The romanisation of the Chinese language in Singapore
is not dictated by a single policy, nor is its policy implementation consistent, as the local Chinese community
is composed of a myriad of dialect groups. Although Hanyu Pinyin
is adopted as the preferred romanisation system for Mandarin
, the general lack of a romanisation standard for other Chinese spoken variants
and their dialects
results in some level of inconsistency. This may be illustrated by the many variants for the same Chinese characters often found in surnames such as Low, Loh, Lo; Tay, Teh; Teo, Teoh; Yong, Yeong.
The surname 郑/鄭 alone has several variations including Teh, Tay, Tee, Chang, Chung, Cheng, Zeng, Zheng. The variations Teh or Tee normally have roots in Malaysia, Tay or Tee coming from Singapore, Chang, Chung or Cheng from Hong Kong, and Zeng or Zheng normally from China.
Since the founding of modern Singapore in 1819 and with large numbers of migrants predominantly from Southern China
, Chinese placenames began to enter local vocabulary in place of traditionally Malay
-based names mostly given by the Orang Laut
communities. These names, however, are usually referred to in the dialects of whichever group accords that place a certain name, with some places having entirely different names for the same feature. In most places, however, the same name is used, but referred to by an individual's dialect.
When there was a need to record place names by the British administration, therefore,... Read More