Here’s something I’m sure others here will have seen (and I know our Cymraeg-speaking friends have probably seen it far more often) — just wanting to have a bit of a groan here, if no-one minds.
I was in Kernow this past week for the annual Cornish Language Weekend and couldn’t help noticing that Kernewek (Cornish) seems to be becoming more and more visible, however gradually. Quite a number of pubs and shops have at least a line of Kernewek (and often more) somewhere in their signage. There’s no money or other great commercial gain to be made out of featuring the language, so I can only conclude business owners are doing this because they genuinely care about Kernewek to some extent and believe that promoting it, even just a little, is a good idea, which is wonderful to see. Even if they do sometimes get it, well, a bit wrong.
For example, I ate one evening last week at a fish and chip shop in Lanivet called the Welcome Stranger (do they realise that’s a name with an Australian connection? ), where there was a sign on the door declaring “Welcome to the Welcome Stranger — Dynnergh dhe’n Dynnergh Stranjer.”
Er, um, nice try, but where do I begin (and I can pick this up even as a relatively new speaker)…
“Dynnergh dhe " as “welcome to " is a bad calque on English. The conventional way of saying it in Kernewek is " a’gas dynnergh” — " welcomes you.” (Actually, since the verb technically means “to give greetings to”, “dynnergh dhe’n [Welcome Stranger]” literally means “greetings to the Welcome Stranger”, which is not what they’re wanting to say.)
“Dynnergh” (“dynnerghi” in dictionary form) is the verb meaning “to welcome”, but it doesn’t double as an adjective like “welcome” does in English. If you want to describe someone or something as “welcome”, you’d use “wolkomm” (a well-established borrowing from English).
“Stranger” in Kernewek is “estren”, not “stranjer”. You can’t translate English into Kernewek just by spelling an English word phonetically to make it “look” Cornish!!
And on top of all that, even if the adjective and the noun in “Dynnergh Stranjer” were right — which neither is — they’re the wrong way around. In Kernewek, adjectives (with a handful of exceptions) come AFTER nouns!!
In short, what the sign should have said is: “An Estren Wolkomm a’gas dynnergh.” There is actually a Cornish Language Office that could have told them that if they’d written in to ask “How can I write ‘Welcome to the Welcome Stranger’ in Cornish?”, instead of making it all up themselves. But to be fair, at least they cared enough to try — bad Kernewek is better than no Kernewek at all — and the fish and chips were pretty good.
Right, now that’s off my chest… does anyone else have a similar experience to share?