Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thai spelling reform and province names

Last year I stumbled upon a spelling reform while browsing through the Royal Gazette announcements. Some months later Rikker posted more details on this reform in his blog. What I did not notice back then was the fact that not only some words changed their orthography, especially the change of อำเภอ (Amphoe, district) to อำเพอ did spring to my eyes then. In fact, also some of the provinces got a revised spelling then, which I could now notice while working through an announcement on the regions which lists all the provinces.

The following is the list of all the provinces which changed spelling, with first the reformed and second the traditional/current spelling.
  • Nakhon Pathom - นครปถม instead of นครปฐม
  • Phitsanulok - พิษนุโลก instead of พิษณุโลก
  • Uttaradit - อุตรดิต instead of อุตรดิตถ์
  • Nakhon Si Thammarat - นครศรีธมราช instead of นครศรีธรรมราช
  • Surat Thani - สุราสตร์ธานี instead of สุราษฎร์ธานี
  • Krabi - กะบี่ instead of กระบี่, this one however more looks like a misspelling
What I would need now is a complete list of the lower administrative entities at that time as well, so I could see which of the district or even subdistricts had been spelled differently. I doubt I can find like that hidden within the Gazette database, so if someone has an old geography book from that time which has a list of lower entities I'd be grateful for a scan - not only for the spelling changes, also to have more datapoints for the numbers of each entity type.


Anonymous said...

I need to look at the reform "rules" more closely, but I think these spelling changes include some things not covered in the original document, like ธรรมราช > ธมราช, where รร is axed entirely.

That's a particularly strange choice. Because ธรรมราช is pronounced ทำ-มะ-ราด, while ธมราช would be ทะ-มะ-ราด. Subtle, but different. That's fascinating stuff.

Oh, and I noticed that in the Royal Gazette database they've modernized spellings from this era. That is, if you search for the spelling reform announcement, you won't find the spelling อักสร, but rather the current modern spelling อักษร. Makes sense from the perspective of a computer search (few would think to use obsolete spellings).

Andy said...

It's of course quite possible that additional to the spelling reform they also made some additional spelling changes for the geographical names. What a bit surprises me is that while some have changed, other peculiar spellings like the รร in สุพรรณบุร survived. Having a list of Amphoe from that time would give a much bigger sample to look for a system in the spelling changes. Besides, district names changed their spelling in more recent times as well, but it seems these have normally not been announced in the Gazette.

Nils said...

Hallo Andy, Du hast eine Namensaenderung uebersehen:

* Chachoengsao (ฉะเชิงเซา instead of ฉะเชิงเทรา)