Nostalgia Over The Old Names

This isn’t really a language question, it is more of a history or a public memory question. Does anyone else feel a sense of nostalgia or historical connection to some of the Wade-Giles’ spellings of place names and/or road names in Taiwan? While I agree 100% with the impetus behind pinyin romanization, I do believe that a few place names should be retained in their current spelling. For example, I think that Taipei should be kept at Taipei (not Taibei). I also happen to LOVE the word Hsin-Tien, but it just doesn’t look as poetic when written as XinDian. Yuck. Looks like a computer part when you write it that way. Some other place names that should definitely be retained: Kaohsiung, Taitung (Taidong) (so as to avoid the word ‘dong’ which has an alternate meaning in English), and Kinmen. Let’s not erase these names. Look at what happened with Amoy: that treaty port had a rich and colourful history on the world stage, but after it became known to the world as ‘Xiamen’, everyone forgot where Amoy used to be.// We should pinyin everything except the old place names.

You can add Taichung to the list. I also miss Alien and Putz :frowning:

Ah yes, it was fun to drive down past Chiayi and see the Putz sign. That was until somebody took out a dectionary and showed them the meaning of the word. For a long time no English sign was there.

During the Ming and Ching Dynasties, guess what? Both Taiwan and Okinawa were part of the same administrative region, which was called ‘Lew Chiu’ AND…Naha (known then as Na-Ba) was the administrative hub. Okinawa was Greater Lew Chiu and Taiwan was Lesser Lew Chiu. The Satsumas could not pronounce it properly and called the islands ‘Ryukyu’ when they invaded around 1870 or whenever that was. True Story. It’s so easy to forget all of this shared history when Okinawa and Taiwan now have completely separate names…you don’t have to look much further than the faces of the people, the tombs in the hills, and the mountains of Taipei County hovering just over the horizon to realize that these two places have a shared history up until fairly recent times.

I wrote a letter to Ma Ying-jou imploring him not to change all the place names in Taiwan over to Pinyin…for example, Hsin-Tien. How could anyone fuck with that?

This is just stupid. Why not change Lake Titikaka because it “titty” and “caca” have naughty meanings? Why not change the name of the city of F

OF COURSE Fucking and Intercourse should change their names!!! How can the residents hold their heads high? Aesthetics are important and permeate every aspect of our lives, whether we like it or not.

I once had a student whose legal name was Foo-Foo Tang, and YES I demanded that he change it.

Wait. Are you baiting me? You can’t be serious.

So people living in a country that doesn’t speak English (in the case of F

The unfortunate, colonialist, brutal reality of the world in 2005 is that most of the people on this planet speak either English or Mandarin. Therefore, if you have a name of a person or a place…no matter where that Proper Noun may be…and it borders on the ridiculous in one of the most-spoken languages of the world (let’s say English, Mandarin, Spanish, for the sake of argument), then that name should be changed. It is in the best interests of the person/place.// I do not advocate running a ‘check’ of every proper noun through every language on earth to see if you find something ribald. For example, if you have a place name in Dakota Sioux and it sounds ridiculous in Finnish, quite frankly, who cares. But if you have a name that is going to sound ridiculous to half of the people on the planet, then you have a problem. I bet you ANY MONEY that people from Fucking lie about where they are from when outside of the country and just site the nearest village/major centre, etc. That’s what I do when people ask where I am from! I am from Regina, but I usually lie and say Moose Jaw because I lived in Moose Jaw during junior high school. I am so sad that my passport says ‘Birthplace: Regina’. It’s ridiculous.

Wait… are you seriously saying Regina is MORE ridiculous and less dignified than Moose Jaw??? Not only does Regina mean “queen”, but it’s a common first name for women, or so I thought. Sounds extremely respectable to me. Or should we also change names that could rhyme with any part of the male or female genitalia in any of the three languages? That’s all I can think of that could be the problem - and if so it’s the place’s own fault for not pronouncing it ‘re-jeen-a’, not an intrinsic fault of the name. And if Taidong is out, Chappaquiddick must be on the chopping block too :s

I do sympathise with the general cause (I’ve never gotten over Calcutta being changed to Kolkata and I always wondered where the hell Amoy was) - but I’m just waiting for someone to come up with all the place names that sound obscene in Mandarin :slight_smile:

[quote=“daasgrrl”]And if Taidong is out, Chappaquiddick must be on the chopping block too :s

[/quote]

Well both places are coastal towns with inept police forces. :smiling_imp:

Kick-Stand, you’re trolling, right??? You’re seriously asking non-English countries to change their place names to accomodate a few over-sensitive moralists who think they rule the world because they happen to be native English-speakers??? What about names/terms that are harmless in British English and have a sexual connotation in American English? Will you be asking them to change those, too?

And btw, even though it might look like a dirty English term to you, F

Wait… are you seriously saying Regina is MORE ridiculous and less dignified than Moose Jaw??? Not only does Regina mean “queen”, but it’s a common first name for women, or so I thought. Sounds extremely respectable to me. Or should we also change names that could rhyme with any part of the male or female genitalia in any of the three languages? [/quote]
At this point, the way Reginians are pronouncing it, there is one small phoneme separating Vagina from Regina. They are saying ‘Ragina’.

Hi. I’m from Scodom. No…not Scrotum. Scrodom.

And Amoy is now known as Xiamen!!! It has a wonderful, perfectly preserved island that was once the treaty port of Amoy. Check it out.

Iris, dahling. This website automatically puts asterisks in place of swear words. Believe me, I have no trouble writing the word Fucking.

And this is not on moral grounds. This is all AESTHETIC, Iris.

I will give you another example:

During the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the town of Koza, Okinawa (located outside the gates of Camp Kadena Military Base) became synonymous with prostitution, drinking, and debauchery to the point where the word ‘Koza’ entered the Japanese language as a slang term for ‘slutty’.

That is the reason why the municipality of Koza legally changed their name to Okinawa City in the 1980s. True story…and I support them. They were being conscious of their image. They wanted a nice-sounding name.

Iris, names that have dirty sexual connotations in American English have almost fallen off the map in both America AND UK. How many baby Dicks have you met recently? When was the last time you met a child named Fanny? Sensitive parents avoid these names in favour of names that don’t mean penis or butt in other countries, because there are so many other great names to choose from.

Ok, I stand corrected. But if you would spell it the way it is supposed to be spelt, the auto-corrector wouldn’t censor it (see my and Tetsuo’s posts).

[quote]I will give you another example:

During the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the town of Koza, Okinawa (located outside the gates of Camp Kadena Military Base) became synonymous with prostitution, drinking, and debauchery to the point where the word ‘Koza’ entered the Japanese language as a slang term for ‘slutty’.

That is the reason why the municipality of Koza legally changed their name to Okinawa City in the 1980s. True story…and I support them. They were being conscious of their image. They wanted a nice-sounding name.[/quote]

No, sorry, but this example doesn’t work. This is about a Japanese town deciding to change it’s name because of a situation in Japan. It’s not about a foreign country asking Koza to change its name because the foreign power thinks that the name is indecent. I seriously doubt that anybody in F

Iris, my apologies on not having the umlaut function on this Japanese keyboard. You are absolutely right that there would be a world of difference between Fucking and Fucking if I just had that umlaut in there.

And guess what? Koza was an Uchinanchu word (Okinawan Language) that came to mean something bad in the colonizer’s language (Japanese). I think the example is relavent. Borders change, loyalties shift, and you become hyper-aware of what someone in another place thinks of your town.

Hi. My name is Dick and I was born in Ragina. This is my sister Fanny. She lives in Scrodum.

Kick-stand, your idea is retarded. Argue all you want, it won’t reduce the glaring idiocy of it. And I know plenty of people named Dick, Roger, Jimmy, and plenty of other names that may be rude on one or the other side of the Atlantic.

I really don’t know how this got twisted into an American vs. British English thing, with quips about ‘which side of the Atlantic’ you are on. I am not American and my main examples are of Asian place names. FYI: You guys have a major chip on your shoulder about The States. Let’s get this conversation back on track.// Many places throughout history have altered or outright changed their names in order to ameliorate the place name or conform the place name to the dominant ideology. One example that saddens me is Amoy. Amoy had a rich history as a treaty port and then was forced to change its name post 49. When that happened, it literally fell off the map to the rest of the world. Long-term Taiwan residents like daasgirl are like, ‘Where is Amoy?’ when they are living just a few hundred miles away from the city. Even alterations in names, such as Peking to Beijing and Bombay to Mumbai cause confusion. I am always amazed at the reasons behind these alterations, considering the loss of public memory, hassle, ignorance of history, etc.// Hsin-Tien is a fine name that has an important place in Taiwan’s colonial history. Let’s keep it. I have noticed that people aren’t too eager to change Taipei to the pinyin Taibei. Why is that? Why does Taipei get to keep its old spelling? Could it possibly be because Taipei looks nicer? Just a question.

Actually, I’ve only been here a year and a bit. I just sound old and crusty :wink:

I think the main point with which at least some of us disagree is that foreign cities “should” change their names because they sound funny/obscene/whatever in English. If they want to change their own names because they sound funny in their own language, that’s a different matter. I think every place should decide for itself, and that’s basically what happens, even though we don’t always like it. If Taipei decided it wanted to be known as Taibei (like Peking -> Beijing) then that’s what it will become to the next generation of people. I agree that it’s sad for those of us used to the old names but that’s progress, I guess. Often the legacy lives on in other ways (Peking duck, Siamese twins).