Queens Council Member Wants All Signs in the City to Be Written in English

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Flushing. Photo: Andrew Savulich/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Queens city council member Peter Koo — himself a Chinese immigrant who learned English while working at a Kentucky Fried Chicken — wants the city government to enforce a long-dormant law that would require businesses in Flushing to have at least 60 percent of their signage in English, rather than the Chinese, Japanese, or Hindi that many of the neighborhood's residents read. “This is America, no? If I go to a Polish neighborhood and only see Polish signs, I would not be comfortable,” the Republican told the Times.

Local business owners protest that replacing the signs would be expensive and off-putting to the actual clientele. Not to mention the translation problems that might arise:


[Dian Song Yu, executive director of the Business Improvement District] pointed to a restaurant on 40th Road, between Main and Prince Streets. The English letters on its sign read Box 5 Buffet, while the Chinese characters meant “Quantity.” The neighboring business is labeled the Wilkin Driving School and, in Chinese, the Red Apple.

If a restaurant transliterated its name to Mei Shi Lin, Mr. Yu said, “it may comply with the law, but it won’t help non-Chinese speakers to understand what that means.” (It means “delicious food,” he said.)

So, "Delicious Food" and "Quantity" are already names of business in the neighborhood? Sounds plenty American to us.


In Neighborhood That’s Diverse, a Push for Signs to Be Less So [NYT]