Why do several mtr stations' chinese names (traditional chinese) contain characters with repeated radicals? These characters do not really form an english word but individually have a meaning, so I wonder the reason. My question may become clearer when I provide the examples below:






  • 銅鑼,金鐘,筲箕(灣),石硤(尾) are geographical (proper) names,
    – user6065
    Jun 28, 2017 at 9:38
  • cf。Yip Po-Ching, CL, agglutinated juxtaposition, 连绵词,2 mononyms share identical element, usually radical, partially homographetic motivation behind word plays just as important a role as word's characteristic disyllabicity, e.g. 玻璃、鸶鹭、蟋蟀、蝴蝶、蝌蚪、鹦鹉、骐麟、骐骥、骷髅、傀儡、狐狸、玫瑰、磨菇、葡萄、蓓蕾、桠杈(丫杈)、饕餮、many more at baike.baidu.com/item/%E8%BF%9E%E7%BB%B5%E8%AF%8D
    – user6065
    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:48
  • To be honest, the question doesn't have any relationship with 连绵词. Jun 29, 2017 at 14:11
  • also "磨菇"represents a serious error, it seems user should have typed "蘑菇"
    – user6065
    Jun 29, 2017 at 15:43
  • @user6065 Thanks I kind of understand what you are getting at but could you elaborate further? That webiste is in chinese which I cannot read
    – udidosa
    Jun 30, 2017 at 1:59

2 Answers 2


Because radicals indicate the meaning of the character. For example, 銅鑼 literally means bronze (銅) gong (鑼). Both are phono-semantic compounds and metal-related – the 金 radical on the left side, and their pronunciation on the right side. The name 銅鑼灣 came from the shape of the bay, which is like a gong. You cannot remove any radicals, otherwise the entire meaning of the word would be unclear.

  • Harry, your answer is the most logical so I've accepted it as the correct one. However, I'd like to learn more about phono-semantic compounds. Since these words - bronze(銅) and gong(鑼) are created by adding the radical 金 to the right-half of the characters, does this mean there are infinite possibilities of these characters. I mean, just by adding a radical to a character, I can create a new proper character? By the way, while you say 銅鑼灣 is meaning bell-shaped bay, the official English name is 'Causeway Bay'. Any idea if this has any relation to the chinese meaning?
    – udidosa
    Jun 30, 2017 at 2:08
  • @Urvil Theoretically, you can do any combination with the phonetic part and the semantic part -- that's how these word came into being thousands of years ago. And along the history, new character are made continually with rules like phono-semantic compunding. However, in reality, there are no such huge amount of concepts that run out of all combinations. And only a few are proper ones, with common understanding and a stable meaning, and displayable on PC. Language is just such a thing that people all agree on. So you can create new, but your creation may not be accepted by others. Jun 30, 2017 at 5:51
  • @Urvil Most English place names in Hong Kong are consistent with Chinese ones, either in pronounciation, or meaning. However, Causeway Bay is an exception, I guess it's because both version of its names were developed long time ago, so that they all reach a large mount of acceptance and understanding in English and Chinese-speaking community respectively. So the tradition lasts till today. Jun 30, 2017 at 6:09
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    @HarrySummer Causeway Bay is not the only exception. Admiralty (Station) and Stanley are some other examples. Even locals are confused about the naming. And if you count the streets and roads in, it's even worse.
    – KH.Lee
    Jul 3, 2017 at 13:24

This is just my guess: In the beginning, a word with double consonant has no written form, and people borrow (假借) two characters for that, giving both the same radical (部首) in accordance of its category of meaning.

See: 窟窿和孔是古汉语里一个词的两个不同写法吗? (If you cannot read much Chinese, I will try to find some other resource in English for you.)

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