Taipei’s MRT system, wonderful though it is, continues to find new ways to irritate me. Today I present the case of
台 vs. 臺
Semantically, there is no difference between these two characters. They both represent the tái in Taipei/Taibei and Taiwan. But the 台 form is more common in Taiwan, where it is seen as a variant form and thus not as one of the “simplified” characters used in China.
So why is the MRT’s new airport line using a huge “臺” on its signs when a normal “台” would do just as well? In fact, the regular 台 form is found six times on the same sign, with the fourteen-stroke “臺” seen just once.
To show that this isn’t just a one-off, I’m providing photos of a few more signs in a station along the “purple” (airport) line.
So, in the first sign alone, we have:
- 臺北 (×1),
- 台北 (×4),
- 月台 (yuetai, platform), and
- 台鐵 (×1), for Tai-Tie, Taiwan’s railroad company, and thus any ordinary train line.