Where do I live?

Posted on: Sat, 2020-02-01 - 16:39 By: dl7und

You may not believe this mess if you do not live in Taiwan.

Thank you for your concern, but I usually find my way home. And if I should indeed lack some orientation, I can ask my Tomtom One. The problem is actually more how to tell you where I live – at least, if you do not understand hanzi, the Chinese characters.

Oh yes, we do have roadsigns in two languages, and most people around here would tell you right away that “Sanmin” is English (or even the English translation) for 三民. Of course, you may have a hard time finding “Sanmin” in any English dictionary – for the simple reason that it is the romanisation of a geographical name here in Taiwan. A “translation” would more be along the lines of “three citizens”. "Sanmin" btw. is the name of the district I live in - and it is one of the easier parts of my address.

But most people here in Taiwan do not worry about such tiny problems. Language-related terminology is pretty much a mess, and so are the views regarding language. Not to forget: “I decide myself how to write my English name!” (quote by both a former department head (alleged Ph.D.) and department secretary of a foreign language department regarding the romanisation of their names)

Almost nobody here learns any romanisation system and due to recent rather frequent changes and slightly chaotic regulations regarding the "official" romanisation system, I am now in a somehow “funny” situation:

I live in a street called 中庸街. You can not read this, right? Well, I would like to help you, but… What do you plan to do? Do you want to look me up on Google maps? Do you plan to come here looking at roadsigns? Or do you want to send me a letter? All of these three things will require different romanisation systems, which in the end means a different way to write/spell the street name.

The post office is still using Wade/Giles. The postmen have never learned it, of course, which is why someone may need to write the street name down in hanzi on my letter/parcel. And even then the first try is not necessarily correct. But if you wanted to send me something, then I should tell you the street is written “Chungyong St.”

If you plan to come here by following roadsigns, we will need to use Tongyong transcription, because that is what DPP-governed Gaoxiong/Kaohsiung/? is using. In that case, the road signs here spell the name as “Jhongyong St.” This is also the version used on Nokia's maps.

If you prefer to look my place up on Google maps, you may notice that they have switched to Hanyu Pinyin a while ago. It is a rather strange “version” of Hanyu Pinyin though, absolutely character based, so on Google maps you would need to look up “Zhong Yong St.”

So please, if you can not read hanzi, do not ask me for my address! I may not know what to tell you, and that is embarrassing on so many levels…