Tian’anmen, not Tiananmen

I’m certainly not expecting the Western media to start writing Tiān’ānmén (天安門/天安门) with tone marks. But its it’s not like the apostrophe is an obscure glyph to be found only in specialist typefaces that dig deep into Unicode, the sort of thing that might require an English form separate from the Pinyin one.

Microsoft Word certainly isn’t helping matters, as it flags the correct form (Tian’anmen) as a misspelling but does not flag the apostrophe-less form (Tiananmen).

screenshot from Microsoft Word, showing that 'Tian'anmen', unlike 'Tiananmen', is marked as misspelled

Indeed, if you ask the program to help you with the supposedly misspelled “Tian’anmen”, it suggests “Tiananmen”.

screen shot of Microsoft Word's spell checker suggesting 'Tiananmen' as a replacement for 'Tian'anmen'

So my guess would be that the “Tiananmen” form is the result of a combination of (1) the Cupertino effect, (2) laziness, and (3) people thinking that Tian’anmen “looks funny”.


And as long as I’m on this, it’s not Tian An Men, TianAnMen, Tienanmen, Tianan men, etc., either.

But, no, I don’t expect this will do much good; and if I ever work myself into a case of apostrophe rage it will probably be for other names.

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