Peking/Beijing (Re: Burma/Myanmar)

From: Edward Cherlin (
Date: Thu Oct 07 1999 - 13:11:17 EDT

At 05:59 -0700 10/7/1999, Akerbeltz Alba wrote:
>Micheal Everson sh:
> >For the last two, I think there's nothing wrong with us updating to more
> >correct pronunciations than those cogged together by civil servants of the
> >British Empire. Pinyin is _convenient_, and why not use it for all
> >placenames in China?
>Hmph, because Mandarin is a foreign language to anybody south of the
>Yellow river. Admittedly "Hong Kong" is a VERY crude representation
>of "Heung Ghng", but in any case preferred to "Xiang Gang".
>Admittedly, few of the place-names actually ARE in the local
>languages, but the few there are survive only in foreign languages
>these days, such as Fukien/Hokkien, Hong Kong, Kwangchou, Kwangsai
>On a personal note I always found it hilarious that the capital,
>deep in Mandarin speaking territory, should have a phonetic
>representation of I'm-not-sure-what but definitely NOT Mandarin with
>the final -k and/or inital k- in PEKING; could be Cantonese Pak Ging
>; )

The spelling "Peking" in the Wade-Giles Romanization represents the
same pronunciation in the same dialect as "Beijing" in Pinyin. They
had some funny ideas about phonology back in the 19th century. The
funniest example is

Wade-Giles Jehol
Pinyin Rehe

also the same pronunciation in the same dialect.

I also find it funny that the Beijing "dialect" is called Mandarin,
which is not Chinese. It is derived from a Hindi word brought in and
applied by the British.

And of course, that several of the various languages of China are
called "dialects", which is like calling English and Castilian
(Spanish to the hoi polloi) "dialects" of Latin, or calling Catalan
and Portuguese "dialects' of Castilian.

Edward Cherlin
"It isn't what you don't know that hurts you, it's
what you know that ain't so."--Mark Twain, or else
some other prominent 19th century humorist and wit

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