Saturday, 15 May 2010

Multi-lingual Taipei

It's early evening and I'm sitting on the MRT (Taipei's mass rapid transport system) going shopping. The station announcements are made in 4 different languages, 3 Chinese ones (Mandarin, Taiwanese (which is Min-nan from the mainland province of Fujian) and Hakka) and English. The young man next to me is reading Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' in English and the young woman opposite me is keenly learning basic French.

A few days later I'm on the bus (with stop announcements in Mandarin and English) and the bus pulled up next to us has adverts in both Chinese and Japanese on it. Our schools student announcements are made in Mandarin, English and Japanese (except the day when the students were holding a collection for the Haiti disaster when the announcement was made in any language a student could be found to make it in!)

Not that the English here is always (or even often) very good, as can be seen from this part of a school announcement concerning classes around the Chinese New Year period:

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