On Monday, May 13, 2002, at 10:58 AM, Marco Cimarosti wrote:

> Thanks. Is a placename such as "Kowloon" spelled in Meyer-Wempe?

No. The oldest English place-names in Hong Kong are spelled with whatever
romanization system happened to seem appropriate to the British at the
time. The most notorious of these is "Hong Kong" itself which makes no
sense at all as a romanization of anything Cantonese, to the point that
some people have speculated that it is a romanization of a different term
from the Chinese name for the island.

One will note that the a large percentage of places on Hong Kong Island
have parallel English and Chinese names. This is less true in Kowloon
(acquired twenty years later) and the New Territories (acquired forty
years after that). By the time the English started to rule the New
Territories, their romanization seems to have settled down somewhat,
although there are still irregularities: one gets alternately Uen Long
and Yuen Long for a particular New Territories town, for example.

For the record, "Kowloon" would be "Kaulung" or "K'aulung" and "Hong Kong"
"Heungkong" in Meyer-Wempe.

John H. Jenkins