注音符號 on signs in Taiwan

I have mentioned before that in Taiwan, schoolchildren learn 注音符號 to learn the sounds and tones of Chinese. Sometimes, signs in Taiwan include 注音符號 if it is important that everyone needs to be able to read them. Signs with 注音符號 are also common in areas where children may be. I found some examples from some pictures I took in Taipei in late 2011.

This was in the restroom of a department store. This sign has 注音符號 next to every word – the title and the explanations. Outside of a preschool or elementary school, I have not seen a sign with that much 注音符號. However, the sign is teaching the correct way of washing hands. The sign is from the Taipei Department of Health. As a public service, I think it is a good idea to include 注音符號 on the entire sign so children can also learn to properly wash their hands.


These next two pictures were taken at the Taipei Zoo. In these cases, only the names of the animals have 注音符號 next to them. The rest of the sign only has characters. The most important part of the sign is to identify the animal, so I think this is appropriate. An adult would most likely be with the child and could read the rest of the sign to the child.


This next picture is of an ad for “Made in Taiwan” on the side of a MRT. It is an ad to encourage people to buy products made in Taiwan. It’s pretty cute and is supposed to be from the point of view from a child – it looks like a child’s artwork. Next to a drawing of the family, there is a sentence written in a child’s writing.

Notice that two of the words are only written in 注音符號. It’s pretty common for children to substitute words they may not know by writing the 注音符號 for that word. And it’s entirely readable.

The missing characters are 讓 [ㄖㄤˋ] and 微 [ㄨㄟˊ].

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