Keelung / 基隆 / Jilong / Chilung

Keelung train station

One of the most oddly romanized place names in Taiwan is that of the northeastern port city of Jilong (基隆). The most commonly seen form, Keelung, is not standard in any of the main romanization systems.

street sign in Taiwanese

Just after I took this not-so-great photo, a local man came up to me and asked, in English, what I was doing. I explained that the street sign was in Taiwanese, not Mandarin, so I wanted a photo of this unusual sight.

"I don't think so," he said.

"I'm sorry. You don't think what?"

"The sign is not in Taiwanese," he insisted.

"Not the hanzi (Chinese characters), the luoma pinyin (romanization)," my wife explained.

"The sign is in Mandarin," he said.

"But look at the spelling...."

"D-I-O-N-G: zhong," he said, giving the Mandarin pronunciation for the character and glaring at us.

It seemed time for us to leave. streetsign in Taiwanese

Here's another sign in Taiwanese, this time with a two-character name. The Mandarin pronunciation of 中山 this would be written Jhongshan in Tongyong Pinyin, Zhongshan in Hanyu Pinyin, and Jungshan in MPS2.

Note the mismatched font for "Rd."

As further proof this sign wasn't a one-off, I took a photo of a smaller sign across the street. The different style of the signs indicates they were likely made at different times.

streetsign in Taiwanese: Diong-san

Most of the older buses in Jilong don't have any romanization at all. Keelung bus Keelung-Jinguashi

Some of the newer ones, with LED signage, use Tongyong Pinyin. (Sorry, I don't have any photos of those yet.)

Here are some older signs in MPS2. Some intersections have signage in both MPS2 and Tongyong Pinyin. Jilong has lots of streets with monosyllabic names, Shiau (Xiao) and Jung (Zhong) being but two examples; off the top of my head I can't recall even one street in Taipei with a monosyllabic name.

Taiwan street signs in MPS2 Keelung train station sign Keelung railway station sign Three signs in different styles

See also the page on styles for street signs.