For those who are familiar with the Central and Soho area, you’ve probably come across the street sign “Rednalexa Terrace” once or twice before. While most people presume that this is a fatal spelling mistake, there are actually a few stories revolving around the origin of this street sign. According to one of the stories, originally the street name was supposed to be “Alexander Terrace” to commemorate the person who lived there, but since the translator was originally Chinese and was used to writing words form right to left, he switched the order of the letters and hence the name “Rednalexa” was born.
Although this urban legend is interesting and amusing, critics such as writer Gong Wah take on a more serious tone and explain why this mistake was not possible during the colonial era. During that time, fluency in English was a basic requirement for being a certified translator, therefore it would’ve been highly unlikely that the translator would misread the name from right to left. Even if the translator misread the letters from right to left, he would’ve misread the word “Terrace” as well and hence the street sign would be “Rednaxela Ecarret”. Also, when Hong Kong was under England’s colonial rule, the English were in charge of naming the streets. Therefore, they would’ve noticed such a grave mistake.
After careful research in the topic, writer Gong Wah discovered that there was an anti-slavery activist called Robert Alexander Young in the 19th century. In 1829 he published “Ethiopian Manifesto” , which was in defense of African people’s rights in the scale of universal freedom. In the manifesto, he referred to Africans residing outside of Africa as “Rednaxela” people. Therefore, the true meaning of the street name was to commemorate this African rights activist.
No matter what the true origin of the Rednalexa Terrace is, the Hong Kong government has decided to keep the original name to add some quirkiness to the history of the city.