Monday, April 23, 2012

Did you know... the Welsh word for bin?

This is the start of a new blog series, in which I talk about things I know - or things you might like to know.

I'm calling it "Did you know..."

I should be calling it "Blog posts for when I don't really have anything to say".

So to kick this stellar blog series off...

Did you know...

... that the word "BIN" in Welsh means, well, bin?

I didn't. I lived in a Welsh speaking area of North Wales (hello darling Harlech) when I first left Australia. I was adopted by a beautiful Welsh family (cyfarchion Mev, Benji, Beth, Dafydd) who are fluent Welsh speakers. They kindly and patiently explained to everyone we met that I am Australian, and don't speak Welsh. I tried to pick up Welsh phrases here and there and was very excited when I got to use Welsh correctly. I was always asking for translations. I was a big pain.

The gorgeous Mev worked as the projectionist at the Harlech cinema. (Yes I'm using cinema in its loosest term). Harlech is a tiny village, perched on a cliff overlooking a fantastic, pristine white beach surrounded by dunes covered in gorse. Except where it's covered by depressing golf course. It's had to become a specialist in multi-use. The cinema is also the theatre and so on.

Here was the view from my front door - that's Harlech Castle. (Yes a castle... how excited was I?!)

I saw Cats and Dogs there (remember, Dafydd?). Just before the movie started, I looked around. The cinema was empty. Mev's teenage son Daf and I were the only ones there. Daf had been a real trooper, helping me with Welsh to English translations and being SUPER PATIENT. I was always asking him pesky questions about the meaning of road signs, street signs, shop signs...

So when I saw a sign near the exit that said BIN I naturally asked.

"Daf, does BIN mean EXIT in Welsh?"

He looked at me.

"No. BIN means BIN."

Of course it does. The sign was above (quelle surprise) THE BIN.

Boy did I feel dumb.

Although not as dumb as I felt when I saw a placard by the side of the road and asked where Bouncy Castle was.

Hey there are a lot of castles in Wales, OK? I could see one from my front door.

I'll leave you with some more signs from Wales.

Yes you can only have that traditional Sunday lunch on Sundays. Spoil sports.
Got to love the thoughtful way they put their threatening car park clamping sign over the sign saying what they actually do. Noice customer service folks.

Beware, deer narrowing ahead.
Beware, human giving birth to a deer ahead? Ew. Ewe?
Hwyl x


  1. Love it, Michaela! Remind me to tell you about a sign I read (ans obeyed) near the Forbidden Palace in Beijing... And, like you, I cannot blame the English translation!!!

  2. Oooh Karen yes that sounds intriguing! Saw one in Ireland, professionally made (not hand-painted) saying "Muck On Road". Loved it, didn't get a photo though. xx

  3. You funny, cookie girl. I dont know why but I brought back from Spain a sugar satchel labelled Bonka Ars which we purchased from Liquer Ars. The joys of travel.
    Another enjoyable blog.

  4. Hmmm... when we were in Wales for a wedding, there was a great news story...
    OK - so, all the road signs (with words!) in Wales have to be in Welsh AND English... And there is a service that provides the Welsh translation for your English if you email them the English... Sounds good so far, right??
    So - they sent in the email with the English required... and they got a response - so they got the sign created, set it up... and sat back, because their job was done... right???
    Until it became the latest news story - because everyone sets up their 'Out of Office' message when they go on holidays, right??? So this sign on a major road (no - I can't remember which one...) says 'Next exit - .....' ... and below that 'We are out of the office until .../Nov/2008'.... !!!?!?!??!
    And no one worked out that there were too many words in the Welsh translation - because Welsh speakers are still a minority... :-(

  5. Thanks Sue.
    Kathy, that must have happened in a non-Welsh speaking part of Wales. Everyone in North Wales would have spotted the mistake. Yes Welsh speakers are in the minority overall, but the majority up in the North :-)

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