Alternative place names

Paul Eggert eggert at
Tue Sep 26 20:46:25 UTC 2000

Vadim Vygonets <vadik at> writes:

> I just asked a Chinese guy, who says that Chongqing is the
> official transliteration used in China.  So maybe we should go
> with the Chinese government.

That is an argument for switching, all other things being equal.  But
I'm not convinced that we should switch entirely to Pinyin.  For
example, should we change Asia/Harbin to Asia/Haerbin (or
Asia/Haerbin_Shi -- it's not clear to me which is right)?  The word
"Harbin" isn't derived from Chinese, which makes matters even more
interesting.  In English, "Harbin" is by far the dominant form -- 50
times more common, according to Altavista -- so I'm not inclined to
switch it.

For Asia/Hong_Kong and Asia/Macao, it's even clearer to me that we
shouldn't switch to Pinyin.

We have this problem with Asia/Urumqi and Asia/Kashgar too; in both
cases I chose the form that I found to be more popular in English at
the time (in the first case Pinyin, in the second case conventional).

Perhaps the worst example of this problem is Mongolia.  Places like
Hovd and Choybalsan seem to have dozens of spellings each.  With cases
like this we have to just close our eyes and pick a name, to some

> 'i' and 'y' are different sounds, at least in Russian.  Kirgizia
> and Kirgizstan are Russian names, Kyrgyzstan is Kyrgyzian
> (Kirgizian?).

Hmm, also Altavista says that "Kyrgyzstan" is much more popular.  So
let's prefer "Kyrgyzstan" in the comment and in  The CIA
prefers "Kyrgyzstan" as well, and they seem to be relatively
up-to-date in these matters.  (_The Economist_ prefers "Kirgizstan",
which is where I got the spelling originally.)

> > 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.  :-)
> However, Asia/Jerusalem and not Asia/Tel_Aviv is the official
> time zone for Israel.

It used to be Asia/Tel_Aviv, but someone reported that Jerusalem's
population is now greater than Tel Aviv's, at least by some measures.
Jerusalem is much better-known, so that was enough to get us to
switch.  If Jerusalem becomes a divided city with different
daylight-saving rules, then we'll need to revisit this issue.

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