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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Romanization is dead -- how about Klingon?

Basically, Taiwanese do not care about how Chinese characters are transformed into a latin alphabet, a proces called romanization. How else can this mess be explained? Being helpfull and courtous to overseas visitors as always, they try, but basically it is a very low priority problem. And why bother? If you have even junior high school Chinese you can get around fine.

On the picture, "Jhorg" get about 257 hits in Google, most of them related to a little trol, or a persons name. Candy for those unable to read Chinese, and being able to correctly pronounce it.

Leaving it to academics and politicians has resulted in nearly every single sign post using a different romanized spelling. It depends which political party is in power, over what area (Taipei City, Taipei county, different parties, different spelling), which company (railroad, bus) and what flavor is favored currently (more similar to mainland chinese, as impossibly unique as possible). Each time the dust settles, a new generation of posts is placed, to be changed again before the paint dries.

The purpose of signposting should be that overseas visitors who do not grasp Chinese characters have a fighting change of pointing out where they are, and understand where they are going. These are not academics, so the whole Wade-Gilles thing with apostophes is probably too complicated, but would be a nice touch.

If you stay in Taiwan for more than a little while, memorize the characters and proper pronunciation for your most frequent visited places and your life becomes a lot easier. Ignore the characters at the bottom, these are for decoration only.

Related Links -- this link is endlessly funny if you even remotely understand the problem


Blogger Mark said...

Seeing that sign was nothing less than a moment of perfect beauty. 中 (zhōng) could not possibly be bastardized any more perfectly.

5:37 AM


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