Signage content: Whose responsibility is it anyway?
What do you think?
POST A COMMENT
By Morwenna Kearns
3 November 2010
This translation misunderstanding has been an internet favourite for some time, but raises a serious issue
There has been a television advert recently showing a contractor pasting up the sheets of a billboard, advertising a car. When he reaches the final sheet – displaying the price which we are to accept is surprisingly low – he assumes it is incorrect and phones his base to complain about the mistake.
This commercial, while amusing, does bring about the issue of the level of responsibility which the sign-maker or contractor holds for ensuring displays' content is correct – or even morally acceptable.
One of the most infamous examples of signage errors is the 'No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only' sign that features a Welsh 'translation' which actually gives the sage advice: "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated." It regularly crops up on BBC.co.uk's Most Popular list and is said to have amused Welsh speakers in its locale of Swansea, but it highlights what this type of mistake does to the cost of the project, and to the reputation of the sign-maker.
According to the news report, the council accepted responsibility for the translation error and therefore, presumably, the cost of replacing the sign, but there are other slips or oversights which have to be admitted by the sign-maker or printer – the wrong materials, for example. Fortunately for our industry, the age of computers has minimised errors such as misspellings, and those which do come about are more likely to be the responsibility of the client. Essentially, whoever prepares and/or approves the drawings is at fault, and with many confirmations these days carried out via email – therefore in writing – sign companies are better covered.
Errors aside, some sign and print firms may have to make judgement calls on how their work will be received, and whether their own moral standings will be compromised. English cricket fans may have been understandably unhappy at the sight of what the BBC described as a 'taunting slogan' with images of Australian cricketers Ricky Ponting and Michael Clark projected onto Big Ben recently, but for people with strong religious or political leanings this kind of sports stunt is a drop in the ocean.
In the run-up to this year's general election I remember some discussions on how printers, designers and sign contractors would react to commissions to produce billboards and the like supporting a political party which they, themselves, did not favour. Where do service providers stand in terms of political alliance, and if the job is deemed inappropriate, is it good practice to refuse the job? With cheaper digital technology making in-house printrooms more feasible, fewer independent companies may have to make these decisions, but related workers may still have to ask themselves what a job is worth.
Comments in chronological order (Total 0 comments)
There are no comments yet for this article.