Saturday, April 08, 2006

Correct English in Taipei -- and Get a Free Hat!

The Taipei Times announced a new policy to improve the Anglais in the capital. Get yourself a free cap!

Taipei invites public to join war on bad English

The Taipei City Transportation Department is declaring war on bad English.

In an effort to create an "English-friendly" environment in Taipei, the department is inviting people to correct mistakes or poor use of English on the city's street signs and in official publications.

The English error-finding activity is the latest in a series of events designed to promote public participation in the city government's English program.

The department said that the activity was directed primarily at the English content of bilingual signs, including street signs and the various information plaques at the city's major attractions.

Residents are encouraged to find spelling mistakes, incorrect word choices, errors in word order, incorrect translations or grammatical blunders in the signs.


Participants can submit their findings by filling out a form on the department's Web site and sending their findings by e-mail, fax or post to the department.

The form, dubbed "Identifying Errors in English of Traffic Engineering Office Publications," is available at the department's Web site (here). The Web site contains detailed instructions in Chinese and English.

People who spot three or more English errors between now and June 30 will receive awards from the department, ranging from knapsacks to official Traffic Engineering Office hats.

Here is a definite never-ending struggle. Just imagine the UK speakers (speaking the Beta version of English) and US speakers (speaking the successful commercial version) correcting each other -- "Hey!, there's no 'u' in labor." "Damned colonial!" "The sign says 'the government is not aware....'" "No, that should say 'the government dinna ken....'" How will the Taipei government handle that? Who will make the judgments?

Maybe we should import some speakers of Indian English to be the judges. We can air-dash them here....


Anonymous said...

I hope they don't change the "Taipei Temporary Art Gallery"

STOP_George said...

I wonder if English translations of Chinese city names counts?


"Keelung" which, when pronounced "Keelung" will give you strange puzzled looks.

Jason said...

I think they got this idea from China, which instituted such a program in the run-up to the decision on who got to hold the 2008 Olympics.

Maybe this will drive a stake through the "Taiwan Touch Your Heart" abomination once and for all....

Anonymous said...

I really hope this doesn't happen in Taichung. I think the Feng Jia Business District public toilets may well be one of the translated to English placenames in all of Taiwan. It may end up in adiminutive form.

I think I saw this on TTV or some other local channels chinese news last night. The report focused mainly on a sign saying "Lightning struck carefully" in English.

Anonymous said...

When I was in TW for 3 mths, I was actually confused by the road signs as some were in english, while some were in Pinyin which were translated from chinese or min nan yu. But that is what makes me love taiwan, "messy" in its unique way:)

Anonymous said...

Not even middle America has places with names like Alien and Putz... hands off!