A Note About Language
Astute readers will recognize that this book is based on the life of the Chinese woman pirate known popularly by such names as Cheng I Sao, Zheng Yi Sao, Ching Shih, and Shih Yang. The trouble is, in real life no one called her by any of those names. Such spellings are transliterations from the Mandarin (Putonghua) readings of her name. Putonghua may be the “official” language of China, but the people in this story would never have spoken it in daily life, if they even spoke it at all.
The dominant language of the south China coast was, and remains, Cantonese. For this simple reason, names of people and places in this book are written as they would have been spoken: using Cantonese pronunciation.