Delaware school’s bilingual sign is threatening in Spanish

People take things the wrong way all the time. Particularly when those things are in another language.

While the English is clear, the Welsh reads:¬†“I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated.” (Via BBC.)

Some mistakes, like the one above, are clearly innocent. However, some misinterpretations are more convoluted. In Milford, Delaware, a school now finds itself in turmoil due to a faulty translation on a playground sign; the district now faces accusations of exclusion, racism, and negligence.

While the sign in English cautioned children to play at their own risk, the sign in Spanish demanded a permit for playground use.

(Photograph by Dan Gaffney and Margaret Engle Reyes)

This picture was taken by Dan Gaffney, a radio talk show host. It isn’t¬†fake. For non-Spanish speakers, here is the translation.

The Spanish translation (left) is very different from the English sign (right).

The superintendent of the school immediately removed the sign after the story broke, claiming she didn’t know it was mistranslated. It’s worth noting, however, that these signs had been posted, without reprisal, for an entire year. Some citizens commented that they had felt threatened and intimidated. Ultimately, it took a radio talk show host with a camera to expose the injustice.

The response has been national. Both locals and the internet community condone the removal of the signs, but puzzle over their origin. Was the exclusion intentional? Why did the signs go unchallenged for an entire year? You can find the article here.

-A. Roitman