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Shanghai Officials Put Signs in Loo of WCs
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Shanghai's "WCs" will disappear by the end of 2009. But don't worry about being caught short - it's just that all signs on the city's 3,781 public toilets will be relabeled to replace the term.

Chinese media said last week that Beijing will launch a campaign to use better English on signs for public facilities ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games, especially in public toilets, where "WC" has been long used.

Many signs using "WC" can still be seen in Shanghai, but officials have been working since last year to change the labels.

The Shanghai City Appearance and Environmental Sanitation Administration Bureau said Sunday that seven downtown districts, including Huangpu, Jing'an, Luwan and Xuhui, have finished the task.

In many Western countries the term "WC" is no longer used. "WC," or water closet, is a slang term that's not elegant or polite, earlier reports said.

American David Osterhout, who has been working in Shanghai for a number of years, said the change will be a success as long as it can be recognized by most people. But Canadian expat Marc Tessier said that name changes on toilet signs were not the most important priority. He said it would be better to put more effort into improving the conditions of toilets, as a number of public conveniences in Shanghai still suffer poor sanitary conditions and many do not provide toilet paper.

In Beijing, changes are also afoot to replace the English versions on road signs.

"Jie," in pinyin, will be translated into "Ave," "St" and "Rd" according to a road's width and length. For example, out will go Dong Chang'an Jie and in will come East Chang'an Avenue.

By the end of last year, more than 6,300 road signs in eight of the capital city's central districts had been labeled with correct English.

The move will spread to local scenic spots, shopping malls, museums, metro lines and buses, hospitals and stadiums by the end of this year. All restaurants and hotels rated three stars and above will have to use the standard names once they are issued.

(Shanghai Daily June 11, 2007)

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