Alternative place names

Paul Eggert eggert at
Tue Sep 26 07:12:30 UTC 2000

Oscar van Vlijmen <o.van.vlijmen at> writes:

> Keep the current zone names because Thule and the other Danish names are
> globally more common, keep the commented Inuit names, but change Pituffik to
> Qaanaaq. However small Qaanaaq is, it refers to Thule; Pituffik refers to
> the air base.

The "Thule" entry refers to the airbase, not the town.  Until
recently, Thule was the only time zone region whose most populous
location was an airbase.  Even now the populations of the town and the
airbase are neck and neck, so I'd leave it alone for now.  However,
I'll append "air base" to the comment, to make it clearer.

> * Bhutan: the name of the capital is Thimphu, not Thimbu.

Good point.  By Altavista's count, "Thimphu" is now far more popular
than "Thimbu" in English.  I'll change this in my next proposed patch.

> * Cambodia: Phnom Penh says the tz data, Phnum Penh is a more modern
> transliteration.

Altavista says that "Phnom Penh" is still more popular in English, by
a wide, wide margin.  So let's stick with it.  (Besides, we can't put
the accent over the "e" in a Posix name.  :-)

> * China: Chungking: seems to me an old and wrong French transliteration of
> Chongqing; the q is not a k-sound, but a ts-sound.

Chungking is the traditional English name; e.g. see
which gives the following examples, among others:

(Postal)        (Pinyin)
Canton          Guangzhou
Chungking       Chongqing
Hong Kong       Xianggang
Macao           Aomen
Peking          Beijing
Szechuan        Sichuan

Of these examples, I think "Beijing" is clearly more popular than
"Peking" in English these days.  At the other extreme is "Xianggang",
which few English-speakers have ever heard of.

"Chungking" is somewhere in the middle -- still more popular than the
Pinyin name in movie titles (e.g. Chungking Express [1994], a movie
made in Hong Kong) but less popular in, say, English-language travel
web sites produced in the PRC.  For now I'm slightly inclined to leave
it as "Chungking" for a little while longer, but put "Chongqing" in as
a comment.  Similarly for the other Postal names.

> * Cyprus: Nicosia. Isn't this called Lefkosia at the moment?

That's news to me.  I often see English-language news dispatches with
a Nicosia dateline.  Perhaps it depends on whether you're looking at
the city from a European or an Asian viewpoint?  I can just see it
now: Europe/Nicosia as an alias for Asia/Lefkosia.  (No, no, forget
that I mentioned it.  :-)

> * Kazakhstan: Aqtau: could be a pre-1940 transliteration; since the Cyrillic
> script was reused, the correct transliteration, according to the Times
> atlas, is Aktau.

The CIA spells it "Aqtau".  The Times of Central Asia (the only online
English-language newspaper in the area that I could find) also spells
it "Aqtau"; see <>.  The
Lonely Planet guide also calls it "Aqtau" (and I can't resist
repeating its remark that the town is "for the perverse and JG Ballard
lovers only").  But a lot of Russian-derived sources do indeed spell
it "Aktau", and I think the oil companies tend to follow the Russians.

Currently "Aktau" is present as a comment; I'm inclined to leave it
that way for now.

> Where on earth is Aqtobe? TZ data says it's in the
> Aktyubinsk time zone. Since Aktyubinsk is on the map (both as an oblast'
> name and as the capital of that county), why not change Aqtobe to
> Aktyubinsk.

Aktyubinsk is the old (Russian) name, and Aqtobe is the new (Kazakh)
one.  Google says "Aqtobe" is more popular these days (not surprising,
as "Aktyubinsk" is a pain to spell :-).

> * Kirgizstan: should be Kyrgyzstan.

The official name indeed has "y" but I think "i" is quite popular in
English.  It's just a comment, so it doesn't matter all that much.
I'll include both spellings in the comment.

> * Laos: Vientiane. Put in a comment the better transliteration of Lao name:
> Viangchan.
> * Qatar: Al Dawhah: it's Ad Dawhah or the more Latin alternative Doha.
> * Bahrain: no need for '-' in Al-Manamah, so: Al Manamah.
> * Syria: Damascus; comment: Dimashq.

Thanks; I'll add/fix these comments.

> * Turkmenistan has since 1991 the Latin alphabet instead of the Cyrillic.
> I'm not sure if it's Ashkhabad or Ashgabat at the moment.

Altavista says that Ashgabat is much more common, and the CIA uses
Ashgabat.  This looks like we should change the name too.

> * Vietnam: tzdata says: Saigon's official name is Thanh-Pho Ho Chi Minh. How
> nice, but isn't the capital Ha Noi? The fact that probably more Americans
> actually have been in Saigon should not play any role ;)

Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon is far more populous than Hanoi, so that's
why we use it.  (Just as we use Los Angeles and not Sacramento.  :-)

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