The Romanization of Mandarin place names will be standardized by the end of this year, an official said yesterday, after years of confusion stemming from multiple spellings.
The official from the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) said the nation would use the locally developed "Tongyong" system, rejecting use of China's Pinyin system and the once common Wade-Giles system introduced by two Englishmen in the late 19th century.
Over the past decade Pinyin has gained wide acceptance among foreign students of Chinese, even as Wade-Giles and other foreign systems have diminished in importance. The Tongyong system is virtually unknown outside Taiwan.
But the MOI official insisted that Tongyong was still a good choice for a standard Romanization system.
"In the past, diverse spellings have caused confusion, so we have decided to remedy the situation," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
Multiple Romanization of place names have caused confusion for non-Chinese-literate visitors to Taiwan. For example, a busy shopping street in Taipei is variously rendered as Chunghsiao, Zhongxiao and Jhongsiao.
The MOI Web site also states that exceptions will still be allowed for some well-known tourist attractions.