In the push for Guangzhou to revamp its street signs, it appears the initial move for all general terms to be translated into English — e.g., lù as road — has been overturned. I’m pleased. Thus, Guangzhou’s street signs will be written differently than those in Beijing and many other cities in China.
Of course, I’d be more pleased if, say, ??? were rendered as Baahk-wahn Louh (or however that should be spelled in Cantonese) instead of or in addition to Báiyún Lù. Fat chance of that happening, though. And, anyway, the ratio for stories that please me vs. those that really piss me off is not nearly what I’d like it to be, so at least today I’ll take what I can get.
Some excerpts from stories on this topic:
No, it is not “street,” nor “road”. It is simply lu.
The English translation for signs in Guangzhou will be based on Mandarin pronunciation with pinyin spelling and come into effect from May 1, the city government said.
This means busy Beijing Road will be translated as Beijinglu and east Dongfeng Road will be known as Dongfeng Donglu. Lu means road or street in English.
I really hope that “Beijinglu” is just a typo. It should be Beijing Lu / B?ij?ng Lù.
From a Mandarin-language story:
Zài “g?nggòng bi?ozhì Y?ngwén yì f?gu? fàn” zuìch? de c?og?o xiàng shèhuì zh?ngqiú yìjiàn shí, ji?ng “lù” hé “dàdào” f?nyì chéng Y?ngy? d?ncí Road, Avenue. Zuórì g?ngbù de “g?nggòng bi?ozhì Y?ngwén yì f?gu? fàn” dìngg?o zh?ng, cóng “dàdào” dào “lù” dào “xiàng”, “l?”, “ji?” d?ng, y?l? zhíji? yòng Hàny? P?ny?n jìnxíng bi?ozhù. Dànshì xi?ngyìng de, “qiáo”, “lìji?oqiáo”, “g?nglù”, “suìdào” d?ng ji?ot?ng shèsh?, “gu?fàn” zé míngquè gu?dìng sh?yòng yìyì, rú “Gu?ngzh?u Dà Qiáo” yì wéi Guangzhou Bridge, “Gu?ngshàn G?nglù” yìchéng Guangshan Highway.
Note the translation (which, however, won’t be used) of dàdào as “avenue.” In Taiwan, this is rendered as “boulevard.”
OK, being pleased was nice while it lasted. Now, unfortunately, it’s time to go back to being pissed off. It takes real chutzpah to bring up a U.N. resolution that backs native languages in support of putting Mandarin on signs in a Cantonese-speaking region.
A resolution made by the UN in 1967 stipulated all the English translations of place names in each country and region should be based on its mother language. The State Council issued a plan to standardize place names in 1986, stipulating all public names should be based in pinyin.
Or, as a Mandarin-language article puts it in greater detail:
Zh?ng y?oqiú duì shìzhèng dàolù de f?nyì c?iq? p?ny?n zhíyì de f?ngshì, shì y?u jù k?chá de. 1967 nián dì-èr jiè Liánhéguó dìmíng bi?ozh?nhuà huìyì zuòch? juéyì, y?oqiú gèguó guójì ji?ow?ng zh?ng d?u sh?yòng Luóm? (L?d?ng) zìm? p?nxi?, m?i ge dìmíng zh?y?u y? zh?ng Luóm? zìm? de p?nxi? xíngshì, jí “d?ny? Luóm?huà”. Y?nc?, “báiyún lù” jiùyào yì wéi Baiyun Lu, ér bù shì Baiyun Road, y?nwèi hòuzh? shì li?ng zh?ng bùtóng de Luóm? zìm? p?nxi? xíngshì, bùfú “d?ny? huà”. 1977 nián, dì-s?n jiè Liánhéguó dìmíng bi?ozh?nhuà huìyì shàng, t?ngguòle Zh?ngguó tích? de c?iyòng Hàny? P?ny?n F?ng’àn zuòwéi Zh?ngguó dìmíng Luóm? zìm? p?nxi?f? de guójì bi?ozh?n. 1986 nián Guówùyuàn b?nbù “dìmíng gu?nl? tiáolì”, gu?dìng Zh?ngguó dìmíng de Luóm? zìm? p?nxi?, y? “Hàny? P?ny?n F?ng’àn” zuò t?ngy? gu?fàn. Y?nc? “báiyún lù” y? bùnéng yì wéi White Cloud Road, y?nwèi bù fúhé “Hàny? P?ny?n F?ng’àn”. Su?y?, sh?yòng Hàny? P?ny?n zuòwéi Zh?ngguó dìmíng p?nxi? gu?fàn, bùj?n wèi w?men f?l? f?gu? su? gu?dìng, y?d?i dàoli?o guójì shàng de rènk?.
Well, I suppose those could be separate instances of subversive irony; but my money is still on deeply offensive and clueless chutzpah. Or doublespeak. Take your pick.
- English a sign of the times, China Daily, April 14, 2009
- Dìmíng f?nyì hùnluàn — Gu?ngd?ng sh?ng zhìji?n jú ch?tái gu?fàn (?????? ??????????), April 10, 2009