Origins of Khor Ewe Pin

Can Sinoglot readers puzzle out the romanized version of a name of Chinese origins? Chris Waugh writes:

Got an email from a friend about a Malaysian Chinese author whose name is Khor Ewe Pin/许友彬, a bit of googling and threw up an article in Bahasa Melayu that gave as his bahasa ‘Kantonis’ and ‘Bahasa Inggeris’ and ‘Bahasa Melayu’. A bit more googling suggested Khor is a possible romanisation of 许 in Malaysia. I made a thoroughly uneducated guess based on that Bahasa: Kantonis that Khor may be Cantonese, but neither of us has managed to find any more…. I was wondering if somebody in the Phonemica or Sinoglot communities might be able to answer this question: what ‘lect is Khor Ewe Pin? Thoughts?

5 responses to “Origins of Khor Ewe Pin”

  1. Sima says:

    I’ve been reading some old – 17th Century – description of China. It’s tied my pinyin circuits in knots and will post about it here at some point. Something that jumps out though is how many romanised Chinese names are affected much more by the language they are first translated to, rather than the dialect they’re translated from. This is probably very obvious to western students of Chinese history, and maybe less obvious to students of Chinese language.

    Rather than looking at which dialect a romanised form came from, why not consider the language in which it was first ‘translated’?

    Latin clearly had an early impact, but Portuguese influence was also significant.

    In the case of Malaysia, might Portuguese or Dutch language issues come into play?

  2. Eric says:

    Mr Khoh may be a Cantonese speaker, but his name is clearly romanised from Minnan. In Cantonese it would be Hui Yau-ban (/hɵy˧ jɐu˩˧ pɐn˥/).

    I find it rather amusing amusing that 友 (which would be iú in POJ) gets turned into “Ewe”, as if whoever romanised it was looking for an English word that sort of matched the sound no matter how irregularly spelled, rather than find a sequence of letters which more directly represented the desired sound.

    It reminds me of a Korean business card I once saw: “One Hill Park”. The hangul was 박원일 (Bak Won-il; in Hanja presumably 朴元一 or something similar). I suppose whoever romanised it had been exposed to a dialect of English where the “h” in hill became silent.

  3. Terry Khor says:

    The name comes from the romanized translation of a dialect “Teow Chew” 潮洲which is a region in the Canton Province of China. Most Chinese in Malaysia would have their names translated based on the “mother tongue”, which could be any of the Chinese dialects, depending on the origin of their ancestry; and in most cases, it would be from the southern part of China, such as 廣東,福建,海南,客家,潮洲 etc.

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