Guangzhou subway to switch from Pinyin to English-Pinyin mix

Guangzhou’s Metro will be reportedly be changing from Hanyu Pinyin to a mix of English and Pinyin in the naming of its stations. Thus, for example, “Guangzhou Huochezhan” will become “Guangzhou Train Station” (or something like that) and Tiyu Xilu will become Tiyu West Road.

If the official website of the Guangzhou Metro is anything to go by, the Pinyin presently used there is terrible. The official website is infected with the Pinyin-crippling diseases of InTerCaPiTaLiZaTion and FailUreToSePaRateWords. 体育西路, for example, is given not as Tǐyù Xīlù but as TiYuXiLu. Horrible! And, of course, there are some typos too, which make matters even worse, such as TiYuZhongZin for what should be Tǐyù Zhōngxīn.

The last time I was in Guangzhou the subway didn’t exist, so I haven’t seen this signage for myself. Can anyone supply photos of station signage in Guangzhou? I’d also appreciate receiving photos of official Pinyin signage from elsewhere in China. (Photos can be sent to the address on my contact info page.)

And, of course, there’s no word on supplying what ought to be a basic: additional signage in romanized Cantonese.

I have written the authorities there seeking details about the conversion but have not received a reply.

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6 thoughts on “Guangzhou subway to switch from Pinyin to English-Pinyin mix

  1. i always thought the gz subway was one of the best around, almost as good as hk. the signs are all in pinyin and hanzi. also lots of new lines being dug or opening up, easy to use, octopus card like hk, protecting screen doors. the bus timetables are shocking though, bus stops don’t necessarily correspond to street names, there’s no clear indication of where different routes meet for changing busses, but still a good way to get around

  2. Thanks for the comment, Frances. Do you remember what the Pinyin at the stops looks like exactly? Are there extra capital letters (GuangZhou)? No spaces between words (Guangzhouhuochezhan)? Spaces between all of the syllables whether or not they’re words (Guang Zhou Huo Che Zhan)?

  3. Site Admin,
    You mentioned about the problem of extra capitalization in your post, I guess that you might not like what we see in Taipei road signs–something like ChangAn West Road and ZhongXiao East Road. Intercapitalization of Taipei road signs resulted from the policy of relinquishing apostrophes as syllable-separators as Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou decided to use Pinyin as the official Romanization standard. As a native speaker of Mandarin, I think intercapitalization is not a big problem. I would really like to hear your opinion about why intercapitalization is an eyesore to an life-long user of Roman alphabet like you.

  4. No extra caps, I remember that. I’ll be back in Guangzhou tomorrow, so I’ll try to take some pics.

    Frances is right though, they’ve just added two new lines last November and they’re currently expanding them. The new lines have the HK-style protective screens and they’re retrofitting the older lines.

    I don’t remember too many specifics, but the word seperation always ‘makes sense’ to me. I guess as long as I understand it, I don’t pay too much attention to the details. I’ll post more detail when I get back to GZ…

  5. WilLiao:
    You’re quite right that I should write up something on intercapitalization. But I’ll need to devote some time to a separate entry on this alone. The topic is too important to get buried in a comment.

    Great! I would love photos.

  6. Just returned from a one week vacation in Guangzhou. Enjoyed it greatly. Subway, to me is quite new, and on a par with world class systems. I have to return by the 18th of January (from Zhanjiang) to pick up my new passport and I’ll make a point to take photos of all the signs (station,platforms,trains and will email them to you. Perhaps, they will contain something that Kojo, Frances and others have missed.

    Very easy to find your way around. Little to confuse. An especially enjoyable way to get from point A to point B in a heavily populated China city.

    Would recommend to anyone that they take the subway for most of their intra city travels. Chinese speakers/readers or not. I would say the City did a good job with the directions/instructions provided in Chinese and English. I had very little difficulty finding my way and arriving at my destination with minimal confusion and delay.

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