Western Railways' warning signs get lost in translation; Marathi stickers ask people to 'not use small balls'

The railways' attempts at asking people to observe security protocol at railway stations backfired after it used Google Translate to convert English messages into Marathi

FP Staff November 23, 2017 10:53:56 IST
Western Railways' warning signs get lost in translation; Marathi stickers ask people to 'not use small balls'

The stampede at Elphistone Road station in Mumbai on 29 September, in which 23 people lost their lives prompted much soul-searching by the authorities and a spate of reforms along the city's suburban railway network.

Areas outside the stations were cleared of hawkers, while security was beefed up on platforms and foot over bridges (FOBs). Signboards were also put up at various points, urging people to follow security protocol, like watching their step and walking in orderly queues.

Except these were messages that were written only in English. And for the benefit of the large Marathi speaking population in the city, the railways used Google Translate. What could have possibly gone wrong?!

Several things, it turns out. As pointed out by users on Twitter, Google does often get translations mixed up.

A report on Hindustan Times said stickers on the FOB steps at Santacruz and Goregaon railway stations read: 'Krupaya lahan chendu gheu naka'. Translated into English, this would read as 'Please do not use small ball', and not what Western Railway originally intended to convey — 'Please do not use short cuts'. Similarly, there were boards that said 'Krupaya ektar bajula theva' and 'Krupaya ek pauool vagalu naka', meaning 'Please keep aside either' and 'Please don't drop a step'. There are also typos like a message that said 'Krupaya handroil dharun theva'.

The Hindu reported that the erroneous signs, which were put up without due verification, have been withdrawn by the railways. Ravindra Bhakar, chief public relations officer, Western Railway, said printing and putting up stickers was outsourced to a private contractor. "We have recalled the warning signs from all the stations. We will check these one by one, after which we shall rectify them. Only then will they will be reinstalled." he was quoted as saying in the report.

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