Posted : 2012-12-06 18:14
Updated : 2012-12-06 18:14

English road signs will be made user-friendly

By Kim Rahn

The road sign for "Hangangdaegyo," which literally means the "grand bridge on the Han river," will be changed to "Hangangdaegyo (Bridge)," according to Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), Thursday.

This and other planned changes are intended to help foreign residents and tourists better understand road signs by translating the Korean words.

"We've had complaints that signs written in foreign languages are improper and confusing, and foreigners can't understand them," a city official said.

"Now more than 10 million foreign tourists visit this country, and it is time for us to take more care of them and expatriates when designing traffic and information signs," she said.

After consultation with experts, the city decided to put the meaning of the names on the signs and use full names instead of abbreviations.

Under this formula, Gyeongbokgung will be written as "Gyeongbokgung (Palace)" and Yeouido as "Yeouido (Island)."

For street names, Jongno 3-ga will be "Jongno 3 (sam)-ga (Road)," including the Korean pronunciation of the number.

Signs written in Chinese will use simplified characters instead of traditional ones.

For subway stations named after colleges, the city will put the full name of the institution and remove "ipgu," meaning "entrance" which is often put when stations are located near colleges. For example, "Hongdaeipgu" station will be written as "Hongik University."

Regarding use of Japanese, katakana will be used in principle, but proper nouns involving Chinese characters will use them as well.

However, the new system will be applied only to signs managed by the city government for now, not those supervised by the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs. When referencing bridges, the ministry's current rule is to insert the abbreviation "Br" _ for example, "Hangangdaegyo (Br)."

"We are recommending that the ministry accept the SMG style to improve on its current signs," the official said.

The city will collect opinions on its website from citizens regarding the changes up to Dec. 19 and before beginning to change signs in January.

관련 한글 기사

서울시, 외국어 표지판 알기 쉽게 바꾼다

내년부터 서울시내 관광지나 지하철 안내표지판 등의 외국어 표기 기준이 외국인들이 알아보기 쉽도록 개선된다.

시는 '외국어(영어·중국어·일어) 표기 기준 개선안'을 마련해 내년 1월1일부터 도로표지판을 제외한 각종 안내 표지판에 단계적으로 반영할 계획이라고 6일 밝혔다.

개선안에 따르면 영어의 경우 산·강·섬·도로·사찰·다리 등의 명칭을 전부 로마자로 표기하되 외국인의 이해를 돕고자 그 속성을 괄호 안에 영문으로 함께 적는다.

예를 들어 남산은 그동안 'Namsan'으로 표기됐으나 'Namsan(Mountain)'으로 바뀐다. 국사봉은 'Guksabong(Peak)', 한강은 'Hangang(River)'으로 표기된다.

영어와 달리 전국 공통적인 기준이 없었던 중국어와 일본어에 대해서도 중문 표기 시 간체와 번체의 병기가 어려운 경우 간체 표기를 우선으로 하는 등 기준안을 마련했다.

시 관계자는 '도로표지판은 국토해양부의 소관이라 서울시가 바꿀 수 없지만 각종 관광안내표지판, 지하철안내표지판 등은 개선안대로 바꿀 것'이라며 '중앙정부 차원에서 외국어 표기기준을 개선할 것을 건의하고 있다'고 말했다. (연합뉴스)

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