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English a sign of the times
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08:44, April 14, 2009

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No, it is not "street," nor "road". It is simply lu.

The English translation for signs in Guangzhou will be based on Mandarin pronunciation with pinyin spelling and come into effect from May 1, the city government said.

This means busy Beijing Road will be translated as Beijinglu and east Dongfeng Road will be known as Dongfeng Donglu. Lu means road or street in English.

There are plans to translate signs for roads, streets, commercial centers, sports facilities and other public areas.

"This is designed to boost Guangdong's international image ahead of the next year's Asian Games," said Qiu Xiaoying, a publicity official from the provincial quality and technology supervision bureau.

Foreigners will only need to pronounce the road names and most taxi drivers will understand, Qiu said.

"It will become more convenient for foreigners visiting or living in Guangdong when they go to the public places," Qiu said.

However, not all structures will be translated faithfully from Mandarin. Guangzhou Bridge, for example, will not be Guangzhou Daqiao. Qiao means bridge in English.

A resolution made by the UN in 1967 stipulated all the English translations of place names in each country and region should be based on its mother language. The State Council issued a plan to standardize place names in 1986, stipulating all public names should be based in pinyin.

"Using pinyin to name public signs is in accordance with international and domestic regulations. It should be promoted," Zhan Cheng, a teacher from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, said.

Source: China Daily

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