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Pinyin jumps aboard nation's trains

By ZHENG XIN  (China Daily)

08:14, September 19, 2012

Shenyang North Railway Station, in Northeast China’s Liaoning province, will be changed to Shenyangbei Railway Station according to a new regulation of the Ministry of Railways. XINHUA

If you go to Beijing South Railway Station over the National Day holiday, don't be surprised if the name has been changed into Beijingnan Railway Station.

The change is to comply with a regulation by the Ministry of Railways to standardize the English translation of names of rail stations.

The rule, in effect since Sept 1, requires the direction in the railway stations names to be spelled in pinyin as opposed to English.

"As an intrinsic part of the railway station's name, it is for the convenience of foreign friends and locals that the direction is spelled in pinyin," said Wang Bin, the publicity officer of the ministry.

But it may take some time for railway stations nationwide to change the names.

The signs at the railway stations and the names on the train tickets will also be changed, the ministry said.

Some experts applauded the changes, saying they implemented a nationwide standard while promoting Chinese characters and culture.

"To have one uniform translation standard is better than the co-existence of both 'south station' and 'nan station'," said Yang Quanhong, a linguist professor at the Sichuan International Studies University.

"One of the most important principles when it comes to translation is being faithful to the original," he said.

Yang said because pinyin is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters and is officially recognized by the United Nations, it helps promote Chinese culture.

Minzu University of China, for example, is a translation closer to its original, he said.


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