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Monday, July 17, 2006

Multilingual London Underground?

How many languages should the Tube cater for?

I'm off to Paris tomorrow evening and whenever I go to another major city I'm always shamed that London in general has so few multi-lingual signs around. With my limited knowledge of French I still find enough signs in English to negotiate Le Métro. The Tube's a confusing enough place at the best of times but most non English speaking tourists must struggle finding their way, so no wonder they sheepishly follow the crowds.

So I was really surprised to see a random sign in English and Italian at Warwick Avenue on Saturday.
Neil & I were heading off to Little Venice and we were greeted with bi-lingual instructions on how to find it:

Warwick Avenue Italian Sign

This puzzled me. Neil thinks that lots of Italians live in Maida Vale hence the sign - but then surely they would know how to find Little Venice anyway. If that was the case why not have bi-lingual signs on other parts of the Tube network if many people of a particular nationality live there?

The only other place that I've seen bi-lingual signs on the Tube is at Waterloo when people are arriving from Eurostar.

Waterloo Sign

Southall apparently is the only station in England which has a bi-lingual station name sign. Even the Tube's website has the map translated into 12 other languages including Vietnamese, Urdu, Panjabi, Greek, Spanish, Hindi, French, Gurjarati and Chinese (although not Italian). There's no translations of the station names themselves, only the keys to symbols and explanations of partial closures.

Has anyone else seen any other bi-lingual signs on the Tube? Or do you have an explanation as to why the Italians are catered for at Warwick Avenue? Perhaps it's down to very vocal residents or some bi-lingual station staff or just a tribute to the winners of the World Cup!

; Posted by Annie Mole Monday, July 17, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE