Friday, December 4, 2009

Etymology of district name Hot

The origins of place names sometimes quite interesting. I have stumbled upon the one for the district Hot in Chiang Mai reading a book I did not expect to find anything on the administrative entities - Sacred Mountains Of Northern Thailand And Their Legends by Donald K. Swearer. As the title says, the book is on religious folktales, especially on the travels of Lord Buddha in northern Thailand on which he left those footprints and other relics now worshiped by the local people.
After the Buddha spent seven days at Doi Kung he came down from the mountain and journeyed north through a forest for a distance of approximately 20,000 meters to the Mae Ping river. There he met a Lawa farmer who was using a wheel to irrigate a field. When he saw the Buddha approach, the farmer unwound the turban from his head in order to wash the Buddha's feet. After he removed the turban from his head, it miraculously turned into gold. Amazed, the farmer said to the Buddha, "O, Blessed One, by your kindness please reside here in the north with us."
After the Buddha had given the Lawa the precepts, he spoke to the monks: "Before the Tathagatha came here the Lawa had to use a water wheel to irrigate their fields because this a very dry area (Thai, heang hot). Consequently, this place shall be known as Hot.
However, it seems the word Hot (ฮอด) meaning "dry, arid" is not normal Thai, as even the most complete online dictionary Longdo does not have an entry on it.


John Francis Lee said...

I probably know less Thai than you do but if you substitute รอด for ฮอด you can find a word that means more or less to 'get by'. To survive the heat perhaps?

I live in เจียงฮาย, aka เชียงราย, where an 'h' sound with a rising tone is often found where an 'r|l' sound is found "elsewhere".

And those words are never found in a "standard" Thai dictionary.

Andy said...

Quite the contrary, my Thai is still rudimentary, I am still struggling at the basics. So all I can say about these words not found in dictionaries is that they are probably directly from Pali/Sanskrit, but did not make it into the actual used Thai like other words.

rikker said...

It's true that ฮอด is the northern (and northeastern) Thai word corresponding to central Thai รอด.

Another sense for the word ฮอด is as a north(east)ern equivalent to ถึง, as in คิดฮอดบ้าน.

I suspect that those sense don't actually have to do with the origin of the name, but I've never heard แห้งฮอด, and neither has Google -- it reports a handful of instances, but upon examination they are just coincidences.

So I'm not sure what phrase this legend is referring to, and I haven't found anything by Google in Thai on the origin of the town's name. Sorry I can't be of more help.

rikker said...

I wasn't satisfied, so I did some more Googling in Thai, and found this quote from an article in Mueang Boran Journal:

"ชื่ออำเภอ'ฮอด'นี้ตรงกับคำว่า 'รอด' หมายถึงตำบลที่พระนางจามเทวี ทรงตรัสว่า ตนเองได้เดินทางรอดปลอดภัย มาถึงหริภุญไชยแล้ว"

"The district name ฮอด corresponds to the word รอด, referring to the place where Queen Jamadevi stated that she had traveled safe from harm to Haripunjaya."

Jamadevi was a Mon queen of the Haripunjaya Kingdom who lived and ruled, according to legend, around the 8th century A.D. Her Thai Wikipedia page has a lot more detail than its English counterpart.

This article doesn't give the source of this legend, but it seems no less plausible as the other one listed in that book you read.

Glad I kept looking.

John Francis Lee said...

I'm glad you kept looking too!

Thanks for your perseverance.