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Chinatown Street Signs


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Apr 22, 2007
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While heading south on McCaul Street from Dundas to Queen after my AGO visit, I noticed this Chinatown street sign at Stephanie street...


The Chinese font on this sign is definitely different from the one used on the original Chinatown street signs... (and the characters for that font are most likely hand-written)


I certainly prefer the old style Chinatown signs, because I grew up seeing those signs. Not only that, the Chinese font on the new sign is the default one used on most computers today, similar to "Times New Roman" in English. I bet the designers of the new sign simply copied the Chinese characters out of Microsoft Word and pasted them onto the sign.

After the battle over the TTC font, perhaps the fight over the Chinatown street signs will be the next battle in Toronto's War of the Fonts.
Has their always been Chinese writing on the street signs?

Just what we need. Another reason not to have to learn english.
Just what we need. Another reason not to have to learn english.

Actually, the signs are a way to teach English. The Chinese on the street signs are not translations, but transliteration of the English street name. Each syllable of the English street name is given a similar-sounding Chinese character to spell out the street name in Chinese.

According to the signs, the Cantonese way of saying "Stephanie Street" is "Si-tai-fun-ley Kai" ("kai" is "street" in Cantonese), while "McCaul Street" is "Muk-goh-lo Kai".
Yeah, I was wondering about that, actually. Since I'm pretty sure Chinese doesn't have a pure syllabic alphabet alternative like Japanese does for spelling foreign words but I guess this is another way of doing that.

Anyways, I don't see how it's a way of teaching English since a person can just rely on reading the Chinese all day, rather than having to pick up English to get around, nor do I think that street signs are the proper place to be teaching immigrants to speak English, but hey, whatever.

Re: Topic. The McCaul sign looks more aesthetically pleasing to me.
As much as I like Chinatown, I could care less about the fonts used on the street signs as long as it's readable and visible.

As for the language on the signs, really IMO they should either be English or French.
Thank God. Those other ones look like they were cut out of cardboard by children. You know what to do folks to speed up the process, if you see one of those ugly street signs, throw something at it.
Yeah, how come there isn't Farsi on Toronto street signs? It would be such a potential learning experience for newcomers! And how about the Persian tourists!?

And I thought Canada's second language was French....

Now you know why Quebec hates us and will hate us even more if this keeps going on.

Though I feel proud to be able to read four of the languages on the chart posted above *salute*
^ Your attitudes, avatar and signature seem to hint at some sort of misdirected "patriotism". Try to relax a bit. Welcome. You belong here.
What are you guys talking about with street signs being in French as well as English? Is McCaul Street mystifying for the French in a way that Rue McCaul isn't?

Re: Transliteration. Since the Chinese versions of these street names are slightly different, when locals are referring to the street in common use do they use the English version or the modified Chinese version? Could you see something of a Spadyna/Spadeena boundary split happening eventually (or already?)

Also, I can't stand the new cheapo signs. They look like something Brampton or Mississauga would use. Even the cheaped-out version of the old design beats it.
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^ Your attitudes, avatar and signature seem to hint at some sort of misdirected "patriotism". Try to relax a bit. Welcome. You belong here.

What "attitudes" would that be? Is being pro-assimilation/integration a bad thing...? You could say it's overreacting, but as far as I can tell this is just part of a bigger trend....

P.S. Maybe the signature is a bit much, but I didn't know the Canadian flag was so offensive nowadays...:) Is it so bad to like your country?...
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I'd like the signs in Agincourt to have simplified Chinese transliterations, actually. The signs in Chinatown have been like that since the 1960s I think.

Me thinks theowne would like to see the streetsigns in faux Charlie Chan/Canadian "Chinese food" Chinese script. At least it would keep the tourists happy while ensuring Toronto retains its English heritage.

After all, cities with a sizable French speaking population - Ottawa, Cornwall, Sudbury all have bilingual signs - in Sudbury's case, they don't have the street generics on the local street signs to make them have no specific language. I'd like to see a bit more of this, except ethnic groups do move around. It would be like spotting an English/Yiddish sign on Spadina from the 1930s, which wouldn't make sense anymore.
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