Monday, 2 February 2009

Why the different names? Peking or Beijing?

It can be confusing reading/talking about places in China. Most folk know the capital of China as Beijing now, but also know it was called Peking. Or should I say is! Hangchow or Hangzhou? Soochow or Souzhou? One is Mandarin and the other is Pinyin.

Why is this? The explanation is simple, but confusing. It is about the romanization change. So that we westerners can more easily learn the language, and that Chinese children can more easily learn their own language. The best explanation I think is on Wikipedia. I know that is not necessarily the "authority" but it is a good explanation. Click here.

Another site to read.

It is a bit complex. Students in China studying English will have three names. Their Chinese name (Chinese characters), their name in Pinyin, and oddly their English name. Strange as it might be, students choose a name so that their English teacher (if a foreigner can remember, and pronounce his/her name.)

An oddity with this is that Chinese names are different. Perhaps a few wise words. "Heavenly Child", for example. While we might call a girl "Grace" if we want to think of her as a heavenly child, we use a "name" not a "description".

Chinese students choose a strange English names, according to what we are familiar with. Sunny, Moon, Moonshine, Winter, Wind, Eleven, etc. Any word can be a name for a Chinese student. And they change their names from time to time. THAT is confusing.

1 comment:

kiwiriverman said...

Very interesting, Di. That is something that confused me a little years back when they changed things.

But Beijing duck is not the same as 'Peking duck', though!