Wed, Oct 09, 2019 - Page 8 News List


Nothing-new dollar

Is it not finally time to drop the “New” from the name of Taiwan’s currency?

After all, it has been 70 years since the New Taiwan dollar replaced the Old Taiwan dollar in 1949, so it has been a very long time indeed since there was anything new about it. Would it not be much more appropriate now to call it simply the “Taiwan dollar” (台幣), dropping the “New” (新) from its official name?

In the UK, after the decimalization of the currency in 1971, the change in the value of the smaller unit of currency was indicated by changing its name from “pence” to “new pence,” as denoted on the coinage. However, the “new” was only kept for 10 years, until 1981, when its newness had worn off sufficiently for it to be dropped.

Many other countries, more than 20, use “dollar” as the name of their currencies. Apart from Taiwan, they only add the name of their country to the name of the currency, without any other descriptor.

Thus, there is the US dollar, the Canadian dollar, the Australian dollar, the New Zealand dollar, the Singapore dollar, the Hong Kong dollar, the Jamaican dollar, the Liberian dollar, the Solomon Islands dollar and so on. None but Taiwan adds a “New,” or any other adjective before or anywhere else, in the name of their currency.

Moreover, there is no other country that prefaces the name of their currency with a “New” or any other adjective. All simply qualify the chosen name of their unit of currency with their country name: the Argentine peso, the Brazilian real, the Danish krone, the Indian rupee, the Japanese yen, the Kuwaiti dinar, the Lebanese pound, the Malaysian ringgit, the Moroccan dirham, the Nigerian naira, the Russian ruble, the South African rand, the South Korean won, the Swiss franc, the Turkish lira, the Thai baht, the Vietnamese dong and so on.

So is it not about time that Taiwan came into line with the rest of the world and officially simplified the name of its currency to “Taiwan dollar”? Besides removing the potentially misleading reference to the currency’s already venerable age, it would also put to the fore and accentuate the name of its issuer: Taiwan, not “New Taiwan” or some other sub-national or embryonic entity.

Peter Whittle

Linkou, New Taipei City

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