5th February, 2014
Aberdeen’s Name is Changed – Mandarin Suppress Cantonese, Endorsed by HKSAR Government Depts
Shortly after the Education Bureau being suspected to draft official statement in Simplified Chinese, it is found that other government departments in HKSAR have adopted a new name for Aberdeen in Cantonese by using a Mandarin term.
Aberdeen Island (or Ap Lei Chau) in Cantonese is 鴨脷洲 pronounced as “Ap Lei Chau”. It literally means “duck tongue island”. Tongue in Cantonese is 脷, but in Mandarin is 舌 (Mandarin: she2; Cantonese: sit6). The character脷 is a homophone of利 (profit) – a symbol of good fortune in Hong Kong. Mandarin’s term for tongue舌 if pronounced in Cantonese is a homophone of 蝕, which means “loss (particularly wealth and money)”.
In a document used by the Marine Department during a Central-Western District Council meeting, the name Ap Lei Chau (鴨脷洲) was incorrectly written as Ap Sit Chau (鴨舌洲, second character is Mandarin’s character for tongue) for seven times!
After some investigation, it is found that under the Social Enterprise page of the Home Affairs Department’s website, the incorrect name of Ap Lei Chau was again written as Ap Sit Chau for three times.
Housing Authority’s website also made the same mistake and changed the Chinese name of Aberdeen St. Peter’s Catholic Primary School from “Ap Lei Chau” to “Ap Sit Chau”.
Other search results of Ap Sit Chau (鴨舌洲) include:
- Wen Wei Po’s report dated 22nd March 2012 referring to the two plots of residential land in Ap Lei Chau and Sai Kung
- Wen Wei Po’s report dated 7th August 2009 on a driving accident in Ap Lei Chau
- Tai Kung Pao’s article on 2nd October 2012 citing a Phoenix TV reporting which called Ap Lei Chau incorrectly as “Ap Sit Chau” twice
“Lei” and “Sit” are two different characters, the former does not exist in modern Mandarin, but has been in Cantonese since ancient times – Cantonese preserves a lot of ancient characters and terms, hence poems rhyme better in Cantonese and terms in Cantonese are often seen in Tang and Song poems, as well as Confucius and Mencius sayings. This is definitely not an error caused by using computer software. It is not a debate on whether Cantonese is the official language in Hong Kong anymore. It is a clear demonstration of the Hong Kong SAR Government is driving the Sinification (or sinicisation) in Hong Kong.
Editor’s Note:Given the complexity of this article caused by the language issues, the editor of this article had to interpret and rewrite some of the paragraphs. The editor tries to keep the essence of this article as close to the original as possible. However, this cannot be seen as a “literal translation”.