Banqiao’s orificial signage

David, who for just a little while longer lives in the same Banqiao neighborhood as I, sent me a photo of a street sign in our highly populated but little-discussed city.

'Guanciao W. Rd.': streetsign in Banqiao, Taiwan, labeled in misspelled Tongyong Pinyin and English

The sign tells us this is “Guanciao” West Road. In Hanyu Pinyin this would be “Guanqiao.” Guanqiao? The only word in my biggest Mandarin-English dictionary under that spelling is guānqiào (關竅/关窍), which is defined as “orifices on the human body.” Hmm. Taiwan might have the questionable taste of having many a road still named after a dead dictator, but orifices?

This oddity is explained by the fact that Banqiao is simply continuing its tradition of typos — even on relatively new signs. (The style of the sign and the choice of Tongyong Pinyin both indicate this went up within the past few years.)

Guanciao (Guanqiao) should be Guancian. (In Hanyu Pinyin, 館前西路 is written Guǎnqián Xīlù.) It’s worth noting this is not a tiny lane but a road in a well-traveled part of town.

As long as I’m putting up yet another post with photos and doing further damage to my reputation of having one of the Taiwan blogosphere’s fastest-loading, least Turtonesque sites*, I might as well go ahead and add one more so I can mention something else about this sign.

Let’s look at the relative size of the Chinese characters and the alphabetic text. The majority of the letters are but one quarter of the height of the Chinese characters.

sign showing the relative percentages of the height of the letters/Hanzi on the sign

Although in this particular case the lettering might not be too small, this style often leads to nearly illegible romanization, especially on signs posted high above streets.

* Just in terms of the average number photos per post, that is. (But that’s in part because I’m a lousy photographer.) Congratulations, Michael, on reaching two thousand posts!

3 thoughts on “Banqiao’s orificial signage

  1. I will be leaving Banqiao tomorrow for the green hills of Xindian. Initial reconnaissance of Xindian also reveals numerous problems with romanization in that part of Taipei County too.

  2. Pingback: Pinyin news » DPP position on romanization

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