English Street Names Reasonable or Not?


I’m not going to go deep into research on my opinion about giving English Street names to Taiwan streets. I want to discuss this cuz I really think this is weird reasoning. On one had Taipei is trying to become internationalized, but what does giving street names secondary English names do to help it? There are hundreds of Chinese streets, alley, roads that have not been given an English name. And will taxis actually know these English names or do you have to hand over a map to them with both the English name and Chinese name so they can corrolate the names? I think making a city internationalized is making your own unique identity accessible and friendly to a foreigner. I would say this is more like a loss of identity to create English street names for the sake of a foreigners who visit another country. Tell me, who here has seen 2 names of different languages for the same street in New York City, an international city. Not I. If you want to say literally rename the entire street to english, well, that is the city’s choice, but to give it a second name is meaningless. Hm…I think I’m starting to ramble. Hope to get some input on this. PRO and CON.


I’m not quite sure what you mean by “English names.” There is no plan that I know of to give all the streets other names. There are only a few Taipei streets with real English names: Roosevelt Rd., and Civic Blvd. Roosevelt is, of course, a personal name and therefore not even specifically English; and Civic Blvd. doesn’t seem so special that it needs a translated name rather than a romanized one. There’s also Ketagelan Blvd., which is something of a mystery to me. (What is the correct pronunciation of this supposed to be? The pinyin for the characters of this street would be Kaidagelan, which is considerably different. Somewhere there’s a problem. Is it in the Chinese or the romanization? Perhaps both.)

Or are you referring to the stupid, useless “nicknumbering” system for the main roads of Taipei? www.romanization.com/streets/nicknumbers.html (There are a few misspellings I haven’t added to the list yet.) This is very much like what you described: second, meaningless names for streets.


The Ketagelan people were the aboriginal inhabitants of the Taipei basin, later pushed out by Han settlers and the romanization comes I guess from their word. Chen Shui-bian as Taipei mayor had the name of the street named after them when he was mayor.
Before that it was Jie Shou Avenue, named in celebration of Chiang Kai-shek’s longevity. Chen was obviously raising the banner of Taiwan consciousness; he chose to plant it on the road that leads from the presidential office to CKS memorial.


I’m also not sure what you mean by “English” names. Do you mean “South Capitol Road” instead of Nanjing Road, and “Peace Road” instead of Heping Road? If that’s what you mean, I, too am unaware of any such plan.

Likewise, if you’re referring to the stupid numbering system, join the club. There are several problems with the system, one of them being that it isn’t very precise. If one were to ask a taxi driver to take one to the corner of 6th Boulevard and 9th Avenue, assuming the driver would even be able to understand, the way the new routes are named, one could find oneself at either the corner of HsinSheng South Road and PaTe Rd. Section 1, or just as easily be dropped off at the corner of SongJiang Road and ChangAn East Road Section 2. This is supposed to make things clearer?

Second, this poorly thought-out plan was rather unilateral in its conception. No native speakers of English were consulted. I can’t even imagine naming the streets of an overseas Chinatown without consulting native Chinese speakers. That is what has been done here. Neither Tokyo, Paris, Berlin or Beijing have given their streets alternative names for the benefit of foreigners, and yet foreigners can successfully navigate Japan, Europe and even China.

Now, if on the other hand you’re talking about the romanization of words, I think you’re barking up the wrong tree. The roman alphabet is the international standard, for better or for worse, and I don’t think you are going to be able to persuade many international visitors to Taiwan to learn how to recognize classical characters.


Ahem…haha. apparently when I stated my subject I wasn’t clear. Yeah but Maoman and Cranky Laowai were bright enough to know I mean the “numbering system”. So yeah thats what I meant by english road names.


What I totally dislike is how these streets are organized, its so easy to get lost, even if you take a taxi. Sometimes the lanes and alleys are just hard to find.

Its very helpful to have english names pinyin of the roads, but shouldnt they be written the same? For me in particular is hard to pronounce so, what is it Pateh Rd, Pater Rd. Pate Rd… A new person in town may think these are all different streets.


Hey rockgirl - You missed Badeh and a few others (I think this road must have the record for the most different roman (“english”) spellings, way more than the romanisation systems that have been identified). I don’t know what the record is for the greatest number visible at once, but if you come down the Tiding Bvd off ramp from the north you can see Juizong Rd spelt totally different on two signs. Then, a bit further on, you find the “direction” signs with the chinese covered up because the roads are not built yet, but the roman bit uncovered.


As long as I’m in the mood to take jabs at the foolishness and sloppiness of the nicknumbering system, have a look at what Taipei’s Department of Transportation offers as a guide.

It’s astonishing how incompetent, useless and mistake-filled the Web page is. “1nd. Ave., 2nd. Ave., 3nd. Ave.,” etc.; “Blyd.” for Blvd. And on and on. LOL!

I’ve also recently added a little more to the page on my site listed above.


[QUOTE]Originally posted by cranky laowai:
[QB]As long as I’m in the mood to take jabs at the foolishness and sloppiness of the nicknumbering system, have a look at what Taipei’s Department of Transportation offers as a guide.

All I can say is the moment I saw that link to a grid map of the new road system…I was laughing…uh…blue criss cross lines? No impression. Tell me that isn’t done by the government, not like they can lower my image of them any farther.

Originally posted by cyfhsu: All I can say is the moment I saw that link to a grid map of the new road system......I was laughing....uh.....blue criss cross lines? No impression. Tell me that isn't done by the government, not like they can lower my image of them any farther.[/QB]

Uh…farther? further? fart-er? which is grammactically correct?


The whole thing is just a big joke. The result is the opposite of what they want - to interenationalize Taipei. It has now become twice as confusing. Hence more “unfreindly” to international users. Hence LESS interenational. Start again please.