As most readers of this site know, Taiwan has approached romanization and signage with a sloppiness that sometimes beggars belief. Although the situation has improved somewhat this decade, many errors remain. And even where there are not errors, people still must often contend with a variety of romanization systems.
I made the list more than a year ago but put it on another website and never drew much attention to it. Now I’ve moved it here to Pinyin Info, where it may do more good.
The list, which is arranged by county and then by city, gives Chinese characters, Hanyu Pinyin (both with and without tone marks), Tongyong Pinyin (ugh!), and a commonly seen older form (usually bastardized Wade-Giles).
I have not bothered to include MPS2, because it is seen more on street signs than on maps. And, anyway, it’s on its way out. I strongly recommend using Hanyu Pinyin.
According to a CNA story in the Taipei Times, the Gaoxiong/Kaohsiung City Government has decided to “correct and update all English translations of signage at 132 scenic spots” in preparation for the city’s hosting of the World Games in 2009.
A “group of specialists” from an ESL magazine are the chief advisers to the city government, which I suppose is better than just one randomly selected foreigner. Still, I wonder what these “specialists” know about signage — or romanization, for that matter. And will anyone check to ensure the signs are made correctly?
Deputy Mayor Cheng Wen-lung (???), who is convener of a city committee formed to develop Kaohsiung’s English living environment, said yesterday that in addition to the changes, the committee was considering standardizing the English translations of food names in the area as a way to help foreign athletes — as well as the large number of foreign visitors who are expected at the upcoming World Games — recognize Chinese and local cuisines.
The city plans to update English translations on all of the city’s key signage within one month.