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Self and Hasty  
#1 Posted : 22 March 2021 14:14:36(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Self and Hasty

I'm sure there will be backlash on this one but I wanted to open up conversation:

I'm English, but have lived in the 'land of my choice' Wales since 2006, my children are Welsh, I love Wales and I'm very happy here.

Wales has it's own language and there are specific laws in place to try and protect this language before it completely dies out (Welsh Language Act 1993) I understand and am sympathetic to the desperate clinging on to this cultural identity and the law in place to preserve it.

However,  when it comes to Health and Safety; notices, communication, signage etc. I am struggling to see how having all signs and noticeboards bi-lingual is in the best interests in safe guarding site users from identified risks.

A clear example of this is making clients sites covid-secure, having to have the welsh language first and equally represented in its entirity so the simple instruction to keep left for example is:

"Cadwch i'r Chwith - Keep Left"

Which is really catchy eh?

When I've then reminded students breaching the rules that the signs say 'keep left', they argue they can't speak welsh.

Indeed most people, certainly in South Wales where I'm based, don't speak, read or understand Welsh. English is their first language and other than a few forced lessons in school they don't use or understand the language.

There are several problems with this, not least of all logistically. For example:

I'm putting together the Health and Safety noticeboards for a clients sites. They currently don't have any communication to site users. The welsh HSE Law poster only comes in A2 size. Both languages, according to the law, have to have equal prominence. I have to have both the engligh and welsh A2 posters on the same board. The H&S Policy is two sides so in welsh too is x4 sides of A4, then the fire marshals and first aiders information I can put into one sheet of A4 as it's bilingual anyway, The insurance certificate because it comes from a third party is apparently okay that it's in English only, though that hasn't been explained as to why? The covid controls are in english but is now being translated into welsh... (Incidently all the risk assessments and other documents are all only in English though this hasn't been questioned?)

The boards are already full without even adding site plans and emergency procedures like I intended.

The biggest boards I could buy are not big enough to feasibly display all the required information. Cramming in double the infromation is making the information hard to find/read. And this could be leading to the information being ignored or misunderstood putting site users in greater risk of harm.

Apparently having a welsh language board and an english language board is not appropriate solution as they have to be bilingual in the same place and equally represented.

The signage is bad but these noticeboards are looking ridiculous and counter intutitive, It's a challenge in getting this information read and understood at the best of times, but when trying to force an essentially dead language into the mix too which is understood by very few people surely it's more harm than good?

When does national pride in their language take presidence over the safety of everyone?

For context the faculty organogram for the building I'm currently in has the mugshots of x45 members of staff on it, x4 of these members of staff are identified as welsh speakers (9%). All of them can read and understand english.

The two official languages of Wales are English and Welsh. English is the primary official language, able to be used in all situations whereas Welsh only has official status in limited but significant situations as defined by legislation.
Official: English (99%) Welsh (29.3%),

"For the year ending 30 June 2020, the Annual Population Survey reported that 28.5% of people aged three and over were able to speak Welsh. This figure equates to 861,700 people. This is 1.1 percentage point lower than the previous year (year ending 30 June 2019), equating to 29,400 fewer people."

(around 6.5% of children speak Welsh as a first language, and about 7.7% of the population overall. That’s much lower than the Census figure and hugely lower than the ONS population survey.)

So assuming the worst case scenario is these 29% of welsh nationals that DO speak welsh theoretically CAN'T speak/read/understand english, should they have or need 50% representation in signage and information?

Sorry for the long rant, I just am struggling logistically with adhering to the Welsh Language Act 1993 and wondering if Health and Safety would/could take presidence over this. Surely it's better to keep people safe than to confuse them with reams of confusing information?

To reiterate, I have nothing against the Welsh, Wales or the the Welsh language, I just have concerns over the effectiveness and practicality of bi-lingual signage and notices for a minority when it comes to safety.

Opinions, comments and solutions welcome!

biker1  
#2 Posted : 22 March 2021 15:05:51(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
biker1

I think this is a classic example of the concept of unintended consequences. I would be the last to decry the preservation of a language, despite reducing numbers of people using it, but enshrining this in law is a case of not thinking through the possible consequences. As a nation, we are legally obliged to recognise two languages - English and Welsh. What those speaking Gaelic, or indeed the Cornish language, think of this I don't know, but it does seem a trifle unfair to single out just one of our regional languages for such preservation. The origin of this preservation probably derives from lobbying from a lot of people. It would be sad to see the language disappear, but as you allude to, some common sense is required in how it is applied and for what.

Brian Hagyard  
#3 Posted : 22 March 2021 15:30:47(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Brian Hagyard

Spent 3 wonderful years UCNW Bangor North Wales but im afraid the sum total of my Welsh is Dim Parcio, which prevented me getting a parking ticket. The locals used to find it amusing to go round spray painting all the English signs from time to time. After one good evening in the Student Union Bar I remember a group of people (not me obviously) going round spay paining all the Welsh signs out!

But back to your question. One law very rarely “trumps another” so unfortunately I don’t see any option but to display every-thing in both languages. Common Sense and law sadly are often at odds with each other.

Roundtuit  
#4 Posted : 22 March 2021 15:45:09(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

From an alternative view written in the various items of legislation that have arisen during the period of UK EU membership there is duty upon:

a supplier of a Chemical substance or Mixture to provide a Safety Data Sheet....

a supplier of a construction product to provide a Declaration of Performance....

a supplier of any product to provide instruction for safe use and handling....

a supplier of a medicine or medicinal product to provide information....

...  in a Member State Language

Despite the road signs North, South, West or even across the Irish Sea those lands considered part of the UK only have English as the Member State language.

Certain ministers need to be careful what is written in to law regarding language even the Belgians often cited as the ultimate EU documentation nightmare (3 languages) are now considering if they should harmonise upon the one language actually used by the majority of their population - English.

At least we avoided the burden of Esparanto thanks to French nationalism.

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biker1 on 22/03/2021(UTC), biker1 on 22/03/2021(UTC)
Roundtuit  
#5 Posted : 22 March 2021 15:45:09(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

From an alternative view written in the various items of legislation that have arisen during the period of UK EU membership there is duty upon:

a supplier of a Chemical substance or Mixture to provide a Safety Data Sheet....

a supplier of a construction product to provide a Declaration of Performance....

a supplier of any product to provide instruction for safe use and handling....

a supplier of a medicine or medicinal product to provide information....

...  in a Member State Language

Despite the road signs North, South, West or even across the Irish Sea those lands considered part of the UK only have English as the Member State language.

Certain ministers need to be careful what is written in to law regarding language even the Belgians often cited as the ultimate EU documentation nightmare (3 languages) are now considering if they should harmonise upon the one language actually used by the majority of their population - English.

At least we avoided the burden of Esparanto thanks to French nationalism.

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biker1 on 22/03/2021(UTC), biker1 on 22/03/2021(UTC)
biker1  
#6 Posted : 23 March 2021 10:45:27(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
biker1

Quite. Whatever happended to Esperanto?

As a nation, we are in one sense in an enviable position as English is probably the nearest thing to a universal language, but on the other hand it has made us lazy in not learning other languages. It does seem strange when you think about it that when any of use learn another language it is for a foreign country, but we don't learn other languages spoken in our own country.

A Kurdziel  
#7 Posted : 23 March 2021 12:52:44(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

Perhaps this question is inappropriate for a forum that prides itself on following rules, but what would happen if you just put up a notice in English? Are there Welsh language inspectors who visit workplaces and check for the appropriate use of Welsh?

Doesn’t there have to be evidence that by not putting signage in Welsh you are discriminating against people who only speak Welsh? Conversely if you put the signage in Welsh only you would get it in the neck from the HSE since Welsh is a language  that not all of  your employees can thoroughly understand!

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aud on 23/03/2021(UTC)
stevedm  
#8 Posted : 23 March 2021 15:01:28(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevedm

There is a similar act for Scotland so I agree and support them...practical implementation is always the key to any peice of legislation...enjoy..

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A Kurdziel on 23/03/2021(UTC)
Gerry Knowles  
#9 Posted : 23 March 2021 15:45:08(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Gerry Knowles

Where I do recognise that there will be areas across the United Kingdom where countries or parts of countries will want to maintain either a national language or local dialect and that can only be a good thing.  I understand from my family that the Doric (a language spoken in and around Aberdeenshire) is making a comeback.  In fact most of my family on my fathers side were fluent in it.  However I do feel that we can go too far and may be causing confusion when it comes to signs and documents if there is a move towards have them in all the local languages.  For example in my own family we all speak English, some speak The Doric, and a few speak Gaelic. 

The real issue is comes in translation when a small mistake or interperation can change the whole meaning of a phrase or paragraph.  This can lead to all sorts of legal arguments, when it come to criminal prosecution or litigation. 

For me lets encourage the speaking of ancient languages and keep the traditions alive, but lets keep things like health and safety signage etc in a language that we can all understand and can't be confused.  

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A Kurdziel on 23/03/2021(UTC)
FHS  
#10 Posted : 24 March 2021 08:54:05(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
FHS

This is a link to the HSE's "Working With Wales" document - https://www.hse.gov.uk/welsh/welsh-scheme.htm

It recognises that Wales has a legally recognised language that has to be regarded by organisatios and businesses working in Wales.

Road traffic signs have been in place for many years and I am not aware of any accidents caused by anyone being confused by either the English or Welsh instructions they contain

CptBeaky  
#11 Posted : 24 March 2021 09:03:46(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
CptBeaky

This does remind me of the time a council put up a Welsh language road sign reading "I am out of the office at the moment" when it should have said "No entry for heavy goods vehicles". Obviously an automated reply from the translator to a request.

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Connor35037 on 24/03/2021(UTC)
biker1  
#12 Posted : 24 March 2021 09:14:26(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
biker1

As has been noted, the problem with a proliferation of languages is translation. It is usually difficult to translate from one language to another with accuracy and relevance. Sometimes there isn't a direct equivalent, or the translator has to choose between several possibilities, and needs to take the context into account, not to mention changes in the use of words over the years. Look at how many versions of the bible there are, and how different the usage of words was in the days of King James. Whilst encouraging local languages and dialects, I think we need to keep in mind such difficulties, and with health and safety, the consequences of getting it wrong can be serious.. If we have a common language, like English, it makes sense to stick to this when communicating important messages.

Brian Hagyard  
#13 Posted : 24 March 2021 09:28:17(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Brian Hagyard

Originally Posted by: biker1 Go to Quoted Post

. Whilst encouraging local languages and dialects, I think we need to keep in mind such difficulties, and with health and safety, the consequences of getting it wrong can be serious.. If we have a common language, like English, it makes sense to stick to this when communicating important messages.

But unfortunatly in Wales that is against the law - and yes you could be fined for not haveing signs in both languages - common sence is not a defence in court.

Just like other laws we may not agree with them but we have to abide by them.

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stevedm on 24/03/2021(UTC)
Roundtuit  
#14 Posted : 24 March 2021 09:35:58(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Even English as a "single" language has issues.

How often does someone post on this forum using technical acronyms common in their country/region/industry that leave others agog and guessing what they are trying to say?

More correctly how often do we debate what the (interpratation) guidance to RIDDOR is attempting to describe, and that is before we revert to reading the lawyer speak which is the published Satutory Instrument.

Roundtuit  
#15 Posted : 24 March 2021 09:35:58(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Even English as a "single" language has issues.

How often does someone post on this forum using technical acronyms common in their country/region/industry that leave others agog and guessing what they are trying to say?

More correctly how often do we debate what the (interpratation) guidance to RIDDOR is attempting to describe, and that is before we revert to reading the lawyer speak which is the published Satutory Instrument.

Evans38004  
#16 Posted : 24 March 2021 10:52:25(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Evans38004

French could become the most spoken language in the world by 2050! According to a Daily Mail article published on December 19, the French language could be the next world first language. I'll be retired from H&S by then and may need to learnt French as part of my retiremwent plan. Also, the Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg has referred to Welsh as a foreign language! Mae hi'n fraint i fod yn ddwy ieithiog - o bydded i'r hen iaith barhau.
stevedm  
#17 Posted : 24 March 2021 13:55:18(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevedm

we have all fallen foul of translation at some point...I had some slides translated for a presentation in Poland and the translation of manual handling was a little too personal than what was intended...the key is keeping it simple...I produced for our frontline staff a book with the key words for tending to a patient which were precise it took a long time to get it right...so I can't think of a better example of making sure the correct message gets across...love it or loath it there is no argument legally for going against it...the fact that we have so many languages spoken in the UK we should be proud and support it at every opportunity...this will be controversial - perhaps if there was greater pride generally across England for the land including its language (noting that most speak a form of conversational American nowadays due to getting their queues from social media) we might not be in quiet as much mess as we are now?  Maybe less individualism would help?

Brian Hagyard  
#18 Posted : 24 March 2021 14:44:13(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Brian Hagyard

Originally Posted by: stevedm Go to Quoted Post

we have all fallen foul of translation at some point...I had some slides translated for a presentation in Poland and the translation of manual handling was a little too personal than what was intended

I was asked to deliver a days training a few years ago - turned up to find out 3/4 of my audiance was polish and spoke no English - but it was OK as they had provided a polish translator. Very strange experiance as she translated everything i said to the audiance - certainly got more laughs than i usualy did - so i either have a futer in stand up in Poland or she was putting her own spin on the talk.

A Kurdziel  
#19 Posted : 24 March 2021 16:03:57(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

Hello again

I have been trying to work out what the actual law says and basically it says- nobody should be put a disadvantage because b they choose to speak Welsh for example in court. It does say that public bodies (which is widely defined) should be bilingual but nowhere does it says that private business must use Welsh as well as English.  I am not sure if there is requirement to put up H&S notices bilingually unless there are people working there who can only speak Welsh but that is the same everywhere else in the UK . If three quarters of your employees basically Polish speakers then you need to provide information etc in Polish.

 

“Musisz używać właściwego języka w odpowiednich okolicznościach” as my dad would say!

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biker1 on 24/03/2021(UTC)
biker1  
#20 Posted : 24 March 2021 16:54:16(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
biker1

Yes, that was my understanding too. And are we sure that h&s law doesn't in fact trump other laws where necessary?

Ron Hunter  
#21 Posted : 25 March 2021 15:00:14(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Ron Hunter

Yep, my reading of the Act is that only notified public bodies are required to prepare a scheme.

biker1  
#22 Posted : 25 March 2021 15:45:45(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
biker1

I once had to work through interpreters on audits in the Czech Republic, and what amused me was when I asked a question, there would be a five minute dialogue with the interviewee, quite excitable, and then the interpreter would come back to me and just say 'no'.

Self and Hasty  
#23 Posted : 26 March 2021 15:31:01(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Self and Hasty

Thank you all for your input.

I think as others have said I just have to accept it's law even if it's contrary to common sense and even if it makes the communication of important H&S infomation less clear.

I got jumped on by the minority and ordered to display all signs and notices in welsh too.

So, I've recieved some of the documents back in the translated vowel-less abomination that is the welsh language, and I have no way of checking that the translator has accurately conveyed all the information in the original English documents, I just have to blindly trust that it's correct. --> another aspect in this which doesn't sit right with me.

I like the ideas of loopholes some came up with with 'just put it in english' and 'government premises only' but the client is government funded educational establishment which apparently fall very much within the welsh language act.

I'm not even allowed to just put a sign up saying 'Welsh versions available upon request', which was my prefered option, but this breaches the act. <Sigh>

So, I'll abide by the law, even though it's dumb, and even though it may well confuse the communication of important information. Thankfully there are universally recognised pictograms for lots of things.

Thanks for your help.

CdC  
#24 Posted : 26 March 2021 16:27:24(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
CdC

Originally Posted by: Self and Hasty Go to Quoted Post

I got jumped on by the minority and ordered to display all signs and notices in welsh too.

So, I've recieved some of the documents back in the translated vowel-less abomination that is the welsh language, and I have no way of checking that the translator has accurately conveyed all the information in the original English documents, I just have to blindly trust that it's correct. --> another aspect in this which doesn't sit right with me.

Easy remedy to dealing with the vowel-less abomination: Learn the language and develop some sensitivity. 

Why not just ask the native speakers in the workplace about the quality of the translations? And if you employed a reputable translater, then there shouldn't be any issues?

Self and Hasty  
#25 Posted : 26 March 2021 16:35:26(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Self and Hasty

Originally Posted by: CdC Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: Self and Hasty Go to Quoted Post

I got jumped on by the minority and ordered to display all signs and notices in welsh too.

So, I've recieved some of the documents back in the translated vowel-less abomination that is the welsh language, and I have no way of checking that the translator has accurately conveyed all the information in the original English documents, I just have to blindly trust that it's correct. --> another aspect in this which doesn't sit right with me.

Easy remedy to dealing with the vowel-less abomination: Learn the language and develop some sensitivity. 

Why not just ask the native speakers in the workplace about the quality of the translations? And if you employed a reputable translater, then there shouldn't be any issues?

I'm learning Spanish and French, I'm not going to waste my time learning a dead language that only a handful of people speak!

Roundtuit  
#26 Posted : 28 March 2021 16:44:32(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

and of course it is always "do as we say, not as we do" https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-56551696

Once again leading by example!

Roundtuit  
#27 Posted : 28 March 2021 16:44:32(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

and of course it is always "do as we say, not as we do" https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-56551696

Once again leading by example!

Evans38004  
#28 Posted : 29 March 2021 06:58:44(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Evans38004

Mr Self & Hasty

I have decided not to get into a bun fight with you, but I feel that your attitude to the original and oldest language in the nation you call home is pretty old fashioned and very disrespectful.

If you think consider as simple statement for keeping left is too complicated, why not use a pictograms and avoid all words!

Where does it say in the law that the welsh language has to come first – it only has to have equal representation

In your original post – which you entitle “controversial” you stated “… to reiterate, I have nothing against the Welsh, Wales or the Welsh language…”, then in you totally contradict yourself in your two other postings when you describe the Welsh language as a “… vowel-less abomination that is the welsh language…” and furthermore “… I'm not going to waste my time learning a dead language that only a handful of people speak! …”

 

As a fluent Welsh speaker, I can tell you that as long as I speak the language and my daughter do, and the siblings of the 861,700 (*Google) current speakers do – the language is NOT DEAD.

 

As you state “… The two official languages of Wales are English and Welsh…” – instead of being self and lazy, accept that as the legal norm – especially in the organisation you find yourself working in – remember he who pays the piper calls the tune.

When I had international responsibilities for H&S for American companies, the local language / languages took precedence and we could ensure that safety signage coped with local requirements.

I’m not going to bother to discuss your concept of common sense – most of us poo-poo that phrase within this profession.

In a former H&S position, I went to the effort of getting qualifications in translating Welsh so that our employees and customers were provided with a suitable standard of service. If you PM the translations to me, as a H&S professional, I’d be happy to review for you.

I struggle with you preferred option of obtaining signs, notices and instructions in Welsh and then not making these easily available to the workforce and only providing these “… upon request…”

I have many friends that consider aspects of the health and safety law as being “dumb” and confusing (try RIDDOR) – but we still have to comply with the law.

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CdC on 29/03/2021(UTC), stevedm on 30/03/2021(UTC)
achrn  
#29 Posted : 31 March 2021 10:54:06(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
achrn

Without wishing to set anyone off again, I'm curous about the repeated assertion that Welsh is 'vowel-less'.  My understanding of Welsh is that it has more vowels than English - w and y being vowels in Welsh, so actually it has 40% more vowels, not fewer.  Hence, for example, Cwmystwyth has more than enough vowels (and also near my favourite place in Wales).

(Double-U really ought to be a vowel in any langauge, anyway - English-speakers don't look at e.g. 'book', 'school', 'fool' and announce they are vowel-less because they've got a double-O).

Welsh does, I believe, have fewer consonants than English - j, k, and v being absent.

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aud on 01/04/2021(UTC)
A Kurdziel  
#30 Posted : 31 March 2021 12:03:22(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

The Swiss have three official national languages, French, German  and Italian and in the Grisons canton, Romansh is a recognised as an official local language. When it comes to things like signs and the names of national airlines etc to make sure everybody understands and nobody is offended they use English, which all children learn from primary school. They don’t learn any “foreign ” languages (not German, not French, not English, not Romansh, not Italian) until they go to high school.

Probably one of the reasons so many international organizations are based in Switzerland including, the ILO, which sets global standards for health and safety amongst other things.

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stevedm on 06/04/2021(UTC)
biker1  
#31 Posted : 06 April 2021 15:30:16(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
biker1

Originally Posted by: Self and Hasty Go to Quoted Post
.

So, I've recieved some of the documents back in the translated vowel-less abomination that is the welsh language, a

Not the way to win an argument, I would say.

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