Chas Freeman on Why People Say 'Beizhing'
For those joining us late: It should be easy for Westerners to say Beijing, but American announcers (especially) keep saying Beizhing. This doesn't "matter," but it's interesting, at least to me. Previous installments here, here, and here.
I've now heard from Chas Freeman, who has particular standing to speak on this topic. In 1972, when he was in his late 20s, he was principal U.S. interpreter for Richard Nixon on his trip to China. As he explains below, he also personally played a big part in the Peking / Beiping / Pei-p'ing / Beijing / Beizhing wars. He reports, with emphasis added:
Beijing, as you know, means "northern capital." (In the Shanghai and Cantonese dialects of Chinese, it sounds something like Buck-king, which the British, who were notoriously bad at grasping foreign names,... [via James Fallows]
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