Misleading hutong names – Joel Martinsen

From Danwei blog:

Danwei noted last year that some residents were agitating to change the common place-name Âùü, “grave”, to something similar-sounding but less morbid, or at least more cultured, like ‘mausoleum’.

This sort of image improvement has been going on in Beijing for centuries, writes the Mirror in an article that examines streets in Beijing whose origins don’t really live up to their names because of the substitution of similar-sounding words. Note that some of the explanations below may be folk etymologies that do not reflect the true history of a particualr place name.

‰∏ãÂ≤óËÉ°Âêå: Laid-off hutong. Before it meant ‘layoff’, ‰∏ãÂ≤ó referred to soldiers going off-duty. But the hutong name here is geographical; a sentry-post was located on a hill here in the Yuan dynasty, and while the Ming pulled it down, the ruins remained as the area turned more residential. The region right around the ruins was known as ‰∏äÂ≤óËÉ°Âêå, so ‰∏ãÂ≤óËÉ°Âêå naturally followed… [Full Text]

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