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August 20, 2004 12:01 AM

Broken: (Just for fun) Sign near Victoria Falls

image001-robotTerry Jones writes:

In honor of the recent movie I, Robot, a sign from a bridge near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe:

    Robot Ahead


I saw a magazine ad recently-- can't remember what specifically it was for, other than a company that had a large global presence-- that mentioned this rather unusual difference in dialects. Talk about being separated by a common language!

Posted by: codeman38 at August 20, 2004 12:49 AM

In South Africa (where I grew up) traffic lights are usually referred to as "robots". Obviously the same is true in Zim, and presumably also in Zambia. Malawi and so on.

Posted by: Maynard Handley at August 21, 2004 02:56 AM

Hey! I took a photo of that too!

Posted by: secretGeek at August 25, 2004 03:23 AM

It was an ad for HSBC bank about "the importance of local knowledge".

Posted by: Dan at August 27, 2004 10:33 AM

_@_v - domo-ari-gato mis-ter ro-bo-to, for helping me get through the intersection...

Posted by: she-snailie_@_v at August 27, 2004 11:10 AM

Coming from Zimbabwe, I can safely advise that we call traffic lights robots

Posted by: lucy at August 29, 2004 05:00 PM

Cool! What do you call robots?

Posted by: Matt at August 31, 2004 03:25 PM

This is not broken. Its like calling the British broken because they call the hood of a car a "bonnet". Similarly, on some Carribean islands (I don't know which ones), speed bumps are called "sleeping policemen". Not broken, just foreign.

Posted by: a bum at November 29, 2004 11:49 PM

110% weird, I tell ya...

Posted by: Carly at January 16, 2005 07:53 PM

a bum, et al.: Duh. It's not broken, which is why it's called "Just for fun." I used to date a South African, and she called them robots as well (although now she would probably say stoplight, as she has naturalized here in the USA more than anyone probably cares to admit), and it was funny to me then, and is still funny to me now.

As a tangential side-note, the use of the word "robot" to describe a stoplight is perfectly legitimate, as the term "robot" does not have to imply humanoid appearance or even moving parts; simply "an automated device which performs a repetative task."

Matt: I imagine they call them "robots" just like us, but might pronounce it "roebit". ;-)

Posted by: Brian at March 21, 2005 03:30 PM

When I first arrived in Zim.,I was at a hotel downtown and asked for directions at the front desk to go to the custom office.This dude tells be to go 3 robots south and 2 robots east.I just walked away from him to figure it out on my own.

Posted by: mattmac at July 11, 2005 11:36 PM

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