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A number of Taiwanese universities, including 國立臺灣大學, follow the naming pattern 國立臺灣X大學.

This order, "National Taiwan X University" sounds awkward in English. A more natural order would be "Taiwan National X University" (or, more idiomatically, "Taiwan State X University").

This reverse order also seems more common in Chinese, e.g. 莫斯科国立大学, 釜山国立大学, 。。。

Even some of these Taiwanese universities used to have the opposite order, e.g. 臺北帝國大學, 臺灣省立師範大學.

Does the word order 國立臺灣X大學 sound unnatural to Chinese native speakers?

(If so, my guess would be that the order 臺灣國立X大學 was pointedly avoided to prevent any possible implication that Taiwan is a nation.)

  • province of Japan? 城市立e.g.纽约市立大学 City University of New York, 州立:e.g.科罗拉多洲立大学 Colorado State University, 私立大学 privately endowed university, 国立大学:新加坡国立大学、莫斯科国立大学, – user6065 Jul 30 '17 at 5:37
  • In a Chinese statement, terms are placed in different order from English, e.g. address : Country > Province > City, while in English, they are City, Province, Country. and another sample, 北京西站 = West Beijing Station (in English). – Daniel Yeung Aug 7 '17 at 12:07
  • @user6065 Exactly, 莫斯科国立大学 uses the opposite order! – Colin Aug 8 '17 at 12:23
  • all the examples in comment #1 have opposite order, which merely serves as reminder of the usual order in analogous expressions replacing 国 with 市,州(note wrong 洲) 私. – user6065 Aug 8 '17 at 13:03
  • Generally we speak the place name first before other determiner, but put the 国立 before the university's name to emphasize that it is founded by state but not local. – 賈可 Jacky Nov 28 '17 at 8:38
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To name a few: 中国科学技术大学 中国人民大学 中国地质大学 中国农业大学 中国石油大学 etc.

In mainland China, most universties are public university. As a matter of fact, the introduction of private universities happened only a few years ago. So there's no need to add public or nation owned as part of the name.

Also when you name a university, usually you put its location first. e.g. 湖南大学,香港中文大学. This applies for foreign universities too. e.g. 加州州立大学 California State University, 亚利桑那州立大学 Arizona State University.

This is what it looks like now.

However, In the Republic of China, I mean ROC almost a century ago, not Taiwan, universities are divided into two groups: public and private. So, for easier separating them, you add 国立 at the beginning for public schools. They are funded by the ROC government and when ROC moved to Taiwan, the universities are moved too, with their names unchanged.

So what you are asking, is really, why people name the universities like this 100 years ago. I guess the reason, is because before that, the country was run by the Qing Dynasty and naturally the universities, if there were any, would be named like Imperial Technology University 帝国科技大学. 孙中山 wouldn't like this and want to emphasis that the universities are run by the republic government, not the empire. If you want your government sustainable, you start with education.

Fun fact, some universities in mainland China still has evidence of it's original 国立 name. For example 国立武汉大学

  • 国立武汉大学 (1928) proves this construction did not originate in Taiwan. Thank you. – Colin Aug 8 '17 at 12:54
  • @ColinZwanziger ah of course not. Even ROC Taiwan is originated in mainland China. As a matter of fact, the capital city of ROC is controversially considered to be Nanjing, which is north-west to Shanghai. Personally I just feel when the ROC moved to this island, we lost a lot good things too, tradition, culture, etc. I really hope these two governments can someday come to an agreement of building a federation, which removes the shouldn't-ever-be-existed barrier between these two countries. After all, genetically we are the same people. – An Chin Aug 9 '17 at 0:01
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Does the word order 國立臺灣X大學 sound unnatural to Chinese native speakers?

No, it doesn't.

國立 means "national" (Government ran) 臺灣 is where XX university is located.

Both 國立 and 臺灣 are description of 'XX university' . The order is not important since 臺灣 is not a nation.

For example: "防空短程導彈" (anti-air short range missile) and "短程防空導彈" (short range anti-air missile) are the same thing. Just the order of the descriptions are different.

However, If it was "中國國立大學", then the order would be important. (Since there is only one China, 中國國立大學 can only be one university representing the whole China )

  • I'm aware of that, but Pusan, Hanoi, and Odessa, aren't nations either (see question). The question is specifically, whether the order 國立臺灣大學 sounds ungrammatical to any degree. – Colin Jul 30 '17 at 0:31
  • OK, so 中國國立臺灣大學 is grammatical? – Colin Jul 30 '17 at 0:40
  • Yes, 中國國立臺灣大學 is grammatical – Tang Ho Jul 30 '17 at 0:42
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I think the order depends. If "臺灣大學" is the school's name (as a whole), then it should go "國立臺灣大學". And if "臺灣" is used as an attributive to the university's name, then "臺灣國立X大學" goes a bit more natural than "國立臺灣X大學".

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The name of these universities is 臺灣大學, 臺灣師範大學, 臺灣藝術大學, etc., and 國立 as mentioned above just points to the source of funding; others include 台北市立, 台南市立, etc., but these are more common for grade schools and usually translated as "Taipei Municipal [Name] Senior High School."

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