Friday, January 11, 2008

Reading Signs # 6



Some characters are a bit hard to read in this picture because of the lights shining on the sign. The shop is a however a bakery.

The first vertical line on the left is 專家 “zhuan1 jia1” which means “expert”. The next vertical line is 禮餅 “li3 bing3” meaning “ceremonial biscuit or cake”. And the final line is 訂婚 “ding4 hun1” which means “become engaged”. Therefore the left portion of the sign reads, 專家禮餅訂婚 (zhuan1 jia1 li3 bing3 ding4 hun1) or “Expert makers of engagement biscuits and cakes”.

The first word on the right hand side of the sign is 豆沙餅 “dou4 sha1 bing3” meaning “bean paste biscuit or cake”. The second word is 名產 “ming2 chan3” meaning “famous product”. And the third word is the name of the Taipei suburb in which the shop is located板橋 “ban3 qiao2”. So the right hand side of the sign reads豆沙餅名產板橋 (dou4 sha1 bing3 ming2 chan3 ban3 qiao2) which translates to “Banqiao’s famous bean paste biscuits and cakes”.

The two characters in the centre of the sign are the name of the bakery 長興 “chang2 xing1” which means “long prosperity”. I’m not sure why, but on the sign this is written back to front when compared to the rest of the sign as興長. Strictly speaking writing left to right or right to left is acceptable for signage, which can as this example shows make reading signs very confusing. Apparently (according to Wikipedia) in 2004 Taiwan mandated left to right writing to be used on signs, though I’m not sure
if that applies to all signs or just government signs.

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