Â Update: I kind of regret posting that link now, having read the article. It wasn’t just the bizarre insistence on using Wade-Giles romanisation (and weird, way out of date names like ‘Amoy’, which I believe refers to Xiamen), but quite a few things in it set the old bullshit detecters zinging. I’ll explain later when I’m breakfasted and caffeinated.
Well, I don’t actually want to pose the question. I tell my students Beijing is Beijing; Peking is only used in an historic context. But I always wondered how Beijing got to be called Peking. I always put it down to some ridiculous old system of romanisation, like Wade-Giles or Yale, but now, via this post at Pinyin Info, I have an article which explains it all. Haven’t read it yet, I just downloaded it (bloody pdf files never cooperate with Firefox), but according to the summary at Pinyin Info, we got Peking through a combination of three factors:
- A plethora of romanisations
- A welter of local pronunciations, and
- Phonological change over time
Apparently that’s quoted from the original article. Anyway, follow the link to Pinyin Info to download the article, if you’re interested.