Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wrong romanizations

I have programmed a new little function around the XML to consolidate the romanized spellings of the administrative subdivisions which simply lists all the cases where the same Thai spelling had different romanized spellings in my XML. Especially for the administrative villages where I did the romanization manually (thus most of the Muban have no English spelling in my XML) I sometimes mixed up characters or did the spacing between the words differently. Therefore most of the cases where I had different spellings were mistakes on my side and fixed already, but there was one where the Royal Institute as the official institution to supervise the romanizations and recommended spellings has to blamed.

When DOPA on behalf of the Royal Institute published a list of recommended romanizations of all the subdistricts, I had spotted quite a lot of mistakes in that list already. But as I found and processed the corresponding list of district name recommendation several years before I learned to read Thai, so far I never questioned the spellings I picked from that list. But now with the help of my new code it seems found one mistake which was kept in Royal Institutes list for decades.

The name ทับคล้อ starts with the Thai character Tho Thahan, which is romanized with a Th as it is an aspirated consonant, in contrast to e,g, the unaspirated To Tao (ต). Any English speakers should not read this romanization like an English word, it is the same sound as in Thailand, not like in Thing. Therefore, the romanization of ทับคล้อ must be Thap Khlo. But - already in the recommended district romanizations published in Royal Gazette in 1987 it has been spelled Tap Khlo, And even the current PDF file from the Royal Institute website uses the spelling Tap Khlo. However, the reason why I was able to spot the mistake now is the list of recommended subdistrict romanization. In these files the subdistrict has been correctly romanized as Thap Khlo, and I now notice that the district is spelled Thap Khlo there as well. So while there have been several other mistakes in that list, the big mistake in the district list was fixed.

As the last publication in the Royal Gazette dates from 2000, and there have been two new districts in the meantime, it might be a good time to publish an updated (and corrected) version - or maybe even better publish a second edition of the subdistrict list addressing the mistakes, and adding the municipalities which in a few cases have a name with no corresponding district or subdistrict name. A reader has sent me several further cases where the recommended subdistrict romanizations might be wrong, but to my shame I haven't yet found the time to work through that list and incorporate it into the list of mistakes I have spotted.

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