stret-sgn

I don’t bother with typos much, but this street sign stood out enough that I wanted to share it with everyone. I took this photo last weekend in Jiaoxi, Yilan County, a town on Taiwan’s east coast that is known for its hot springs (w?nquán). (Nice hiking there, too.) Taiwan’s official signage used to be rife with just this sort of sloppiness; the situation has improved somewhat this decade.

street sign reading '??? Tng-wi Rd.'

This should be “Tangwei St.” (T?ngwéi Ji?), not “Tng-wi Rd.”

I don’t know how old that sign is. Perhaps it dates from the MPS2 era. I saw only a few more street signs in Jiaoxi, and they were in Tongyong Pinyin, such as this one for what in Hanyu Pinyin would be W?nquán Lù (Wenquan Road /???)

two steet signs atop one pole: one reading 'To Train Station', the other 'Wuncyuan Rd'
The strokes in the roman letters are a bit too thin for this sort of use.

10 thoughts on “stret-sgn

  1. I imagine that somewhere along the line a font lacked the a+macron and e+acute accents. Even DimSum (mandarintools.com) can get thrown by this occasionally.

  2. This is most likely a romanization based on Taiyu, not Mandarin. Of course, there’s always the chance that it could be an extra bastardized form of some obscure Mandarin romanization, with some spelling mistakes, but it fits the Taiwanese Peh-oe-ji pretty well.

  3. Matt: Could be. But tone marks on official signs in Taiwan are extremely rare. I can recall seeing only one example; and even that has since been changed to a sign without tone marks.

    Fuyindefu & Paul: Perhaps you’re right that it’s meant to be in Hoklo. But I didn’t see any other signs there indicative of this. (Of course, I didn’t see all that many signs, in part because my long-suffering wife made it clear she would rather spend our weekend away hiking in the mountains than wandering through alleys looking for more odd signage.) And the fact that it’s not only misspelled — regardless of the system and language — but also has “Rd.” for “St.” doesn’t instill confidence in the abilities of those who came up with this. On the other hand, northeastern Taiwan, which is where Jiaoxi is located, does have some signs in Taiwanese, such as some old ones in Jilong (Keelung). And I’ve heard that Su’ao has its signage in Hoklo; but I haven’t been able to confirm this.

  4. I’m curious about the technical difference between “jie” and “lu” and the technical difference between “road” and “street”. I’ve seen either used as a translation for either.

  5. The standard in Taiwan is for a lu to be bigger / more important than a jie. Practices in the United States, at least, don’t seem to follow this pattern, so I’m not sure where it came from. IIRC, Beijing isn’t like this either.

    But given how chabuduo Taiwan can be about signage, the practice of using road for lu and street for jie is remarkably consistent.

    It’s an interesting question, though. Perhaps some readers in China can comment on patterns in their cities.

  6. It seemed to me in Beijing that “jie” and “lu” corresponded pretty well to the “street” and “road” of English in that streets within the old city walls would mostly have been “jies” and outside mostly “lus”. There were a lot of exceptions though, and I didn’t exactly do a survey. The best example I can think is Jianguomenwai Dajie eventually changing into Jianguo Lu, though this change only happens past the Third Ring.
    It would be interesting to see some sort of study on this, since the usage in Taiwan seems quite different from that in Beijing.

  7. While I’d like to see romanization in all signs in Taiwan to be consistent, I can’t imagine such mistakes to affect the great majority of the Taiwanese population though.

    Now if a typo was made on the HANZI then it’d be a different story ;)

  8. Weili- They don’t effect Taiwanese people directly, but they could effect Taiwan’s appeal to foreigners as a business and tourism destination. Poor signage is one of the most annoying things about Taipei, and one of the few things done better in China. I’m not sure how I would get around if I couldn’t read characters. I can’t imagine it would be easy for anyone who can’t.

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