Penang street names in Hokkien that relates to local history

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The streets in Penang especially in George Town city are mostly built since the colonial era and most of the street names are predominantly in English, until when the National Language Act 1967 is implemented, a government policy which determines Malay language is to be used for all official purposes. Although new street names are given in Malay language, most of the colonial street names especially in George Town are retained for historical purposes.

As Penang is a place famous for its unique hokkien language, and spoken not only by the Chinese, but also Penangites from other ethnic backgrounds, many of the streets have Hokkien names to it. Suprisingly, the Hokkien street names have little relation to the colonial names, but is related to the historical background of the exact location instead.

Let’s explore some of the unique hokkien street names in Penang.

Burma Road

車水路 Chhia-chúi-lơ̄, named after the aqueduct that ran along the road

Jalan Gurdwara

風車路 Hong-chhia-lơ̄ named after the winnowing machines used to separate rice from chaff.

penang Penang street names in Hokkien that relates to local history brickkilnroad

Jalan Dato’ Keramat

柑仔園 Kam-á-hûiⁿ, named after a former mandarin orange plantation there.

Campbell Street

新街 Sin-ke, which means New street, alternatively 新雞 (new prostitutes), where it used to be the red-light district of George Town.

penang Penang street names in Hokkien that relates to local history lebuhcampbell

Lebuh Buckingham

新街頭 Sin-ke-thaû, which means at the beginning of Campbell Street.

penang Penang street names in Hokkien that relates to local history lebuhbuckingham

Cintra Street

拍袍街 Phah-phaù-ke, which used to be the street with the lower type of brothels.

Barrack Road

兵房路 Peng-pâng-lơ̄, translated literally from Barrack Road

Malay Street

刣牛後 Thâi-gû-aū, named after the cattle slaughterhouse at the back of the street.

penang Penang street names in Hokkien that relates to local history lebuhmelayu 1024x768

Lorong Ikan

鹹魚仔巷 Kiâm-hû-á-hāng, famous for making and drying salted fish.

penang Penang street names in Hokkien that relates to local history LorongIkan

Church Street

義興街 Gī-hin-ke, named after the association house of Ghee Hin secret society which is located at the street.

penang Penang street names in Hokkien that relates to local history LebuhGereja

Victoria Street

海墘新路 Haí-kiⁿ-sin-lơ̄, meaning new road by the waterfront, which used to be at the waterfront before the land is reclaimed.

penang Penang street names in Hokkien that relates to local history lebuhvictoria

Magazine Circus

六叉路 La̍k-chhē-lơ̄, which describes the road with six junctions until the demolition of Gladstone Road and the construction of Komtar.

King Street

亞片公司街 À-phièn-kong-si-ke, named after the Opium and Spirit Farm Offices at the junction with China Street.

Muntri Street

南華醫院街 Lâm-hoa-i īⁿ-ke, name after the Lam Wah Ee Hospital that used to be there.

penang Penang street names in Hokkien that relates to local history LebuhMuntri 1024x538

Lorong Selamat

平安街 Phêng-an-ke, a literal translation from the Malay word.

There are still a lot of names in local languages or dialect, what story do you know about it? Share it with us.

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