Kashgar, Kashi, Kaxgar, Qexqer, Xinjiang, and Sinkiang

What’s in a name? Well, in the case of place names, they can help you do useful things like find your travel destination on a map, or search the internet for tourist info. In the case of Kashgar, it may be harder than you think. Why are there so many different ways to spell it? Are there different ways to say it? Which spelling is right? Here we will try to answer these questions

  1. Kashi (pronounced kah sher) is the “Pinyin” transliteration of the Mandarin Chinese name 喀什, which itself is a  hortened version of the original Mandarin name 喀什噶尔 (Pinyin: Ka Shi Ga Er). Historically Chinese also referred to the area as “Shu Le,” which is now a less significant town nearby Kashi.
  2. Qexqer is a transliteration of the Uyghur قەشقەر. Another transliteration system writes it “Qeshqer.” Q represents an voiceless uvular stop (a “K” sound made the tongue touching the the soft palate). X is pronounced “sh.”
  3. Kashgar is the standard English spelling that has been used for many decades. We recommend this one.
  4. Kaxgar seems to mix the above transliteration systems. It is neither an accurate transliteration of a local language nor a standard English spelling of the name.
  5. Xinjiang or Sinkiang? There are several systems for transliteration Mandarin Chinese. Most are now largely defunct. The previously popular Wade-Giles transliteration system wrote 新疆 as “Sinkiang.” The modern “Pinyin” standard writes “Xinjiang.” In Mandarin, 新疆 is pronounced sheen jyang.

The amazing blend of culture and language found in this land of extremes continues to intrigue the world. Whether you plan to visit Kashgar, Kashi or Qeshqer, we hope you thoroughly enjoy the diversity.

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