十大烏龍香港街名 | Lost in translation: 10 wrongly translated street names in Hong Kong

Friday, April 1, 2016|

[咁烏龍嘅!] 香港早期的街道係有英文名先,再由師爺譯中文,而當年嘅官員(莫非叫阿Chirs? ) 的英語程度參差,擺咗唔少烏龍。經我地絕對唔烏龍嘅求證,發現呢啲錯誤可分幾個Level﹕

[Lost in translation] In the old days, Hong Kong’s streets were first christened in English before the names were translated into Chinese.  Some things did get lost in translation but interestingly they’ve been left unfixed and today, many of us are blissfully oblivious to such mistakes!

Level 1: 讀錯音 Wrong pronunciations 


Did you know that around 60% of English words contain silent letters? Clearly the officers who translated some of the city’s early street names weren’t aware of that cunning quirk of the English language, and this inevitably resulted in some not-so-accurate Chinese translations, such as the follows:

Bonham Road 般咸道  / Chatham Road 漆咸道 / Fenwick Street  分域街




字中間嘅 “h” 和 “w” 音其實都唔發音~ 所以呢幾個中文譯名嚴格來講全部都係錯!正確英文讀音應為:Bon-am Road (般「南」道) / Chay-tum Road(漆「潭」道) / Fen-nick Street(分「n歷」街)。

The “h” and “w” are silent letters, so the Chinese names of these streets – Boon-HAM, Chat-HAM, and Fun-WICK are actually incorrect.
If you’re a native English speaker and you think your language is easy peasy, challenge yourself to this test!
How to Pronounce UK Place Names – Anglophenia Ep 23 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9q7VjLVU8Ec

Level 2: 會錯意 Missing the point 

We’ve all seen how things can go hilariously wrong with translations in China, thanks to the blight/boon of online translators. But mistranslations because of the multiple meanings a word can convey are nothing new.

Power Street 大強街


例如北角電氣道和大強街,都係以往通向北角發電廠舊址嘅道路,其英文名改做 Electric Road 和 Power Street 合情合理。Power 本應指電力,師爺卻誤會係國際列強、「強國崛起」嘅強,於是就譯左做「大強街」!

Electric Road and Power Street are two intersecting streets in North Point. They were named after the power plant that once dominated the area. While the Chinese name of Electric Road is a literal translation from English, somehow Power Street in Chinese is mistakenly translated as “The Great Powers”!

Spring Garden Lane 春園街

7春園街 (1)

又例如春園街,師爺跟 google translate 犯上同樣錯誤,將 「Spring Garden」 直譯「春園」,查實以前嗰度有個噴水池,「Spring」應該係指泉水至真。不過其實又錯有錯著,「春園街」個名又幾有詩意, 起碼好過隔離街,已胎死腹中的「囍歡里」…… (「囍歡里」已因劣評如潮已改回「利東街」。)

Another Google Translate-style cock-up involves Wan Chai’s Spring Garden Lane, which got its name from the fountain in a plush villa that once stood on the street in the mid-19th century, hence the allusion to a “Spring”. The Chinese name of the street, however, takes “Spring” to mean the season post-hibernation, which, though inaccurate, lends a poetic flavour to this traffic-choked part of town today.

Level 3: 居然得罪老闆娘!Sorry Boss!

Queen Victoria Street  域多利皇后街/ Queen’s Road Central 皇后大道中

7QueensRoadCentral (1)

師爺有時會矇到,連最大老闆娘嘅勛銜都攪錯。域多利皇后街(Queen Victoria Street)、皇后大道中(Queen’s Road Central)等等, 「女皇」和「皇后」英文同為 Queen,但前者係女嘅繼承皇位,後者係嫁俾皇帝做佢背後嘅女人 ,兩者係天淵之別!好彩維多利亞女皇應該無方丈咁小器!

One of the worst – or most exciting – mistakes one can ever commit is to make your boss angry, especially when the chief concerned is Her Majesty (at least in the old days)! The Chinese word for “Queen” can mean two things: a female head of state, or the wife of the king. The Chinese names of Queen Victoria Street and Queen’s Road both take the latter meaning. The bumbling scribe who was responsible for this almighty faux-pas should be grateful that he doesn’t live in a place like North Korea!

Level 4: 「痴樹根」、「發花癲」Challenged by Mother Nature

Fir Street 松樹街 / Pine Street  杉樹街  / Sycamore Street 詩歌舞街




大家行開深水埗大角咀一帶,會發現好多街名都係以樹木命名,但心水清嘅就會發現, Fir Street 和 Pine Street 的中文其實係唔小心對調左(Fir係杉樹,Pine先係松樹),真係痴左樹根!Sycamore 係指無花果樹,可能因為意頭唔好,師爺索性以音譯成「詩歌舞街」,又幾有意境。

Local Chinese people are not known to order fresh Christmas trees for their homes when December comes, so it’s no wonder the Chinese names of Fir and Pine Streets – both in Tai Kok Tsui – got mixed up! Some other streets in the area are also arboreally named. Take Sycamore Street. But rather than giving it a cursed literal translation of mo fa kor gai, or “flowerless fruit street”, it’s beautifully transliterated into si gor mo gai, ie. “poetic dance street”.

Level 5: 左右對轉左 Utter disorientation


烏龍超錯嘅終極,一定要數呢個列拿士地台(Rednaxela Terrace),其實本應為紀念地主 Alexander而命名,但登記的官員懷疑用左中文由右至左嘅讀法睇英文字,將 Alexander 誤寫成 Rednaxela,仲變成個呢個蹺口嘅街名!

Does this street name not look very weird, yet strangely familiar at the same time? It is indeed “Alexander”, but spelt backwards! The mistake is probably because Chinese was traditionally written right to left, and the translator decided to do the same with English, and voila, Rednexela it is!


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