How to Transliterate for Navigation

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Names for stations, stops, praks, streets in navigation should not translate directly. The idea of translation to help passengers, who are not familiar with the local language, to recognize the name and orient themselves in the space. Transliteration usualy should be done by letters and not by meaning.

As an example in Tokyo metro foreigners, who do not know the Japanese language, without any issues can read that this is Nihombashi station:

translation in navigation system signs

and this is Meiji-jingumae station near Harajuku:

translation in navigation system signs

This helps to recognize the name in announcements of stops by radio during the ride. Also helps to know if you at the right station and ask people for help by pronouncing the name. This helps without using a phone or GPS to understand if this is stop you ned by glancing outside of the metro car or bus window.

Both places can be translated by meaning: ”Japan Bridge” and ”In front of Meiji Shrine” respectively. A literal translation, on the contrary, will not help to find where you are. It only misled and help with some background. Most likely locals will not know the translation into English too.

Another example is the Moscow metro in Russia. Because foreigners can’t read Cyrillic translitiration of the name is done even for word “street” – ”Ulitsa Rozhdestvenka”.

translation in navigation system signs

When we dealing with Latin there is not translation needed, if the language is different from English. People can read names without knowing Geman pronunciation rules. As an example:

translation in navigation system signs

Good examples of translations:

Китай-город — Kitay-gorod

渋谷 — Shibuya

Uhlandstraße – Uhlandstraße

명동역 — Myeong-dong

Dworzec Gdański – Dworzec Gdański