Confusion prompts city to rethink MRT spelling

TRANSIT TROUBLES::The issue was raised after the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation received complaints about the lack of apostrophes in the names of stations

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Dec 23, 2012 - Page 3

Is the Jingan MRT Station in Taipei pronounced Jing’an or Jin’gan? The romanization of MRT station names in Taipei has caused confusion for some local residents and foreigners, prompting Taipei’s Department of Rapid Transit Systems to consider putting apostrophes in the names of the stations.

For example, Jingan MRT Station would be changed to “Jing’an” in accordance with regulations on the translation of place names under the Ministry of the Interior. Station names would thus not be mispronounced, the department said.

The issue was raised in Taipei’s international affairs committee on Friday after the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation said it received 10 complaints about the lack of apostrophes in station names, suggesting that the department make the appropriate changes.

Chief secretary of the department Chang Ze-hsiung (張澤雄) said the department plans to adopt the ministry’s translation regulations and insert apostrophes into the station names to avoid confusion about the pronunciation.

In addition, some mispronunciations may be considered vulgar by locals.

For example, Yongan Market MRT Station could be pronounced as “Yon’gan” (雍幹) and the Chinese character for gan (幹) carries a negative meaning, Chang said.

However, the proposal was challenged by some committee members. Allan Weston, chief executive officer of the Taipei European School, said hyphens are used to stress the pronunciation in romanization and apostrophes are used as a contraction of two words, such as “can’t” from “cannot.”

For example, Daan MRT Station should be changed to “Da-an,” as “Da’an” would be incomprehensible for most foreigners.

The city government should adopt the system used in the romanization of street names in Taipei, such as “DaAn” Road, he said.

Chang said the romanization of street names was adopted under the authority of the Taipei Department of Civil Affairs, and it would discuss the issue with the Department of Civil Affairs to reach a consensus.

“We don’t know what regulations the Civil Affairs Department are using in the translation of street names in Taipei. Our goal is to be consistent with street names and station names for the convenience of foreigners,” he said.

If changed, the affected MRT stations would include Daan Station, Qilian Station, Yongan Market Station, Jingan Station and Daan Park Station.

The department would change the station names next year once the Xinyi Line is completed, using a budget of about NT$1 million (US$34,000), he said.