LTA Amends Tamil Names Of Four Downtown Line Stations

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has amended the Tamil names of four more Downtown Line stations after it was discovered that one of them was wrong, The Straits Times has learnt.

Changes have been made to the translations for Promenade, Downtown, Telok Ayer and Cashew for “better clarity and more accurate pronunciations”, an LTA spokesman said.

The station signs were changed before the second stage of the Downtown Line, the DTL2, opened on Dec 27.

Cashew is a new station on the DTL2, while Promenade, Downtown and Telok Ayer opened three years ago as part of the Downtown Line 1.

During the open house for the DTL2 on Dec 5, a commuter noticed that one of the 12 new stations, Tan Kah Kee, had an inaccurate Tamil translation as “paan kah kee”.

The LTA apologised for the error and has since rectified it.

Following the incident, the LTA said it reviewed the Tamil names for all Downtown Line stations.

Asked about the four new names, Dr A Ra Sivakumaran, a language specialist, said: “The enunciation is clearer and sounds more like how it is pronounced in English.”

For example, the previous Tamil name for Promenade was pronounced as “pro-ma-net”, but the new one reads better as “pro-ma- nat”, said Dr Sivakumaran.

The original Tamil name for Downtown was “down-tavun” but the new one is “down-town”.

Mr J S Sasikumar, a member of the National University of Singapore’s Tamil Language Society, said the old name Telok Ayer sounds like “teh-luk-aayaer”, but is more accurate as “teh-luk-aayer”.

“They sound more natural. In the Tamil language, a change in a single letter can alter the sounding of the entire word drastically,” said the 23-year-old undergraduate. “So it’s essential that the Tamil letters are selected carefully, as they’ve done so here.”

Dr K Shanmugam, head of the Tamil Programme at SIM University, said that because many names of MRT stations are proper nouns, there is no way one can translate the literal meaning. He added: “The name would have to be translated using transliteration, which is something like writing the words phonetically in another language.”

Commuter Shervani Nair, 32, an education trainer, said the new names sound phonetically closer to the English ones.

“For example, Cashew in the old sign had been translated as ‘kay-shee-you’, but in the new sign it is translated as ‘kay-sh-u’, which is much closer,” she said.




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