Occasionally, there's a slightly bizarre situation where a train journey that is wholly within England (e.g. https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/service/gb-nr:L98417/2023-09-17/detailed#allox_id=0) has bilingual Welsh and English announcements because it's operated by Transport for Wales. Are there any other examples of public transport announcements made in a language that isn't (officially) spoken in that country?

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    There are of course a whole lot of train companies, which do their announcements in English, although English is not an official language in the operating country. Sep 17 at 17:29
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    – Willeke
    Sep 20 at 4:22

6 Answers 6


It is quite common wherever (most) announcements are automated, though with quite a few variations.

On some TGV Duplex trainsets operating in the Grand Est region of France, use of German is not uncommon, even on trains which do not even approach Germany or any other German-speaking territory (like Paris-Reims). It may involve just displays or also audio announcements.

English is quite frequent as well, but again (with the odd exception) nearly always only in automated announcements.

Even in the Paris Metro, announcements in English, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and/or (I think) Mandarin do happen, especially the “there may be pickpockets operating, beware!” messages, and the odd “platform is on the left” when approaching Gare de Lyon on line 14.

Of course if you get into trains which cross language boundaries, then it is normal to hear multiple languages (which may be spoken by the same or different employees). Swiss train conductors probably lead the race, by far.

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    Some Dutch train staff do well as well, with German, English and French besides their Dutch, with sometimes Frisian or a local language/dialect thrown in as an extra.
    – Willeke
    Sep 17 at 20:14

One similar example I can think of is Cantonese PA in Shenzhen public transportation. While SZ is in Guangdong, Cantonese is only a minor dialect in that city, and is not an official language.

But every bus and subway train I've taken in SZ has announcements in Mandarin, Cantonese, and slightly weird English (not on buses though), not an official language either.


In Jakarta, Indonesia, the BRT and MRT announces the route and stops in Indonesian and English. The trips are entirely inside Indonesia (the nearest border isn't even on the same island), and English isn't officially spoken, with low proficiency.

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This even happens in the United States: for example, San Diego Trolley announcements are made in Spanish as well as in English.

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    Of course neither of those are an "official" language of the USA since there isn't one. Ditto for English in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland in the UK. Of course de jure and de facto are different things.
    – origimbo
    Sep 19 at 9:00

In Finistère, Brittany, France, the Breton language is spoken by 15% of inhabitants of the département.

Road signs are all billingual and if you hop on Brest's tram, you will hear announcement in Breton at some stations

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    But the question asks if announcements on transport are made outside of the region where an official language is spoken, although it's slightly confused by saying 'country' instead of 'region'. Moreover Wikipedia states "Breton is the only living Celtic language that is not recognized by a national government as an official or regional language. ". Sep 17 at 21:31
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    Welsh inhabitants would complain about Wales being considered a "region" rather than country :)
    – ChrisW
    Sep 18 at 8:36
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    @ChrisW immigrants to the UK can meet the language requirement by demonstrating proficiency in English or Welsh, but only those two languages, regardless of where they live.
    – phoog
    Sep 18 at 23:25

I rode Le Frecce in Italy several times, and announcements were made always in Italian and English. The latter is not an official language of Italy.

I now ride the Boston T frequently, and sometimes hear announcements like: "Para hacer espacio para otros pasajeros y acelerar el embarque, por favor, quítense la mochila y manténganla a su lado." But the announcements for next station, &c. are given only in English. But if we're not limiting ourselves to audio announcements, you can find posters about service disruptions in a wide variety of languages, including Portuguese, French, Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, Arabic, Amharic, and Mandarin (both traditional and simplified).

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