Thursday, August 5, 2010


hokkien names for roads and places

sio poh hai kee and thih pa sat

my parents' generation knew these roads and places by their hokkien names. when i went to keng lee road, i would tell them that i had gone to 'ang keo thau'. my uncles and aunts were at one time living at 'si kar teng', until their houses were razed in the big fire. i also remember my mother referring to a place called 'sua tee'. i am not sure where that is; it could be somewhere in tampines where there were many sand quarries.

below is a list of those roads and places i can remember.



albert street - kum pong bangkulu (kampong bencoolen)

alexandra road - lau chi kha

arab street - jiauwa koi

balestier road (near towner road) - goh chor tua pek kong

balestier road end - mang ka kha

battery road - tho kho orr

beach road - sio po hai kee; ji chap keng

boat quay - tiam peng lor thau

bras basah road - lau kho khen khau

bukit ho swee area - si kar teng

bukit timah road - beh chia lor boi

chinatown - goo chia chwee

china street - kiau keng cheng

clifford pier - ang teng beh tau

clyde terrace market - thih pa sat

fort canning - ong ke swa kha

ganges avenue/havelock road - orh kio thau

henderson road - poh lay long

hokkien street - beh chia koi

johore - sin swa

kallang gaswork - hway siah

kandang kerbau road - tek kha

keng lee road - ang kio thau

merchant road - cha choon thau

middle road - sio po ang moh pah thi (european foundry)

middleton hospital - orr sai (black lion)

nicoll highway - tok lip kio (independence bridge)

north bridge road - jee beh lor

petain road - keng jeo kha

queen street - sar beh lor

serangoon garden - ang sar lee

singapore general hospital - si peh por (sepoy)

south bridge road - tua po tua beh lor

sungei road - kek sng kio

telok ayer - kiau keng khau

waterloo street - si beh lor

do you have any more to add to the list?

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi. I used to stay at Upper Serangoon and they used to call it luck kor cheo (6th mile), while Punggol end was called Kangkar :-)
WL

Icemoon said...

Can I ask what is jee bear loh?

I thought north bridge road will be like small po tua beh lor.

Icemoon said...

hokkien street - beh chia koi

Haha, Hokkiens call their own street horse cart street?

How about Amoy Street then? Amoy Koi?

yg said...

icemoon, it is usually called 'jee beh lor' meaning second horse carriage road. i don't know exactly which part of north bridge road it referred to.

yg said...

anonymous, yes, i missed out luck kor cheo (6th mile). i think punggol end was not kangkar. i had been to kangkar when it was still around. if i am not wrong, it was at the end of upper serangoon road. there was a village (serangoon village) at kangkar.

yg said...

there are a few other places i have missed out:

gor chang chiew kar (pak tor place)

hai lam sua

khek lang sua

gor pah keng

Anonymous said...

'Sua Ti' refers to the Potong Pasir area off Upper Serangoon Road. It was a preodominant Teochew enclave in the old days, and was quite a notorious area infested with secret society activities. Any outsider, young or old, venturing into the area, would be accosted by the 'locals' and subject to threats and abuse, verbally and physically. I remembered an occasion when my schoolmates from the nearby Sennett Estate Pr Sch went to look for a school friend staying in Potong Pasir. We were stopped by a group of young ruffians who asked us "chit tor to loh?", the Teochew equivalent of "What number do you belong to?" (asking what ss group we belonged to). Luckily for us, our friend appeared on the scene and we were let off with only verbal threats and nothing more.

Icemoon said...

I think the jee beh lor could be Victoria Street. A bit inconsistent if South Bridge Road is tua beh lor, then cross the river become jee beh lor - demotion, haha

Victor said...

Icemoon is right. Jee Beh Lor is Victoria Street. I know 'cos it's near my old place.

YG, although I'm Cantonese, I know that Boat Quay is called Jar Zhun Thau. How on earth did you get Tiam Peng Lor Thau?

I think you also missed out Pek Kio ("white bridge" or Owen Road). BTW, a student asked me about the origin of this name recently. Was there a white bridge in the vicinity of Owen Road in the old days?

yg said...

anonymous, thks for the info. i can vaguely remember seeing huge ponds at potong pasir when it was a farm area.

yg said...

icemoon and victor, i am not able to clarify this with my mom cos she does not remember most things. since victor once lived in the vicinty, then i think 'jee beh lor' is victoria street. however, an old (80-yr old)friend told me victoria st was also known as 'au beh cha lor'.

yg said...

victor, i do not know how the name 'pek kio' came about. if there was a white bridge, it would have been on keng lee road side, near to dorset road.

Anonymous said...

yg, oh yes, my bad. Kangkar was supposed to be the end of Upper Serangoon Road, not Punggol. I remember the fishing boats there.

Besides luck kor cheo, there was also gor kor cheo, near Lim Tua Tow Road.

I also just remembered Ang Teng which is supposed to be Clifford Pier?

WL

PChew said...

I know the following:

North Brigde Road = Tua Beh Lor
Victoria Street = Jee Beh Lor
Queen Street = Sar Beh Lor
Waterloo Street = Si Beh Lor
Bencoolen Street = Gor Beh Lor
Princep Street = Luck Beh Lor
Middle Road = Tiong Lor
The area around South Bridge Road is known as Tua Poh and North Bridge Road area as Sio Poh.
At Bencoolen Street nearer to Middle Road lived a Hokkien dialect group known as Chiow Wan. There was a sewage plant where all human wastes were brought there dailly for disposal. The stench was unbearable for passers by. But those living there were used to it.

Anonymous said...

Anyone heard of Ku Ah Sua (tortoise hill)? Probably somewhere near SGH area.

Also Seng Kee Sua(raise flag hill) is Mt Faber right?

Of course, Ang Sua is Redhill.

Anonymous said...

Brash Basah Road was known in Hokkien as 'Teck Kok Seng Ong'?

St Joseph's Institution was referred by the locals as Sar Er Ang Kong Kia'?

Why so? Thanks

Icemoon said...

Princep Street = Luck Beh Lor

I think Selegie Rd could be Qi Beh Lor (Seventh Road). But then looking at the map today, the honour should go to Short St? Selegie Rd not even parallel to the other six.

lol .. SJI is ang kong kia? Sounds like a primary school. If I were to venture a guess, Raffles Institution could be pek pu ang kong kia, haha

yg said...

victor, maybe older people also got places mixed up, like i get choa chu kang and lim chu kang mixed up. tiam pang lor thau is 'the place to go for sampans'. so, cha choon thau wasn't at merchant road?

yg said...

sji referred to as 'sar er ang kong kia'. could it be referring to the sculpture of the father (priest) and the two children?

Uncle Phil said...

I need help here
Sua kia teng?
Aw Kio Tau?
Ang Kio Tau?
Ku Chai Pa?
Sai Long?
Goh Chang Chew Ka?
Ang Teng?
Si Lang Kueh?
Kam Ngai Ng?
Ku Chai Pah?
Kun Kang?

Thanks.

PChew said...

Sai Long is sewage pumping station at Bencoolen Street
Goh Chang Chew Ka refers to the Esplanade opposite City Hall
Ang Teng was the former Clifford Pier
Si Lang Kueh refers to Sago Street
Kun Kang was the former Naval Base at Sembawang

yg said...

phil, thks to philip chew, you have most of the answers.
aw kio tau is ganges ave/havelock road and ang kio tau is keng lee road/kg java rd. do not know the answers to ku chai pa and sua kia teng. sua kia teng could be a general name for a rural area.

FL said...

Also, there are Cantonese names for some places, like hoi san kai, kwong hak yuen kai, hei yuen kai, etc. Malay names for places, eg. Wayang Satu. How about places named after storeys, like Tanglin Halt 16 storeys, Pickering St 9 storeys, etc.

yg said...

fl, i am not a cantonese, so i know only a few cantonese names like ngoi chay sooi (for chinatown) and hak kai (for bugis street).

Lam Chun See said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
yg said...

phil, i have found out where 'sua kia teng' is. it referred to chulia street. sua kia teng means on top of a hillock.
there is a 'eng chai par' but no 'ku chai par'. eng chai par covered the spottiswoode park and everton road area.

Lam Chun See said...

YG. You left out the most important one of all; Chui Arm Lor.

Others I have blogged about here are:

Sar Ko Chio (Three Mile Stone) – Near Woodsville Circus at the junction of Serangoon Road, Macpherson Road and Bendemeer Road. There used to be many open-air hawker stalls here.

Si Ko Chio (4 Mile Stone) - The junction of Upper Serangoon Road with Braddell and Bartley Roads. Further down there used to be a market at Lim Tua Tow Road and this place was Gor Ko Chio (5 Miles Stone).

yg said...

icemoon, you are right about selegie road being qi beh lor.

yg said...

anonymous, yes, to the hokkiens, bras basah road was 'tek kok seng long' because of a popular german pharmacy located in that place. to the hakkas, it was 'thong kwong sen kei'.

yg said...

while searching for the answers to the questions posed by some readers, i came across some other places i have heard about in my younger days. they include:

phak chiok koi (stonemasons street)
thai too long (pig abattoir)
phak thih koi (blacksmiths street)
pek sua pu (floating white sand)

do you know the names of these places?

yg said...

chun see, i know that's your old kampong. i might have heard that name before but i did not know where it was until i read your blog.

Uncle Phil said...

Yg, is phak chiok also known as kong chiok. I think it is Havelock Road as my great grandmother was living there in the 50s.

PChew said...

I remembered there was a Chang Mou Hng which was at Eunos HDB estate and Ku Chai Pah was further up at Upper Paya Lebar/Lor Tai Seng.

yg said...

phil, phak chiok koi was jalan sultan. those days i used to see the masons doing the engraving on tombstones.i have also heard of kong chiok. maybe there were also stonemasons at havelock road.

yg said...

philip, the chiow wan are considered hokkien but i think culturally, they are closer to the teochew. they preferred to watch teochew wayang to hokkien wayang.
according to a chiow wan friend who went back to his ancestral home in china, the chiow wan are squeezed between the hokkien (xiamen) and the teochew (swatow)

actually, in the 50s and 60s, there were many of them living in the kampong kapor area. many gangsters were chiow wan. lorong tai seng, a former gangland area, also had a sizeable number of chiow wan. si kar teng also had chiow wan and gangsters.

i know all this because i am half chiow wan but i was never a gangster.

they also migrated to parts of malaysia. i have met chiow wan in kuching (sarawak) and sungei rengit (johor).

PChew said...

Yes, they lived at Kg Kapor area too. But many lived at Bencoolen St, close to their workplace - the night soil pumping station.

yg said...

philip,

yes, quite a number of night soil carriers were chiow wan. in those days, the chiow wan occupied one of the lowest strata of society. they were also hawkers, coolies and trishaw riders.

yg said...

phil, there was a jalan kuchai of jalan ubi (not far from paya lebar/lot tai seng mentioned by pchew). there was a kampong kuchai near lorong 3 geylang. the ministry of culture used to screen free film shows at kg kuchai in the 60s.

Icemoon said...

Hoi San Kai mentioned by FL is actually Upper Cross St. The dialect name is preserved today, not on the street sign but in a metro station - read my research.

yg said...

icemoon, hokkien call it hai san koai.

yg said...

thai too long (the municipal abattoir) was at french road.
phak thih koi was sultan's gate.
pek sua pu was bugis st.

doris said...

wow. brings back memories of my long- gone mother's days as she used to use all these street names. there is also a hainan hne (hynanese village) which i came across in lak ko chiok. the words are proudly emblazoned on the fascade of the building.

yg said...

doris, i didn't know there was a hainanese village at lak ko chiok. in the 70s, our hainanese ah kor liang kim hin used to take us to middle road (hylam ee) to eat steamboat. naerby was hylam jee (purvis street) and hylam sar (seah street).

yg said...

some corrections to the names of places in hokkien:

kiau keng khau was china street, not telok ayer st

si kar teng was lower delta road, not bukit ho swee specifically

-丽ing- said...

I chanced upon your blog thru stumble upon one day. I would like to comment that your blog is highly informative, and has provided me with a good read on a nearly daily basis. I am a Singaporean, born in the 80s. Embarrassingly, I am of the teochew ethnic, i can understand, but I cannot speak much of the language.

Much as I am interested in the history of singapore, It is shameful to admit that I am unaware of alot of history that forms the basis of Singapore and its society. I am glad to have found your blog. It has educated me on things that I have not learnt or heard of.

I read somewhere in this blog that you are a retired teacher. Your students have been so blessed to have you teach them. Thank you for your wealth of information. I am eternally grateful that I have chanced upon this treasure trove of information.

Please keep up the good work!

Regards,
Lydia

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