Despite mayor-elect Eric Chu’s (朱立倫) decision earlier this week that the English name of the upgraded Taipei County would be “New Taipei City” (新北市), the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) yesterday said the translation of the new special municipality’s name was still subject to its final approval.
“According to the Standardized Place Name Translation Act (標準地名譯寫準則), place names should be phonetically translated,” Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) told a news conference at the ministry yesterday. “Hence, phonetic translations of place names could automatically take effect, but literal translations, such as ‘New Taipei City,’ should be submitted to the ministry for review and approval.”
It’s the ministry that has the final say on whether the city’s name can be officially translated as “New Taipei City,” Chien said.
Before Chu’s announcement on Monday, there was a debate on whether the new special municipality’s English name should be translated phonetically as “Sinbei City,” or literally as “New Taipei City.”
According to Chien, while Article 2 of the law stipulates that place names should be translated phonetically, “Article 4 of the same law says that exceptions can be made upon approval of the MOI, based on the reason of history, language, customs or religion.”
“We have to wait until we see the application to decide whether the city’s name can be translated as ‘New Taipei City,’” he said.
Four new special municipalities will come into being tomorrow with the upgrading of Taipei County and the mergers of Kaohsiung City with Kaohsiung County, Taichung City with Taichung County and Tainan City with Tainan County.
Following the upgrade and mergers, cities and townships in these new special municipalities will become districts. For example, places such as Sinjhuang City (新莊), Banciao City (板橋) or Tamsui Township (淡水) will then be called Sinjhuang, Banciao, and Tamsui districts.