皇家山脚水仙门

俗称皇家1山脚的禧街战前旧景,

自宋元以来,福建泉州便是通南洋地区的主要商港,南洋华人地名多以闽南语称呼,但新加坡开埠后官方译名也有不少依粤语音译的例子。

  福康宁山(Fort Canning Hill)过去是殖民地总督的官邸所在,俗称”皇家山”,其山脚的”禧街”(Hill Street)俗称”皇家山脚”;”脚”是闽南语”底下”之意,在山丘底下叫山脚,而在一片竹林底下的地方就叫”竹脚”。

不少粤语发音的街名

  一个曾在50年代在马来亚当差的英国警官告诉我,当年派到新马的警官,都会学习基本的粤语或者闽南语,当时他的许多同僚选择学粤语,因为他们觉得如果懂得粤语,除了到马来亚,还有派驻到香港的机会。

  20世纪初年,政府推出官方华文译名,有理由相信许多华文街名的译法,跟翻译的官员语言背景有关,并也参照了香港的经验。

  其中不少是依据粤语发音的音译街名,比如早期用”星架坡”,”Road”译成”律”,马来乡村”Kampong”译成”监光”或”甘光”。”Hill Street”的官方译名是”禧街”,”禧”也是粤语音译词。

  开埠初年,新加坡河南岸是沼泽地,船只停靠在北岸,登陆后入城的地段是谐街,福南街,哥里门街与桥北路吊桥头等地方,这一带俗称”水仙门”。

‘水仙门’就是登陆口岸

  对”水仙门”名称的来源,几十年来流行因该地水仙花市而得名的说法;几年前也曾提出这是跟登岸入城的口岸有关的看法。我认为其源头可追溯到宋代的泉州,当时泉州海关设在南薰门,南薰门旁有座水仙宫,供奉商人和船员的海上保护神”水仙尊王”。南薰门俗称”水仙门”或”水门”,进城的海关入口因此也叫”水仙门”。

  在1853年出版的一本厦语与英语对照字典里,其中”Gangway”一条的翻译就用”水仙门”,而”Gangway”指轮船船边放下的斜梯或走道,就是”入口”意思。依此推断,泉州人后来把登陆口岸叫”水仙门”的称呼,先带到马六甲,再用于新加坡。

  其实本地许多民间俗称的来源,都是代代口耳相传,大多没有进一步考证。我们在民间旧俗称快要在老人的记忆中消失之际,得为本土民间记忆做点工作。

(吴庆辉, 联合晚报27-8-2014)

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