Taoyuan International Airport to adopt new style for signs

Taoyuan International Airport (or “Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport” as it is called in Taiwan’s official Chinglish form) will be replacing its signage, adopting a new color scheme and typeface.

Currently, the signs in the airport have a black background and yellow or white letters.

The new signs will be modeled after those in the Hong Kong International Airport, with white letters on a blue background. But signs for facilities such as restrooms and restaurants will have white letters on a dark red background. (Perhaps like these?)

Taiwan will also duplicate Hong Kong’s choice of font face: Fang Song (fǎng-Sòngtǐ / 仿宋體). One of the reasons for this is that some Chinese characters — such as for yuán (園) and guó (國) — appear similar if viewed from a distance, according to the president of the Taoyuan International Airport Corp. “Passengers can clearly see the words on the [new] signs even if they view them from 30 meters away,” he added.

The new signs will start to go up in August, with the change scheduled to be complete by the end of 2012.

I’ve made some samples (which, by the way, contain both 園 and 國) in three typefaces to help illustrate the look of Fang Song. Sorry not to have the right color scheme.

DF Fang Song:
sample of the typeface in three weights, with the text of '台灣桃園國際機場'

DF Kai Sho:
sample of the typeface in three weights, with the text of '台灣桃園國際機場'

DF Ming:
sample of the typeface in three weights, with the text of '台灣桃園國際機場'



font samples:

additional material:

By the way, the contrast between the traditional and simplified versions of the of fǎng-Sòngtǐ (仿宋體 / 仿宋体) is a good illustration that to the untrained eye the conversion from one system to another is not necessarily self apparent.


Feichang nankan!

The sign in the photo below has been up for years; but only recently did I finally get a chance to take a halfway decent photo of it. It’s just outside the second terminal of Taiwan’s main international airport and thus is the first example of road signage that many visitors to Taiwan see.

The atrocious typography displayed in how “Nankan” (南崁/Nánkàn) is written is certainly a good introduction to the chabuduo world of Taiwan’s signage.

Truly nánkàn (ugly)!

a directional sign pointing the way to Nankan -- but 'Nankan' is written with all letters the same height (i.e., the capital 'N' is reduced to the height of the letter 'a' and the 'k' is similarly shrunken)

Chinglish International Airport revisited

I’ve just heard from a well-placed source that the official English name for Taiwan’s main international airport, formerly Chiang Kai-shek International Airport, has been finalized. The form “Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport” will not be used after all. Instead, it will be “Taipei/Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.”


I’m still seeking confirmation.

Chinglish International Airport?

In what many view as a long-overdue move, Taiwan’s government has removed the name of Chiang Kai-shek, the island’s one-time dictator, from the title of the country’s main international airport. What has been reported as the new English name, however, is a bit strained in that the country’s name precedes the county/city name.

  English Pinyin Hanzi
old Chiang Kai-shek International Airport Zhōngzhèng Guójì
new Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Táiwān Táoyuán Guójì

In Mandarin, there’s nothing tremendously odd about using “Taiwan Taoyuan.” In English, however, it’s a completely different story.

exact phrase romanization no. of results in Google
Taoyuan Taiwan   241,000
Taiwan Taoyuan   42,400
臺灣桃園 Taiwan Taoyuan 43,200
台灣桃園 Taiwan Taoyuan 220,000
total for 臺灣桃園
and 台灣桃園
桃園臺灣 Taoyuan Taiwan 5,720
桃園台灣 Taoyuan Taiwan 461
for 桃園臺灣 and 桃園台灣

Almost all of the examples in English of “Taiwan Taoyuan” have punctuation (stronger than a comma, that is) or new lines separating the words, so running the two names together in that order is less common than the Google result implies, as most English speakers know intuitively.

“Taiwan Taoyuan,” when used in English, reminds me of nothing so much as the annoying term “Chinese Taipei” (Zhonghua Taibei / 中華台北). This name represents the international kissing of Beijing’s ass diplomatic solution worked out so Taiwan’s teams can participate in international sporting events without China throwing too much of a hissyfit. (We we still get some of those anyway, of course.)

Since using anything along the lines of “Chinese Taipei” would be anathema to the present administration in Taiwan, what’s going on with the new name for the airport? The logical name would probably be simply “Taoyuan International Airport,” the airport being in Taoyuan County rather than Taipei County. But outside of Taiwan, who has ever heard of Taoyuan? (That’s probably just as well for Taiwan, because much of Taoyuan is downright ugly.) And, anyway, I think that those deciding on the new name regarded adding “Taiwan” and taking out “Chiang Kai-shek” as the top priorities.

Of course, it could be worse. Some in the KMT have called for the name to be changed to “Taiwan Taoyuan Chiang Kai-shek International Airport.” Ugh.

However, the code letters for the airport, TPE and RCTP, will not be changed. These are both rooted in the Wade-Giles romanization system, under which we have Taipei (properly T’ai-pei) rather than Taibei.

Fortunately for all concerned, both “Taoyuan” and “Taiwan” are examples of names spelled the same in most romanization systems. So, at least in this case, the current administration’s attachment to the Tongyong Pinyin romanization system won’t lead to further international embarrassment.

I spoke earlier today with someone at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, who informed me that although the Mandarin name of the airport was now officially Táiwān Táoyuán Guójì Jīchǎng, the English name has yet to be set by the Ministry of Education. So it’s possible the English name could change.

Anyone want to play Name That Airport? I’m more than half serious. The authorities here no doubt need some help with this. (Even though Taoyuan is one of the ugliest places in Taiwan, let’s keep this nice.)

Oh, in case anyone’s puzzled that “Chiang Kai-shek” and “Zhōngzhèng” don’t look much like each other or even have the same number of syllables, the reason is that Zhōngzhèng is a sort of assumed name, not the name by which he was known to his family, which in Mandarin is Ji?ng Jièshí (???). For more on this see the names section of the Wikipedia article on Chiang Kai-shek. (Me linking to a Wikipedia article? There’s a first time for everything, I guess.)