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Names of Singapore

Singapore
Chinese name
Chinese 新加坡
Malay name
Malay Singapura
Tamil name
Tamil சிங்கப்பூர்
Ciṅkappūr
Republic of Singapore
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 新加坡共和國
Simplified Chinese 新加坡共和国
Malay name
Malay Republik Singapura
Tamil name
Tamil சிங்கப்பூர் குடியரசு
Ciṅkappūr Kuṭiyaracu

The names of Singapore include both historical designations and contemporary names and nicknames in various languages about the island. A number of different names have been given to the settlement or the island of Singapore all through history, the earliest record may have been from the 2nd century AD. Possible mentions of Pulau Ujong, the name for the island of Singapore, may be found in Chinese works, and it was also referred to as Temasek in Malay and Javanese literature. Sometime in the 14 century the name was changed to Singapura, which is now rendered as Singapore in English. Singapura means "Lion City" in Sanskrit, and Sang Nila Utama is usually credited with naming the city, although its actual origin is uncertain.[1]

Contents

Etymology of SingaporeEdit

The English language name Singapore comes from its Malay name Singapura, which is derived from Sanskrit meaning "Lion City".[2][3] Singa comes from the Sanskrit word siṃha (सिंह), which means "lion", and pūra (पुर) means "city" in Sanskrit and is a common suffix in many Indian place names.[4] Sanskrit was used as it was considered for a long period the prestigious international language of the region. Sang Nila Utama, said to be the founder of Singapura in late 13th century who gave the city its name, also acquired a Sanskrit name Sri Tri Buana.[5] The name Singapura or its related form was fairly common in early South East Asia, with a few cities given the same name – the earliest one known is Simhapura in what is now Vietnam established by the Cham people in the fifth century, others were found in Thailand and Java. The name also appears in Buddhist jataka tales and in the Ramayana.[5]

According to the Malay Annals, Singapore was named after a strange beast seen by Sri Tri Buana while hunting in Temasek, and he was informed that the beast must have been a lion. He then decided to stay in Temasek and named the city he founded Singapura or "Lion City".[6][7] However, scholars have pointed out that lions are not native to Singapore or South East Asia, and the "lion" therefore would have been an error in identification. The Malay Annals describes the beast seen by Sri Tri Buana as a powerful, fast-moving and fine-looking animal with a "red body, black head, and white breast", and size "slightly bigger than a goat."[6][8] Some have suggested that it may have been a tiger or some other big cat that he saw and was misidentified.[9][10][11] However, since tigers were native to the region, some thought it unlikely that Sri Tri Buana or his followers would not recognise a tiger to mistake it for a lion.[1] It has also been suggested that the description of the beast in the Malay Annals fits a mythical beast called janggi told in Minangkabau legends as a guardian of gold mines.[6]

Some also thought that the person Sri Tri Buana and the story of the founding of Singapura to be fictional, and a number of alternative suggestions for the origin of the name of Singapore have been given. For example, it has been proposed that the name was adopted by Parameswara as an indication that he was re-establishing in Singapore the lion throne that he had originally set up in Palembang as a challenge to the Javanese Majapahit Empire. In this version of events, the Javanese drove Parameswara out of Palembang as a consequence of this defiance, and he then fled to Singapore, whereupon he assassinated the local ruler and usurped the throne.[1] The change of name may therefore serve to strengthen his claim over the island.[2] Others linked the name to the Javanese kingdom Singhasari as well as a Majapahit Buddhist sect whose adherents were referred to as lions.[1] Another suggestion is that the singa in the name may simply be singgah meaning "stop over".[12] Although it is believed that the name Singapura replaced Temasek some time in the 14th century, the origin of the name cannot be determined with certainty.[1]

Historical namesEdit

Early recordsEdit

The first possible written records of Singapore possibly date to the 2nd century, when the island was identified as a trading post in the maps of the Greek astronomer, Ptolemy. The map located a place called Sabara or Sabana in the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula (named the Golden Khersonese) where Singapore lies.[13][14] However, identification of Sabana or Sabara varies according to different authors.[15]

A 3rd century Chinese written record describes the island of Puluozhong (Chinese: 蒲羅中; pinyin: Púluōzhōng), probably a transcription of the Malay Pulau Ujong, "island at the end" (of the Malay peninsula).[16] Ninth century Arab sailors recorded a place called the island of Ma'it, which could be Singapore.[17] Arab sources also refer to a place called Betumah that some argued to be Bukit Timah (meaning "tin hill") of Singapore,[18] or that it was sited at or near Singapore,[19] although it has also been linked to other locations.[20]

 
Mao Kun map from Wubei Zhi, which is based on the early 15th century navigation maps of Zheng He, showing Temasek (淡馬錫) at the top left, and Long Ya Men (龍牙門) on the right panel.

It was recorded that in 1320, the Mongol Yuan Dynasty sent a mission to obtain elephants from a place called Long Ya Men (Chinese: 龍牙門; pinyin: Lóngyámén; literally: "Dragon's Teeth Gate"), known locally as Batu Berlayar in Malay, which is believed to be Keppel Harbour.[21][22]

Singapore is referred to in old Javanese and Malay literature as Temasek. The Nagarakretagama, a Javanese epic poem written in 1365, names a settlement on the island as Tumasik. The name appears twice in the Malay Annals. Temasek may have been derived from Tasik, the Malay word for "lake" or "sea", perhaps meaning "Sea Town".[18] The Chinese traveller Wang Dayuan, visiting the island around 1330, mentioned Danmaxi (Chinese: 單馬錫; pinyin: Dānmǎxí, written as 淡馬錫 in the Mao Kun map), which is a transcription of the Malay name Temasek. Wang described two settlements in Danmaxi: Long Ya Men and Ban Zu (班卒, Malay: pancur). In a version of Marco Polo's account of his travel, a place named Chiamassie that could be Temasik was mentioned in relation to the island kingdom of Malayur.[18] Temasik may have also been mentioned in Vietnamese records as Sach Ma Tich in the 14th century.[23] Chinese records continued to use the name Temasik for some time afterwards (for example in the Mao Kun map) even though its name had been changed to Singapura in the 14th century. Although the name was mentioned in Malay literature, the name Temasek had become obsolete and did not appear in European maps and documents from 1500 to 1800.[24] In colonial and more modern times, this early name for Singapore was revived and is now used by modern institutions and for national honours in Singapore.

Early European namesEdit

 
1604 map of Singapura by Portuguese cartographer Manuel Godinho de Erédia. Marked on the map are places such as Blacan mati (Sentosa), Xabandaria, Tana Mera, and Ujontana (the Malay Peninsula)

Early European visitors to the region gave Singapore a number of different names. Portuguese and Spanish sources may use the name Viontana for Ujong Tanah, a name that may also be used to refer to Johor or the lower part of the Malay Peninsula. Dutch maps of the 1600s and 1700s named the island as 't Lange Eyland or 't Lang Eiland ("The Long Island"), or the Malay equivalent Pulau Panjang, as well as Iatana for Ujong Tanah. A Flemish merchant named the island as Ysla de la Sabandaria Vieja, or "Island of the Old Shahbandar's House" (the Shahbandar or Portmaster's house was marked on some early maps near the mouth of Singapore River).[24] Xabandaria along with other place names of Singapore such as Tanah Merah and Blakang Mati (Sentosa) appear in a map by a Malay-Portuguese cartographer Godinho de Erédia drawn in 1604 and published in 1613.[25][26]

The name Singapura and its variants were used from 1500 to 1800, however, that up to the late 1700s, the name Singapura was more often used in relation to a strait rather than the island itself.[24] The Portuguese general Afonso de Albuquerque who conquered Malacca in fact claimed that Singapura was named after the strait.[27][28] The Strait of Singapore in the early period may refer to the southern portion of the Strait of Malacca or other stretches of water.[24] Before 1800, the use of the term Singapore was inexact with many variant spellings, for example, the name can be written as Cingaporla, Cincapula, and many other variations, and can refer to a number of geographical areas or entities, including the various straits and the southern portion of the Malay peninsula.[29] After the 1780s, the name Sinkapoor began to be commonly used on Dutch maps.[30] In English sources, Sincapore, Sincapure, Singahpura and other variants of Singapore were used in the 17th to 19th century, and although a few variants such as Singapoor and Singapure continued to appear for some time, Singapore would become the standard form in English in the 19th century.[31][32][33]

Local Chinese namesEdit

A number of names for Singapore were used by local Hokkien-speaking ethnic Chinese in early modern Singapore. In addition to the now standard Sin-ka-pho (新加坡), other names include Seng-ka-pho (星嘉坡 or 星加坡) and the derived short forms Seng-chiu (星洲; "Singapore Island") and Seng-kok (星國 "Singapore State").

Another name, Sit-la̍t (石叻) derived from the Malay word selat meaning "strait" (from Sit-la̍t-mn̂g [石叻門] another name for Longyamen)[34] and the derivatives or variants Sit-la̍t-po· (石叻埠), 'Si̍t-la̍t-po· (實叻埠), and La̍t-po· (叻埠) were also used.[35]

World War IIEdit

The Japanese renamed Singapore Shōnantō (昭南島?), from Japanese "Shōwa no jidai ni eta minami no shima" ("昭和の時代に得た南の島"?), or "southern island obtained in the age of Shōwa", and occupied it until the British repossessed the island on 12 September 1945, a month after the Japanese surrender.[36] The name Shōnantō was, at the time, romanised as Syonan-to or Syonan, where the characters 昭南 literally translate to "Light of the South".

Contemporary namesEdit

Singaporean languagesEdit

ChineseEdit

In written Chinese characters, the country's official name, "Republic of Singapore" is rendered as 新加坡共和国 in simplified Chinese and 新加坡共和國 in traditional Chinese. The full name of Singapore in different varieties of Chinese is:

  • Mandarin: Xīnjiāpō Gònghéguó
  • Hokkien: Sin-ka-pho Kiōng-hô-kok
  • Cantonese: Sāngabō Gùngwòhgwok
  • Hakka: Sîn-kâ-phô Khiung-fò-koet
  • Hokchiu: Sĭng-gă-pŏ̤ Gê̤ṳng-huò-guók

A nickname for the city is Shīchéng (Mandarin)/Sai-siâⁿ (Hokkien) (狮城), literally "Lion City." Modern historical names are retained as poetic or shorthand names for the island or country and include Xīngzhōu/Seng-chiu (星洲) and Xīngguó/Seng-kok (星國). Xīng, literally "star," is used as a homophone for the first syllable of "Singapore." Zhōu is a term for "island" while guó means "country" or "state." Xīngzhōu is used in names such as the Sin Chew Jit Poh (星洲日报), a newspaper in Singapore until the 1980s.

MalayEdit

The official name of the country in Malay is Republik Singapura and the Malay name is used for the country's motto and its national anthem of the same name, "Majulah Singapura".

TamilEdit

In Tamil, the country's name is Ciṅkappūr (சிங்கப்பூர்) and its official name is Ciṅkappūr Kuṭiyaracu (சிங்கப்பூர் குடியரசு, /siŋɡəppuːr kuɽijərəsɯ/).

Other languagesEdit

Nearly every language currently uses a name for Singapore derived from "Singapore" or "Singapura."

KhmerEdit

In the Khmer language, the country's name is Sernghakborey (សិង្ហបុរី) from the word សិង្ហ meaning "lion" and បុរី meaning "city". The official name of the country is ស឵ធ឵រណៈរដ្ឋសិង្ហបុរី, literally "Republic of Singapore". The French word "Singapour" is commonly spoken.

VietnameseEdit

Vietnamese either uses the word Singapore or Xin Ga Po for the country (and Cộng hòa Singapore or Cộng hòa Xin Ga Po for "Republic of Singapore") but has traditionally used versions taken from the hán tự 新加坡, namely Tân Gia Pha or Tân Gia Ba (and Tân Gia Ba Cộng hòa quốc for "Republic of Singapore" [新加坡共和國]). It has also used such hán tự-derived names other for historical names including Chiêu Nam for Shōnan (昭南) and Hạ Châu.

KoreanEdit

Likewise, Korea formerly used a Hanja-derived name for Singapore, Singapa (신가파), but now uses Singgaporeu (싱가포르).

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e C.M. Turnbull (30 October 2009). A History of Modern Singapore, 1819-2005. NUS Press. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-9971694302. 
  2. ^ a b "Temasek/Singapora". HistorySG. 
  3. ^ Sommerville, Maxwell (1894). The Encyclopædia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, and general literature, 9:22. Adam and Charles Black, London, United Kingdom. p. 94. 
  4. ^ Ernst Eichler (ed.). Namenforschung / Name Studies / Les noms propres. 1. Halbband. Walter de Gruyter. p. 905. ISBN 9783110203424. 
  5. ^ a b John N. Miksic (15 November 2013). Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300_1800. NUS Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-9971695743. 
  6. ^ a b c John N. Miksic (15 November 2013). Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300_1800. NUS Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-9971695743. 
  7. ^ "Sang Nila Utama Palembang" (PDF). 24hr Art. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 August 2006. Retrieved 14 April 2006. 
  8. ^ Dr John Leyden and Sir Thomas Stamford Rffles (1821). Malay Annals. p. 43. 
  9. ^ "Studying in Singapore". Search Singapore Pte Ltd. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2006. 
  10. ^ Tony O'Dempsey, Mark Emmanuel, John van Wyhe, Nigel P. Taylor, Fiona L.P. Tan, Cynthia Chou, Goh Hong Yi, Corinne Heng (30 October 2014). Nature Contained: Environmental Histories of Singapore. NUS Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-9971697907. 
  11. ^ "The National Day Webspecial". The Straits Times. 
  12. ^ Tan Ding Eing (1978). A Portrait of Malaysia and Singapore. Oxford University Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-0195807226. 
  13. ^ Hack, Karl. "Records of Ancient Links between India and Singapore". National Institute of Education, Singapore. Archived from the original on 26 April 2006. Retrieved 4 August 2006. 
  14. ^ John N. Miksic (15 November 2013). Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300_1800. NUS Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-9971695743. 
  15. ^ Paul Wheatley (1961). The Golden Khersonese: Studies in the Historical Geography of the Malay Peninsula before A.D. 1500. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press. pp. 151–152. OCLC 504030596. 
  16. ^ "Singapore: History, Singapore 1994". Asian Studies @ University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 7 July 2006. 
  17. ^ C.M. Turnbull (30 October 2009). A History of Modern Singapore, 1819-2005. NUS Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-9971694302. 
  18. ^ a b c Victor R Savage, Brenda Yeoh (15 June 2013). Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics. Marshall Cavendish. p. 381. ISBN 9789814484749. 
  19. ^ G. E. Gerini. "Researches on Ptolemy's geography of Eastern Asia (further India and Indo-Malay archipelago)". Asiatic Society Monographs. Royal Asiatic Society. 1909: 199–200. 
  20. ^ Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. p. 122. ISBN 9788185990910. 
  21. ^ "Singapore: Relations with Malaysia". Community Television Foundation of South Florida. 10 January 2006. Archived from the original on 22 December 2006. 
  22. ^ Edwin Lee (15 October 2008). Singapore: The Unexpected Nation. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 1–2. ISBN 978-9812307965. 
  23. ^ John N. Miksic (15 November 2013). Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300_1800. NUS Press. pp. 181–184. ISBN 978-9971695743. 
  24. ^ a b c d Peter Borschberg, ed. (December 2004). Iberians in the Singapore-Melaka Area and Adjacent Regions (16th to 18th Century). Harrassowitz. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-3447051071. 
  25. ^ Miksic, John N. (15 November 2013), Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300–1800, NUS Press, pp. 163–165, ISBN 978-9971695743 
  26. ^ "A Portugese Map of Sincapura". Biblioasia. National Library Board. 
  27. ^ "Singapura as "Falsa Demora"". Singapore SG. National Library Board Singapore. 
  28. ^ Afonso de Albuquerque (20 May 2010). The Commentaries of the Great Afonso Dalboquerque, Second Viceroy of India. Cambridge University Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-1108011549. 
  29. ^ Peter Borschberg (1 June 2009). The Singapore and Melaka Straits: Violence, Security and Diplomacy in the 17th Century. NUS Press. pp. 47–49. ISBN 978-9971694647. 
  30. ^ Peter Borschberg (1 June 2009). The Singapore and Melaka Straits: Violence, Security and Diplomacy in the 17th Century. NUS Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-9971694647. 
  31. ^ Michael Wise (15 December 2012). Travellers’ Tales of Old Singapore. Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Pte Ltd. ISBN 9789814677301. 
  32. ^ A New Geographical Dictionary. 1738. 
  33. ^ John Crawfurd (1820). History of the Indian Archipelago: Containing an account of the manners, arts, languages, religions, institutions, and commerce of its inhabitants. p. 265. 
  34. ^ 石叻 at Baidu Baike. (Chinese)
  35. ^ The syllable La̍t (叻) was used as shorthand for Singapore in terms such as the Hokkien name for the Straits Settlements, La̍t-sū-kah (叻嶼呷) where (嶼) refers to Penang (Pin-nn̂g-sū 檳榔嶼) and kah (呷) to Malacca (Mâ-la̍k-kah 麻六呷). Po· (埠) means a quay, port, or city.
  36. ^ Ron Taylor. "Fall of Malaya and Singapore". Retrieved 10 July 2007. 

External linksEdit