Friday, October 26, 2007

Tambon spelling

The romanization of Thai words is always a pain, everyone uses his own system, and some even use different transcriptions of the same word in one text. For example เมืองพล can be transcribed as Mueang Phon, Muang Pon or Müang Phol, and many more variations. The Royal Institute created a transcription standard named Royal Thai General System of Transcription (RTGS), which has its weaknesses, but at least gives rather good spellings for an English reader. Wirote Aroonmanakun even created a software which can do a machine transcription, at least for most cases.

For quite some time it already has a list of recommended spellings for the districts and provinces. Earlier this year the Department of Provincial Administration published a book with the recommended spelling of all the subdistricts, which is also available online. Sadly it is only a PDF, thus I had to compare these new spellings with those created by the machine transcription tool manually.

That document also included the suggested translations of the terms changwat, amphoe, king amphoe, tambon and muban - now finally making it clear that a minor district and a subdistrict is not the same. Too bad they did not include the local administrative entities in that, especially for the word thesaban tambon a lot of different translations are used.

I sent my corrections to DOPA, but did not get any reply to my email. I just hope it was read and will incoportate my changes in the next version, and will consider my suggestions of a XLS or plain text version as well.


potipiroon said...


Thank you so much for your interest in the name spelling of our administrative units.

I was one of the key people who created the publication and would be more than willing to make any changes that are "approved" by the Royal Institute.

I am not sure whom you had emailed the corrections to but could you please send them to my email? I will forward them to my colleagues who are still working in the Foreign Relations Group.

The publication was placed online in the PDF form for one major reason: we do not want anyone to make any changes to it. (I guess this is one major flaw of the government: we always have to be super-careful). I myself proposed posting Word Document online for the ease of public usage, yet my boss did not agree to it.

Anyway, on behalf of DOPA, I would like to thank you for your interest in our work and look forward to your future contributions.

Andy said...

I have sent you an email already. In case anyone else is interesting in the list of potential mistakes, the XLS file is now available online as well.