Street signs in Kaohsiung would retain Romanized names based on the Tongyong pinyin system after a plan to switch to the more widely used Hanyu pinyin was rejected, the city government said on Wednesday.
The Kaohsiung City Government adopted Tongyong pinyin in 2004 amid a push by the central government to establish a nationwide standard and later set up an advisory committee to promote an English-friendly living environment, the Kaohsiung Research, Development and Evaluation Commission said in a statement.
In May last year, then-Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) proposed adopting Hanyu pinyin for the street signs at an estimated cost of NT$73 million (US$2.52 million at the current exchange rate), although the plan was ultimately delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Han left office after losing a recall vote on June 6.
After examining Han’s plan, foreigners on the committee said that “uniformity and consistency” are what make transliterations recognizable to non-Chinese readers, so the city did not change systems, commission Chair Tsai Wan-fen (蔡宛芬) said.
The city had undertaken a large-scale effort to correct transliteration errors and inconsistencies on street and landmark signs before hosting the 2009 World Games, the commission said.
After Kaohsiung city and county merged in 2011, the city government launched a second campaign and replaced 596 signs, it said.
The commission also cited labor issues and high costs as reasons to reject Han’s proposal.
The Ministry of Education adopted Tongyong pinyin as the country’s official Romanization system in 2002, before switching to Hanyu pinyin in 2008, although some Democratic Progressive Party-controlled municipalities, including Kaohsiung and Tainan, did not switch.
Hanyu pinyin is the most widely used Romanization system for overseas students of Chinese, but carries political connotations for some in Taiwan because it was developed by China and is used there.
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