Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Pointing the Way

A report into bilingual road signs in the Highlands has concluded that they pose no risk to driver safety:

"Analysis of accident data in Scotland [found] no evidence that accidents increased or decreased as a result of bilingual sign installation."

Bilingual signs have been around in the Republic of Ireland for decades, and some may wonder why the study was even commissioned. All the same, the Highland signs, as a relevant UK analogue, may be relevant to consideration of the question in Northern Ireland.

Those familiar with the Goidelic languages will know that owing to phonological developments and a twentieth-century spelling reform in Ireland, Scottish Gaelic names, although similar to their Irish cognates, are usually longer — meaning that, if Scottish Gaelic is safe to have on signs, Irish may be even safer.

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