Taiwanese media covers kiss and ride

part of the article and photo about kiss and ride in Liberty Times 8 Feb 2007After Reuters put out an article on the "kiss and ride" signs in Taiwan's high speed rail stations earlier this week the story has been picked up by the Taiwanese media today. Taiwan's two top-selling daily newspapers, the Apple Daily (蘋果日報) and the Liberty Times (自由時報) both had articles about "kiss and ride". 

The Liberty Times story has the headline, "kiss and ride? 高鐵臨停區英文老外看攏無" meaning "kiss and ride? High speed rail temporary parking area, laowai don't understand at all". 

Here is the first paragraph of the article in Chinese followed by my translation.

「kiss and ride」是什麼?不只高中英文教師不知道,連住在美國的台灣人及美籍家都說沒看過,但台灣高鐵各車站的旅客臨時停車接送區都可看到這樣的英文標示。

What is "kiss and ride"? It's not just high school English teachers that don't know. A Taiwanese person  living in the USA and an American writer both say they have never seen it before. However, you can see these signs in the pick up and drop off areas at Taiwan's high speed rail stations.

It goes on to quote Dan Bloom as saying that it is American slang that has only appeared in the last few years. He says Taiwan is probably the first place in Asia to use this term. The article also notes that I put a photo of the sign on my blog which prompted a lot of discussion.  

The Liberty Times quote from the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation (THSRC) spokesperson says the signs employ the term which is used in the USA and Canada. The THSRC has not received any reactions to the signs. 

Kiss and Ride - headline from Apple Daily 8 Feb 2007


text (in Chinese) of Apple Daily article about kiss and ride signs, 8 Feb 2007Today's Apple Daily carried the story on page A17. The headline (pictured above) reads "高鐵臨停牌「Kiss and Ride」挨此". This translates as "High speed rail temporary parking sign "Kiss and Ride" attracts comments". You can see a large size image of the article by clicking on the thumbnail on the left. 

The opening paragraph of the article is followed by my translation.

高鐵通車營運一個多月,眼尖網友發現其臨時停車區告示牌英文為「Kiss and

The high speed rail has already been operating for more than a month. Sharp-eyed netizens discovered the signs for the temporary parking areas said "kiss and ride" in English. In confusion many put photos on their blogs prompting heated discussion. Some people questioned whether people really needed to kiss when they just wanted to get in and out of the car. Another foreigner commented on a blog that Taiwanese are too creative and even some foreigners cannot understand the signs. 

The article also goes on to quote Wu Xin-feng (吳信鳳), an English professor at National Cheng Chi University (國立政治大學), as saying the term is not formal English. A formal English translation would be "Pick Up Area".

The final paragraph says that the THSRC believe that the signs are not incorrect and there is no need for them to be changed.  

The caption on the photo says some blogs have photos of the kiss and ride signs. The article also mentions Jiayi (嘉義) English teacher Danny, who I presume is Dan Bloom.   

It has also been on television news. Dan Bloom informed me via e-mail:

I saw the news reported on CTI-TV this morning at 8 am, and also ERA TV called me for an interview by phone, they will do story later today, …. also, ETTV-TV did a story on it this morning.

CTS (華視) also have the story on their website (discovered via Google News Taiwan). The headline reads "Kiss and ride=臨停區? 老外看嘸!" which translates as "Kiss and ride = temporary parking area? Laowai don't understand!"

*Thanks to Dan Bloom for sending me various links and comments.

20 thoughts on “Taiwanese media covers kiss and ride

  1. I can verify it has appeared on the news. Some of my Chinese coworkers are talking about it. I do have to say though, I am baffled by the legs this story has taken. It’s just a freakin’ sign.

  2. David,
    Wonderful summary of all the Chinese-language news today, print and TV. I don’t think anyone ever suggested changing the sign, you never asked for that on your blog, and I never asked for that either; I think the bullet train PR department was just being defensive when the Apple Daily reporters called them with those “lao wai” blogs and news tips that were called in. I hope they don’t change Kiss and Ride, it’s cute and in a funny way, it’s helped humanize the HSR even a nice PR kind of way. Maybe the HSR will hold a press conference next week to explain all this to the public? Maybe.

    Someone else, I think it was Marc, on another thread, he said the KISS ME signs have been on cars in Taiwan for a long time. I think he means the “Don’t Kiss Me” signs in the backwindow or on the back bumpers that mean “don’t come to close to this car!” A few people I talk to about the KISS AND RIDE signs told me that at first they thought of those “don’t kiss me” signs on bumpers and rear windows.

    But no, the term KISS AND RIDE, it turns out, was not a mis-translation, it was a good, contemporary PR move by the bullet train signage people to give the HSR stations an international feel, and using the rather new colloquialsim Kiss and Ride instead of Pick Up/Drop off Zone, I think was a brilliant move. Cute and brilliant, the PR person who thought of this deseves a promotion. Please don’t change the signs.

    There’s a good chance news of this will be in Newsweek or Time magazine next week. at least the Asian editions, and who knows, maybe CNN or BBC will give you a ring next. It certainly would make a cute CNN segment, but CNN never comes to Taiwan, except for politics. It’s a shame, because this is a good good story. The Reuters guy in Taipei who first picked it up knew a good story when he heard one, and now the local media are following Reuters lead.

    Your wrap up above (and translations) and layout and design are great! Thanks for keeping the Blogosphere informed of all this.

    – db

  3. Btw, David, my guess is that after the news stories today in the Liberty Times and APPLE DAILY and TV news segments, many students will be blogging about this issue in Chinese today and this week. Any way you can check blogs in Chinese for these key words and post links here later?

  4. It may be just a sign, but it contains the word kiss. This word is probably second only to sex in its ability to attract people\’s attention!!!

    I do agree there are probably more serious issues that people (including me) should be discussing.

  5. yes and it apears that APPLE DAILY used a photo from her site for their report……scroll down, u can see it……Jan. 29 post of hers

  6. Haha! I agree, it’s just a freakin sign! However this may be a nice opportunity for Taiwanese people to examine their cultural views. The Taiwanese have taken in so much of western culture- this doesn’t seem like it should be such a big deal. I’m sure they’ve noticed people kissing in both eastern and western movies and TV. It’s not like it’s so taboo anymore. Maybe the problem is people take the signs too literally, as if they have to kiss someone in order to be dropped off at the lot. I think that is very funny.

  7. Dear David, I’ve just found your site through the article on the Liberty Times today. Really appreciate the time you spent for gathering & translating all the interesting topics and discovering the wonderful places that local people like me have never been.

    I bet your Chinese is good enough to read through the site that Danny mentioned. Let me try some through my poor English: The author’s opinion is that a good interpretation should not confuse people. Languages’ evolvement may be affected by human factors (trends or habits). That’s why an appropriate interpretation is so difficult to make. She hopes this article can 拋磚引玉(Dav, your favorite Chinese idioms :p), let other sophisticated and well-read people share their opinions.

    Also I found something interesting from one of the comments. A reporter asked a British passenger about the “Kiss & Ride” sign, he answered, “I have no idea what kiss & ride means, but fortunately I can read Chinese.”

    As a Taiwanese, and a graphic designer, I’m welcome for applying these interesting colloquialisms into our hustle life. But, please do change the shape of the sign or the Chinese text in a creative way. The white & blue sign looked a bit too serious to fit the interesting interpretation.

    “再見了,親愛的!” perhaps.

  8. OneTaiwanese blogger emailed me via Bejing,

    “I’m currently in Beijing, China,… so I cannot read the link you
    sent me from Liberty Times online, nor can I read page 17 on Apple Daily.
    But I enjoyed reading what you have copy-and-pasted, and the news article
    from CTS.TV.

    I never thought posting this article on my Chinese language blog would generate so much
    discussion, and my main point was never to accuse “kiss and ride” being
    wrong. It’s just that as a Taiwanese I didn’t feel it’s a translation that I
    would easily relate to, and I didn’t think any non-Chinese can or would when
    they see it in Taiwan either. Being a professional translator who has been
    working and studying both in the States and UK, I feel confused to see such
    term used so publically and suddenly. That’s all.

    Thanks for sharing these articles with me. It was fun reading them. “

  9. A Taiwanese woman living in the USA writes today:

    “RE: those Kiss and Ride signs on the bullet train line: I think, “Kiss and Ride” may be too advanced for common Taiwanese
    understanding of English. And kissing is still not a part of Taiwanese
    culture yet.”

  10. I’ve been watching this develop as well, and I agree that it’s amazing how far this has gotten. When you first posted about it, I didn’t think much of the phrase, since I’m familiar with it. I’ve seen “kiss and ride” areas around Maryland and DC, and actually I have been a bit surprised that the newspapers portray confusion as the common foreigner reaction. Is this really true?

    As for the cultural differences, I find it interesting how such a subtle phrase can seem so “out there” to Taiwanese eyes. Perhaps I’ll poll my Taiwanese friends to see what they think.

    By the way, congrats on the rise to fame!

  11. Holly, it seems the term’s use is fairly localised and even some people that live in North America have never seen it.

    I don’t think it has made me famous. The numbers reading my blog is still only in the hundreds. If I ever become famous I hope it is for doing something more than writing about a sign that says “kiss and ride”.

  12. I hadn’t ever heard the phrase kiss and ride before either, and I’m from Colorado. I don’t really think that a poorly translated sign means that much, though. It’s not like the infamous English Carnival or anything.

  13. OK, in the hopes of ending confusion, apparently even among native speakers of English, I am going to explain once and for all in three easy steps how this sign came to be in Taiwan. It is not an oddity, and most certainly is not a poor translation.

    Kiss and Ride Explained

    First, enormous numbers of Taiwanese engineers received their advanced degrees and training in the US. I see examples everyday in the visa lines. In particular, I would estimate that well over 80% of civil engineers, exactly the ones designing these transportation systems in Taiwan, studied and lived in the US for extended periods.

    Second, as I mentioned in a previous thread, \”Kiss and Ride\” signs are a feature of the DC Metro: you see them all over the place in DC, Northern VA and Maryland. I had never encountered this term before moving to DC, but I understood immediately what it meant. It was very obvious from the context.

    Third, the DC area is home to many, many people from Taiwan.

    What obviously occured here is that one of the transportation engineers in Taipei studied or worked in the DC area. S/he saw the \’Kiss and Ride\’ signs there and thought it would be a nice thing to use for the system here.

    That is all, nothing to see here, move along. Hope this clears things up.

  14. PR, thanks very much for your comment. It is also relevant to my most recent post about transport policy. I wrote about Taiwan pursuing the US model of road building when mass transit would be much more appropriate. I think you have helped clarify one important reason why things are the way they are (both with regards to the signs and transport policy).

  15. An overseas visitor writes in her travelblog:

    “The Chiayi bullet train station in Taibao was clean, modern ….and empty. We were
    met right away by a porter who ushered us to a taxi queue called “kiss
    and ride,” whatever that might mean….”

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