There is this Chinese city called 泉州. Mandarin: Quánzhōu. Cantonese: Cyun4-zau1. Hakka: Chhièn-chû. Min Nan: Chôan-chiu. Pronunciations found here. Wikipedia adds a local Hokkien: Chôan-chiu. Here I get Teochew: Zuan5-ziu1. Couldn't find Min Dong or Gan or other dialects, but those shouldn't matter. Postal romanization: Chinchew. Now, "chew" obviously renders the "chiu" of Min Nan and/or "ziu" of Teochew. But where did that "chin" come from? Is the postal romanisation a weird hybrid of a misheard Cantonese "cyun" (misheard as *cin and spelled chin consequently) and a correctly heard Min Nan / Teochew "ciu"/"ziu" or is there more to this?


2 Answers 2


泉州,簡稱泉或鯉,又稱刺桐城、清源、溫陵。 Although 清 can be transliterated as chin, it does not seem to be the reason.

Quanzhou, formerly known as Chinchew.
The Postal Map name of the city was (note: should be "is") "Chinchew", a variant of Chincheo, the Portuguese and Spanish transcription of Chiāng-chiu.
It is uncertain when or why British sailors first applied the name to Quanzhou. Variants include Kangiu, Chinchu, and Chincheu.

所以,Chinchew 是從葡萄牙語、西班牙語的 Chiāng-chiu 轉譯而來。

  • More precisely, it probably stems from the Quanzhou pronunciation of Zhangzhou, which, according to the Wiktionary, is "Tsing-tsiu".
    – MickG
    Mar 18, 2017 at 11:20
  • Looked up Zhangzhou because the Wiki page you linked (the English one) mentioned Zhangzhou as "the major port trading with Macao and Manila in the 16th and 17 centuries".
    – MickG
    Mar 18, 2017 at 11:34
  • So, Chinchew was used by 漳州 first, and then "stolen or robbed" by 泉州 till today. 漳州 became Changchow first, and then Zhangzhou. Very interesting.
    – vuluvsa
    Mar 18, 2017 at 13:14

the internet archive has a copy of the book "the city of springs: or, mission work in chinchew", which is published in the year 1902:


on page 25, it stated:

The name Chinchew, now so familiar to us, is merely an anglicised form of Tsuien-chow, being the northern or mandarin pronunciation of the name. In the Amoy language it is pronounced Tsoan- chiu. Tsoan — spring or fountain, and chiu — a city whose resident mandarin ranks as a prefect. The whole may be translated City of Springs.

enter image description here

it's an very interesting book, with numerous illustrations, have a read if you're not in that "area". well, internet archive is blocked in . . . :(

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