A notice outside the University building bears transcriptions in both classical languages, Latin and Ancient Greek, warning that cycles will be ‘removed or destroyed.
Cambridge University classicists may not seem like typical rule-breakers. But the owners of this building were seemingly so perturbed by the number of bikes left chained to the railings by students that they have erected an angry sign in ancient Greek and Latin.
The notice outside the University building in Portugal Place bears transcriptions in both classical languages warning that cycles will be ‘removed or destroyed.’
However it seems the sign-writer could benefit from some further tutoring. Despite appearing to be the work of a well-educated individual, critics have pointed out that there are a number of mistakes in the wording.
Selwyn College classics lecturer Dr Rupert Thompson said: "It's trying to say, 'bicycles left here will be destroyed'."
"The second word, 'ΛΗΦΘΕΝΤΕΣ', actually means 'taken' not 'left'," he said.
"I don't know what to make of it really, but it's very amusing and it's absolutely great to see this in the city.”
Classicist Prof Mary Beard, from Newnham College, said the Latin – DUAE ROTAE HIC RELICTAE PERIMENTUR - is correct, and translates literally as ‘two wheels left abandoned here will be removed.’
Yet students claimed the sign was pompous, elitist and patronising and said it had clearly not worked, as a bicycle could be seen chained to the railings in defiance, or perhaps ignorance, of the message.
"I feel tempted to add some Anglo-Saxon graffiti,” said one student.
Others warned that the Greek was misspelled and said that English letters had ‘crept in’ to the sign.
The original pictured was taken by Twitter user Dotty McLeod who said it was ‘the most Cambridge thing I’ve ever see.’
The sign is on a building belonging to Cambridge University which is behind a former Greek Orthodox church. Nobody from the university knew when the sign had been erected, or who had placed it there. However it appeared to have been professionally embossed and securely fastened to the railings.
It is not the first time that mistranslation has tripped up sign writers.
Swansea Council were left red faced after printing half a ‘no-entry’ sign in Welsh only to find it translated as “I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated...”
Welsh language problems also befell roadwork signs in Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan which ominously warned of the "return of bladder disease" when they intended to invite cyclists to dismount.
Likewise Tesco in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, mistakenly offered to "bake the disabled".
Last year Oxford Country Council was criticised for erecting a sign which warned that roadworks would continue until ‘Septerember’
Zoe Blackman, who spotted the mistake, said: “It could be a salacious poke at the Oxford University educational standards within the city.”
The same council has come under fire previously for writing ‘schoul’ outside Wolvercote Primary.
Westminster Council has previously published a list of mis-spelled signs many of which had to be replaced because of apostrophe errors.
They include Bishops Bridge Road, which should have been written as Bishop's Bridge Road; Lord Hill's Bridge, which should be Lord Hills Bridge and Kings Scholars Passage, which should be King's Scholars' Passage.
Hampshire County Council was also criticised in March after erecting a sign to Jane Austen’s house with the spelling ‘Austin.’