GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2000, Vol. 19 ›› Issue (2): 217-224.doi: 10.11821/yj2000020015

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The background and influence of the exotic toponyms in the South China Sea Islands

SUN Dong-hu   

  1. Chinese Academy of Surveying and Mapping, Beijing 100039, China
  • Received:1999-10-15 Revised:2000-01-08 Online:2000-06-15 Published:2000-06-15

Abstract: The islands in the South China Sea were landed and named by ancient Chinese people 2000 years ago. However, few island's names were noted down in the official books and maps, and local folk toponyms recorded in Geng Lu Bu, a navigation guidebook composed by the ancient fishermen of Hainan Island, had no remarks on official maps. Following the mid 19th century, the foreign imperial its powers such as the Great Britain, United States, Germany etc, entered the South China Sea and practiced surveying and mapping, naming most of the islands in their respective languages. Lacking native actual survey maps, large numbers of exonyms from sea-chart in foreign languages, mainly in English were adopted on native maps and books in Chinese, most of the island names were transliteration or free translation from foreign forms. The first published official names by the Commission on Examination of Land and Water Maps of the Public government in 1935 mainly adopted the foreign-source names. The second published names list by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1947, added some new island names and modified several translated words, still continued the foreign influence. The third official list published by the China Committee on Geographical Names in 1983 adopted large numbers of local folk names and standardized the place names, but conceded most translation in 1947. Therefore,a valuable opportunity of correcting foreign-source island names was passed. Concluding the above discussed, the toponymists would pay much attention to modify the stipulations of place names, especially the naming on island names sourced from exotic words, with clear identification to their history and influence long continued.

Key words: exotic toponym, background and influence, the South China Sea Islands


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