Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chinglish absence in Taipeh

Just got back from a trip to Taiwan. What strikes me, time and again, is the absence of English in the linguistic landscape of the city. I am not talking about shop signs only, but also official signage such as this construction site notice. The sign reads: 非工作人员 禁止进入, "staff only". The mainland has been, for the past few years, gradually adopting the manga/comic aesthetics of official notices which has been popularized in Taiwan and, of course, before that, in Japan. The mainland, though, has been very active in adding English translations. Looking at this manga engineer, I wonder: is it lack of consideration or belief in the internationality of standardized imagery? Or, to turn the idea upside-down: is it a lack of belief in the internationality of standardized imagery on the mainland that you have to add English translations, even to an ISO/9001 traffic sign?