more on Beijing’s English and Pinyin signage

The plan to mix Pinyin and English on signage in Beijing is now official.

Orientations in road names should be in English, such as “MAIJIAPU East Rd.” This is unless it is part of the actual name, like “BEIWEI Rd.” [The “bei” in Beiwei means “north.”] However, road names starting with orientations should have them in initials only, for example, “E. CHANG’AN Ave.”

This regulation is the first part of a campaign to standardize English translations on public signs in Beijing. The campaign will extend to all tourist spots, commercial and cultural facilities, museums, subways, sports centers and hospitals in the city, the report said.

The use of “avenue” will be restricted for the time being to Chang’an Ave., Ping’an Ave, and Liangguang Ave.

A few terms will go untranslated: hutong (alley), li (lane), qu (district), and yuan (garden). Such terms are viewed as embodying Beijing’s culture (tǐxiàn Běijīng chéngshì wénhuà tèsè); the articles didn’t mention, however, that hutong is a loan word from Mongolian.

A few old standards will remain. “Tsinghua University” will remain as such; but road signs will read, for example, Qinghua South Rd.


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