

  • Registered Users Posts: 450 ✭✭ KrisW1001

    This is no longer in the Traffic Signs Manual, thankfully. At first, these used to say “An Lár TOWN CENTRE”, then that changed to “Áitainm TOWN CENTRE” (name of place in Irish), but now it’s just “Áitainm PLACE NAME”, with both present.

    Of course, the problem with the new system is that for bigger towns, there’s now no clear direction that shows you the way to the actual centre.

    Italy’s signage system uses a bullseye symbol that indicates the way to centre of the named town: it would be a nice thing to adopt here, I think.

    (The brown/yellow signs are

  • Registered Users Posts: 18 EthanL13

    Backtracking a bit since it's a been a while...

    any particular reason you changed KILLORGLIN to Killorglan?

    Nope that was a mistake on my part.

    Although there are plenty of examples where "WRONG WAY TURN BACK" signs on sliproads have only Irish text on one side of the road - who is most likely to be driving on the wrong side of the road?

    As @KrisW1001 said, these very old signs are on their way out. The signs were perhaps split in an attempt to prevent an overload of critical information (imagine if these signs were on one sign? However, with their misspellings, you could say they likely pose(d) more a threat to Irish speaking people rather than tourists ;) ( 'No' right way? / Month right way?) Thankfully they are more or less replaced with the new signs (even with English on top of the Irish, would you believe), but I would argue that the new signs could do away with the text and should be using the internationally recognised "no entry" sign rather than our "no straight ahead" sign (which technically should only be used when accompanied with exceptions) to get the point across immediately. Most European countries use the sign on it's own, Austria however uses this:

    I'm curious about the reasoning behind changing 2km to 2000m. Are there reasons why that is better?

    No reason in particular, again just a personal touch. No reasons why it's better as far as I'm aware.

    This is no longer in the Traffic Signs Manual, thankfully. At first, these used to say “An Lár TOWN CENTRE”, then that changed to “Áitainm TOWN CENTRE” (name of place in Irish), but now it’s just “Áitainm PLACE NAME”, with both present.

    I've never understood the reason for the change, but yes I would be in favour of using such a symbol instead (many countries do it). We do tend to follow the American way of explaining things with text that could be explained with symbols, especially seen with our brand new shared space signs (though of course since the concept is relatively new here it's probably for the best):

    Post edited by EthanL13 on

  • Registered Users Posts: 450 ✭✭ KrisW1001

    Not American at all - the inspiration is more obviously the German “Spielstraße” sign (which I’ve seen erected here by councils in one or two places):

    That used to be only used for residential streets with high chances of children playing (hence “Spielstraße”), but now officially it is used for any area where the road is shared by cars and pedestrians.

    When first introduced in Germany, these had a supplementary plate underneath that read “Spielstraße” (there was one near to where I lived a long time ago), but years later, it’s sufficient to just mount the main pictogram sign without description. I suspect these will go the same way here over time. After all, I remember seeing “Roundabout Ahead”, “Signalised Roundabout Ahead” plates on signs a long time ago, but they’re completely absent these days - once people know what the symbols mean, there’s no need for the additional plate.

  • Registered Users Posts: 18 EthanL13

    Not American at all - the inspiration is more obviously the German “Spielstraße” sign (which I’ve seen erected here by councils in one or two places)

    I didn't mean that that particular sign was American, I meant that here we often put things into text that could be conveyed with symbols ;)

  • Registered Users Posts: 450 ✭✭ KrisW1001

    We do, but only for new concepts. Then we revert to symbol-only signage. Like I said, I can’t remember when I last saw a “roundabout ahead” sign plate, but there was a time that they were affixed to lots of roundabout signs. Now, there’s just the symbol with no explanation needed.

    The way we do it is normal in other countries too. When a sign design (or the traffic control it represents) is new, its meaning is usually spelled out too. After a few years, there’s no need to do that anymore.

    The difference with the American system is that with ours, the text is present to aid comprehension, whereas in American signs, there is only the text. For example, this “design”:

    However, you might be surprised to see that this is also part of the same system:

    ... and note the supplementary plate describing the sign. The explanation for this is that the Federal Highways Agency knows that English-only signs are a safety problem, and has actually been sneaking toward using pictorial signs, but like just everything in that country, adopting ideas from other places runs the risk of some oddball Senator, usually a Republican, vindictively killing your budget for being “unAmerican”.