Beijing to mix Pinyin, English on signage

This is a real disappointment: Beijing is going to drop full Pinyin on its street signs and replace it with a mixture of Mandarin (in Pinyin) and English. By this I mean that it will have not “Zhongshan Lu” but “Zhongshan Rd.” Thus, it will be following the model of Taiwan, though I doubt anybody there put it that way. Why this is necessary is beyond me. After all, foreigners get by just fine in France with “rue” on street signs instead of “street.” Beijing, however, has decided that “hutong” can stay.

This is being done in the name of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, of course.

I’m glad there’s a move to correct bad and incorrect signage, but this is the wrong way to do it. Bad move, Beijing!

Běijīng yīxiē shèwài fàndiàn, lǚyóu jǐngdiǎn, jiāotōng gànxiàn děng chù de Yīngwén biāozhì cuòwùbǎichū, yǒudeshì fānyì yǔfǎ yǒu cuò, yǒudeshì Yīngwén hé Hànyǔ Pīnyīn hùn yòng, yǒudeshì yìwén zǒuyàng, yǐzhìyú chūxiàn Zhōngguórén kànbudǒng, wàiguórén kànbumíngbai de gāngà júmiàn.

Bùguò, jìzhě jīntiān cóng quánwēi bùmén huòxī, zhè yī gāngà hùnluàn de júmiàn yǒuwàng zài 2008 nián Àoyùnhuì zhīqián zhōngjié.

Běijīng shìmín jiǎng wàiyǔ huódòng zǔwěihuì rénshì tòulù, jīngguò zhēngqiú 30 yú wèi zhuānjiā de; yìjian, 《Běijīng shì dàolù jiāotōng biāozhì Yīngwén yì fǎ yuánzé》jíjiāng chūtái, jiāng jiē, dào, lù míngchēng tǒngyī guīfàn, rú: Běijīng de “jiē” guànyǐ Yīngwén suōxiě “St”, “lù” yì wéi “Rd”, xiǎo jiē, tiáo, xiàng hé jiādào shǐyòng “Alley”. Ér tǐxiàn lǎo Běijīng wénhuà sècǎi de “hútòng” yī cí, jiāng cǎiyòng Hànyǔ Pīnyīn yǔyǐ bǎoliú, yīnwèi tā yǐjing pǔbiàn bèi wàiguórén jiēshòu.

Suízhe guīfàn Yīngwén biāozhì de hūshēng yuèláiyuè gāo, jīnnián Běijīng shì jiāo guǎn bùmén yǐ náchū jǐ qiānwàn zhuānxiàng jīngfèi, yòngyú gēngxīn sān huánlù yǐnèi de jiāotōng shuāngyǔ biāozhì. Jùxī, sān huánlù yǐnèi suǒyǒu yìwén bù tǒngyī, bù guīfàn de dàolù jiāotōng shuāngyǔ biāozhì jiāng yú míngnián Liùyuè qián gēnghuàn wánbì, sān huánlù yǐwài de bù guīfàn Yīngwén jiāotōng biāozhì yě jiāng zài 2007 niándǐ quánbù huànxīn.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

????????????????????????????00??????????

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????“?”??????“St”?“?”??“Rd”????????????“Alley”????????????“??”?????????????????????????????

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????00????????

(Aside: Note the double zeros crammed into one graph: ?00? and ?00?, for 2007 and 2008.)

source: Běijīng Jiāotōng Bùmén yù chìzī shù qiānwàn yuán xiāomiè cuòwù Yīngyǔ biāozhì (?????????????????????), Zhōngguó Xīnwénshè (China News Agency), November 15, 2005.

6 thoughts on “Beijing to mix Pinyin, English on signage

  1. I’m intrigued by the meta-message behind this and stories about how everybody in Beijing is supposed to learn English by 2008, as near as I can tell, it’s something like “Speak Chinese, English or stay the hell away.”

  2. Following the model of Taiwan, or of Shanghai? Shanghai is filled with Rd’s and other Anglicisms, even going so far as to name ??? as Tibet Rd and ????? as Urumqi Rd.

  3. Interesting. Thanks for the information about Shanghai. Do you happen to know how long the street signs there have been that way? In Taipei, “road,” “street,” etc., date back at least a decade, probably a lot more than that.

    I’d love to hear more about the styles of street signs around China. For example:
    Shanghai Rd.
    Shang Hai Rd.
    ShangHai Rd.
    Shang-hai Rd.
    Shang-Hai Rd.
    SHANGHAI RD.
    SHANG HAI RD.
    SHANG-HAI RD.
    etc.

    And are there tone marks?

  4. I’ve never seen tone marks anywhere outside of language textbooks here. You’re usually lucky if the Pinyin’s correctly segmented. The signs I’ve seen here have all been of the form “BEIHAI PARK” / “LIU HAI HUTONG” / “LUOBO XIANG” etc.

  5. Pingback: Pinyin news » more on Beijing’s English and Pinyin signage

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