Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, a major gateway for visitors to the London 2012 Olympic Park (Reuters)
The Westfield shopping centre in Stratford is located next to the Olympic athletes' village. To greet these international champions to this orgy of commerce, Westfield placed welcome banners in different languages throughout the complex and on staff members' uniforms.
For example, when Arabic athletes and tourists entered the mall, they were saluted with banners that read "N O D N O L O T E M O C L E W" in their native language.
Which is, in fact, gibberish; they're supposed to read "WELCOME TO LONDON." Rather than, you know, act as an Arabic eye chart.
Westfield said on Thursday that it "sincerely apologises for the incorrect printing of the welcome material," and that the banners and employee uniforms have since been reprinted correctly. But that might be too late for the Council of Advancing Arab-British Relations, which is getting a bit of a complex about the mounting cultural gaffes at the London Games.
From the Guardian: The organisation's Chris Doyle said: "It beggars belief they cannot even write 'welcome' in Arabic. What will our Olympic guests be thinking? It is cringe-worthy."
The Westfield error follows the rail operator First Capital Connect displaying information signs in back-to-front Arabic, until it was pointed out and corrected at 78 stations. "After First Capital Connect and now Westfield, we must start to wonder just how many other Arabic signs printed for the Olympics are nonsensical," said Doyle.
Doyle believes that "translation software" was used to mangle the messages in Arabic. Are you telling us there wasn't a single Rosetta Stone kiosk in London's biggest shopping mall?
Greg Wyshynski, Yahoo! Sports
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