International District, Seattle, WA, USA, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: King and Maynard (Seattle CID)

I’ve been fascinated by the origins and appearance of words and characters since I learned how to write in both Chinese and English languages. Thanks to a variety of websites (particularly one about Berlin), my eye has recently been tuned to typography.

In front of the Fortune Garden restaurant in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (CID) are bilingual street signs which have been widespread throughout the area since 2013. North of Jackson Street, street signs switch from Chinese-English to Japanese-English; east of I-5 and 10th Avenue, street signs switch from Chinese-English to Vietnamese-English.

In the picture, the combination of Chinese characters have little meaning. But where transliteration to Cantonese is concerned, each Chinese character is an individual “vocalization” representing a syllable in English. South King Street becomes “南景街” which is pronounced “naam4 ging2 gaai1” and in literal terms is “south – view/situation – street”. Maynard Avenue South becomes “南美拿大道” which is pronounced “naam4 mei5 naa4 daai6 dou6” and in literal terms is “south – good/pretty – take/use/capture – big – road”. (See the note below* for more.)

I made the picture above on 11 May 2016 with the Canon 6D, 24-105 glass, and the following settings: 1/800-sec, f/11, ISO1000, and 47mm focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-byk.

* Arriving primarily from Guangdong province in southern China, people began building Chinatown settlements in North America in the 19th-century; most of the new immigrants spoke Cantonese. With my own intermediate proficiency in Cantonese, I’ve used CantoDict for the transliterations above. The numbers associated with Anglicized pronunciation of Chinese words correspond to six tones in the Cantonese dialect. A summary of the six Cantonese tones is provided in this video.

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