Chabuduo jiu keyi?

When it comes to signage and much else in Taiwan, the phrase chàbudu? jiù k?y? (??????) might qualify as the country’s unofficial motto. “Close enough for government work” is probably the best idiomatic translation.

The railway-station sign in this photo in many ways exemplifies this.

Hsinchu Jhubei Shiangshan

Rather than list all of the errors and oddities of this sign, I thought I’d let readers have a go at this one. How many errors and problematic points can you find?

18 thoughts on “Chabuduo jiu keyi?

  1. A minor point when compared to the romanisations, but a good example of your pet hate… mixed font sizes and generally TERRIBLE Roman typesetting!

    Particularly good is the way that not only does it mix romanisation systems, it does it for the same character.

  2. X-HS-SH all used!

    Also, J AND Ch used for “Zh” in “Zhu”/Bamboo.

    Impressive. It’s like an attempt to use ALL the initials at once. For people who may have studied Chinese in different places? Viva Taiwan! Or is that Daiwan? Or T’aiwan?

    At least the finals are consistent…

  3. The letter i keeps changing. In Hsinchu it’s normal. In Jhubei it doesn’t have a dot. In Shiangshan the i is too short.

  4. Nice work, everyone. (Extra points to Pawe? for correctly identifying MPS2. And many thanks, Pbice, for the links to other photos.)

    But we’re still not through with this sign. Some errors have yet to be identified. Does anyone want a hint?

  5. I cheated using Google maps, but those towns are not that far apart. The decimal point seems to have been dropped from both distances; they should be 5.8 & 8.1 km.

  6. Right! The distances are much, much less than given. And while I’m mentioning this, the sign should have “km”, not “Km” — and also shouldn’t have these letters be so small, of course.

    That pretty much does it for this sign.

    The thing that amazes me most about it — other than the sheer sloppiness of it — is the inconsistency of the i’s, which Elizabeth identified. That seems like the sort of thing people would have to go out of their way to get wrong. (Similarly, how did that “5” end up off the baseline?)

  7. so what? can you read it? do you know where you will be at the next or previous stop? where’s the problem? you guys worry too much about something that’s just not really up there in the big scheme of things.

    Let’s see your attempts at writing in arabic. pretty piss poor, hey?

    and FDYI, the correct SI units of kilometer are Km, with the large K indicating that it is a multiple of unit greater than 1 (ie, not a fraction like milli or centi). As with Mega M or Giga, G. as for the decimal points: well, agreed, they’re missing, but maybe they fell off.

    written chinese does not need to have a fixed english equivalent… that’s being selfish and anglocentric.

    yay! let the flames begin.

  8. Urodacus, you’re such a nut. But I still love you, man.

    you guys worry too much about something that’s just not really up there in the big scheme of things.

    A lot of things aren’t “really up there in the big scheme of things.” Having capital letters at the beginnings of sentences is probably one. But I still like them.

    This sort of thing is not keeping me up at night, if that’s what you mean.

    Let’s see your attempts at writing in arabic. pretty piss poor, hey?

    Huh? Anyway, in Taiwan there’s nothing in the least bit obscure about the Roman alphabet or standard typesetting.

    Again, a reminder: I’m not making fun of some random hand-lettered sign put up by a farmer in the middle of nowhere who probably never studied English or romanization. These are high-profile, official signs from an agency of a government that makes a point of promoting tourism and boasting of “internationalization.”

    the correct SI units of kilometer are Km, with the large K indicating that it is a multiple of unit greater than 1 (ie, not a fraction like milli or centi)

    You are mistaken. The correct form is km, not Km. Check it yourself if you don’t believe me.

    written chinese does not need to have a fixed english equivalent… that’s being selfish and anglocentric.

    Hsinchu (Xinzhu), Jhubei (Zhubei), and Shiangshan (Xiangshan) are Mandarin, not English. Moreover, the sign breaks Taiwan’s own standards.

    anybody spot the intentional error in my last post yet?

    How, um, are we supposed to know the difference?

  9. Again, a reminder: I’m not making fun of some random hand-lettered sign put up by a farmer in the middle of nowhere who probably never studied English or romanization. These are high-profile, official signs from an agency of a government that makes a point of promoting tourism and boasting of “internationalization.”

    AGREE! This site is no Engrish.com.

  10. You are correct! My intentional error was claimng that the upper case K is used when it is in fact correct to use the lower case k to designate a multiple of ten greater than 1, in this case 3, which goes against the convention of using upper case letters for multipliers greater than 1 and lower case letters for multipliers lower than 1, in SI units.

    I agree with you guys about 90% of the way… but even though there are multiple romanisation sytems in use all over the place, I am actually rather happy to have ANY kind of pinyin to help the non-Chinese literate to get by. At least they’re trying, but they do have some way to go. It even makes for interesting party chatter…

    Cha Bu Duo

    I love this Taiwan chaos.

  11. I think we should consider the English romanization chosen by each municipality, Taipei city uses Hanyu Pinyin, while Taipei County uses Tongyong Pinyin. Hsinchu, Taichung and Kaohsiung use Wade-Giles, I know some places use MPS2 and the rest.. well I really don’t know what they use…

    Sinjhuang, Sin Jhuang, Xinzhuang, Hsinchuang, Hsin Chuang, Sinchuang

    BTW, the first pic Pbice point before, has lots of errors too… I took it long ago

  12. This is terrible. I am a Taiwan native living in Taiwan and I know that place name romanization in Taiwan is a mess.
    I don’t care which system they use; it’d be acceptable for me now even if they decided on that Wade-Giles, or came to spell it by zhuyin.
    Just have a unified spelling and be done with it. How are people supposed to find a place that’s not too famous if they know practically nothing about Chinese?
    And I’d be interested to know how you guys would try pronouncing that “hs” thing……

  13. Pingback: Pinyin news » Penghu street signs

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