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Unexpected wording in bagging area: Sainsbury’s Welsh signage goes viral

06 Jul 2024 3 minute read
Sign at Sainsbury’s Parc Tawe, Swansea. Image: Sarah Morgan Jones

Stephen Price

Signs at a Welsh Sainsbury’s store have gone viral after eagle-eyed shoppers noticed unexpected Welsh wording in their bagging area – with many mocking the store for thinking they had used the wrong Welsh words.

The Sainsbury’s store, at Parc Tawe Swansea, has been in the bad books of a number of Welsh speakers since an X post appeared highlighting two offending signs featuring translated versions of ‘smaller shops’ and ‘bigger shops’.

Sign at Sainsbury’s Parc Tawe, Swansea. Image: Sarah Morgan Jones

According to Google Translate, and most south Walian dialects, the signs are translated as ‘a little message’ and ‘a lot of message’ – but all is not what it seems, as those quick to take to X have since discovered.

Google’s translation of signs at Sainsbury’s

A number of X users jumped on to the original post from Antwn Owen-Hicks, sharing that other shops such as one in Bridgend also have the signage, with one person describing it as ‘lazy Wenglish’.

Another wrote: “Looks like someone has used an AI prompt “I’d like to to translate a few messages into Welsh”. LLMs can be deceptively precise sometimes…”

One X user, unaware of the thriving Welsh language community in Swansea wrote: “To be fair to them, that store is in an area where (unfortunately) zero Welsh is spoken.

“Signs have probably gone unnoticed for years.”

All is not as it appears

Unbeknown to many of the posters, however, is the fact that ‘neges’ (message) is often used in north Wales as a word for shopping.

Popular Guardian columnist, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, was one of the first to come out in support of the new signage.

Yvonne Jones agreed, saying: “Mam always sent me to get negesau from the shop, maybe it was a Cardi thing.”

Adding further information, many Scottish and Irish X users shared that ‘messages’ was often used as a term for shopping in their homelands, and still is by older generations.

One user posted: “I understand totally, in Ireland, growing up, you went to the shop for messages (Shopping) and you didn’t take a shopping bag, in my home there was a dedicated “message bag”

Being a good sport, the original poster, Antwn, has kept his X post live, saying: “This is, by a long way, my most ‘liked’ and engaged-with tweet! Diolch pawb! Curiously though, zero reply from @sainsburys

So there you have it – unexpected (for some), but certainly not incorrect.

Da iawn, Sainsbury’s – very well played!


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
8 days ago

Firstly, I’d like to thank Sainsbury’s and all the supermarkets in fact for their commitment to Welsh language signage because it’s fabulous to start with but essential in recognising our country and respectful to all of its’ people. My father was Irish and referred to the shopping items as ‘messages’ but until now, I was unaware that this term was used in our language in any part of the country. It’s a beautiful thing.

DotiauSyml
DotiauSyml
8 days ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

That is interesting about the Irish, thank you for that! I well remember “mynd i ‘nol neges o’r siop” from my youth, doesn’t seem so common these days.
Re the supermarket self-service tills, it frustrates me that Welsh isn’t the default, people would soon learn!

CapM
CapM
8 days ago

By not using the 6/10/12 items or less system it looks like Sainsbury’s want to cause customer confusion and generate arguments between customers and between it’s staff and customers about how much shopping comprises a “Bigger shop” and “Smaller shop”.

Instead of struggling to translate the English idioms of Big and small shops they could have ensured equal confusion and conflict for their Welsh speaking customers by using “Mwy o nwyddau” and “Llai o nwyddau”

But “Milgwn” and “”Bolgwn would make for even more entertaining checkouts and help address the obesity crisis.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
8 days ago

Ni welaf fod dim o’i le o gwbl efo’r cyfieithiad. Mae’n reit dda ac yn bur naturiol i’m tyb i. Ymddengys i mi fod y rhai sy’n cwyno yn bobl sy’n meddwl yn Saesneg am bob dim, ac yn synnu nad yw’r arywdd yn dweud ‘siopau llai.’

Ianto
Ianto
8 days ago

It’s a totally natural use of the Welsh language. Da iawn chi Sainsburys.

Riki
Riki
8 days ago

I’m sure it’s just an “accident” and we apologise blah blah blah! This is always done on purpose, I wish our people would stop giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Paddy
Paddy
8 days ago

When I saw it I thought “what a great translation”, and I learned most of my Welsh in the south.

Monica Kendall
Monica Kendall
8 days ago

There’s nothing wrong with either the Welsh or the English. The latter is colloquial; neges is a North Welsh word for groceries.

salty dog
salty dog
7 days ago

Much ado about nothing

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