There were at least two major linguistic groups present among the Chinese in West Borneo during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: the Teochew (Chaozhou) and the Hakka (Kejia). Their languages and activities were very different. The Teochew were mostly traders and craftsmen and therefore tended to concentrate more in the coastal cities. The Hakka made up the majority of the miners of the more inland mining communities. Besides the Teochew, we find the South Hokkiennese (Minnan), whose language is close to Teochew but not close enough to be mutually understandable. The Hakka spoke different dialects, the main distinction being that of the true Kejia of Jiayingzhou (Meizhou) with that of the Banshanke of Chaozhou and Huizhou.

Some authors, like Schaank and De Groot, did use scientifically correct systems of transcription, but the majority of Western authors just noted the Chinese words as they heard them, or as they had been noted down by their predecessors. This has resulted in a bewildering chaos of different transcriptions, sometimes posing the historian with almost unsolvable problems. For instance, for the name of the famous Lanfang kongsi we find: Lanong (in Tobias). For association (Mandarin: hui), we find oewee, foei, hee, hoe, wei and even fi! The important leader of the Montrado zongting, Zheng Hong, is known as Tjhang Fen, Tjang Pin, etc. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that many persons are known by their familiar appellation or nickname, such as Sing Sang for xiensheng (master), meaning the secretary of the zongting. A famous Sing Sang, and therefore during a given time in Dutch eyes the Kapitein Chinees Sing Sang  was Zhu Fenghua (often written Tjoe-Foeng-Fa).

      It has been essential for this study to identify correctly the different persons, place-names and institutions rendered with such a large array of transcriptions and appellations. For this, I have chosen to re-transcribe all Chinese words in Mandarin, using the now current Pinyin transcription. An invaluable tool for this has been Schaanks study of Montrado: he mentions a great number of names and places, always adding the Chinese characters. Also his excellent study of the dialect of the Banshanke of Lufeng (Het Loeh-foeng-dialect) has been very useful. Thanks to these sources, I have been able to compile tables of correspondences, systematically adding all the different terms we encountered and providing the Mandarin transcription whenever that was possible (these tables are added in the appendices). Thanks to these tables, I have been able us to reconstruct the Mandarin transcription also for those names or terms of which I did not have the corresponding characters.

The equivalences of the Mandarin pronounciation could not be made in any truly linguistically coherent way. I do not master the Teochew and Hakka languages concerned, and even if I did, the dialects spoken in West Borneo two centuries ago would be hard to reconstruct, especially because, as we have seen, the variety of transcriptions one encounters makes this unfeasible. As for the corresponding characters, except for those instances where, as in Schaanks work or in the chronicle of the Lanfang kongsi, they are actually given, there is of course no way of being certain. In some instances I have just tried to make educated guesses.

Here follow some of the main equivalences:







(Lim-Sam-On = Lin Sanan ´)






(Padyan = Bayan )






(see above, Lim = Lin)






(Lioe-A-Sin = Liu Asheng )






(Ngi-tjong = Ni Zhang )






(Ngan-Tshe = Yan Zhu )






(Ng-Djin-Tsioek = Wu Yinzu Ӧ)


O, oo




(Lo-Fong-Pak = Luo Fangbo ޷)






(see above, Fong = fang)






(Lioe Tshoi = Liu Cai )






(Lioe-Liong-Kwon = Liu Liangguan )


Tj, tj



z, zh

(Tjoe Hao = Zhu Hao )





c, ch

(Koe Tjin = Gu Chen)


The above equivalences are just some examples, without any attempt at a systematic or exhaustive presentation. 

      In view of the many remaining uncertainties, I am aware that I am open to criticism for having transcribed the names and terms of Hakka or Teochew, and other dialects of Chinese into Mandarin, a language the Chinese of West Borneo at the time did not speak themselves. To this I can only say that this was the only possible way to unify all the different forms of transcription. I have done the best I could, checked and rechecked all my sources to find clues as to the correct way of writing a person's name or a given term. I hope that future research may correct the many inevitable mistakes I have made. To this I should add that it is generally accepted usage in Chinese studies to transcribe names and terms in Mandarin, and therefore write Han Wudi or Hanlin and Li Bai, even if during the Han or the Tang these words surely were pronounced quite differently! If we can make use of Mandarin for the history of the Chinese mainland, then this should be also acceptable for the historical persons and institutions of the Chinese of West Borneo.

      The consistent transcription into Mandarin has not only allowed me to unify all Chinese names and terms throughout this work, but also to clarify more than once important terms or discover important persons. Terms like petompang became understandable once I found that it corresponded to  bantangfan Ʒ that is: half Chinese savage. People like Liu Zhengbao (Tampoko), Zhu Fenghua (Sing Sang), Liu Taier (Kapitein Demang), Wu Changgui (Tjong-Kwee), Zheng Hong (Tjan Pin), Chen Sanbo (Assam), once the many different ways by which they were called had been unified, became more like the historical figures they were, instead of  remaining obscure and almost anonymous rebels in the jungle of West Borneo.



BKI     Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch-Indië

IG        Indische Gids

KT       Koloniaal Tijdschrift

TBG    Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, uitgegeven door het  

            (Koninklijk) Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen

TNI      Tijdschrif voor Neerlandsch Indië