THE NATION October 4, 2012 1:00 am
The Royal Institute yesterday said up to 90 per cent respondents to a Net survey disagreed with corrections to the spellings of 176 words borrowed from the English language, which carried tone marks indicating pronounciation.
A proposal to correct the words in the institute’s official dictionary of 2011, faced mixed responses, and the institute’s secretary-general Kanokwalee Chuchaiya said yesterday no changes would be implemented yet.
The idea for the changes was proposed by Royal Institute member Kanchana Naksakul.
About 100,000 copies of the new dictionary are being printed to mark His Majesty’s 84th birthday.
Kanokwalee said the manuscript was based on the 1999 edition with some corrections and word additions for certain fields such as law, history, music and royal words. Also added were His Majesty’s creations such as Kaem Ling (Monkey Cheeks), klaeng din (soil treatment) and setthakij por piang (sufficiency economy).
An internal opinion poll about the plan will be completed by October 31 and the result presented at the Royal Institute Council’s fourth meeting on December 12, she said.
Meanwhile, about 90 per cent of the institute’s officials opposed the plan to change spellings and offered several suggestions, Kanokwalee said. These suggestions will be tabled at the December meeting and the institute will also gather public opinion through websites and online posts, she added.
Former Royal Institute councillor Chai-anan Samudavanija said the institute should also seek other people’s opinions, because everybody used the language.
Changes that will impact many people should be agreed upon widely especially among state agencies that had to use them in official documents.
Author Nittaya Kanchanawan said the written language helped put everyone on the same page, while people can pronounce words any way they wanted. She said words borrowed from other languages were either transliterations or given new meanings, such as “big bags”, which to Thais means stuffed bags used to build temporary embankments.
Literary expert Chonticha Sudmuk said the institute had compiled new words derived from incidents and put them in three New Vocabulary Dictionary editions – not yet made official by the PM’s Office – and a fourth edition was in the pipeline. These editions were to conserve new words for the time being.
Chonticha agreed that spelling borrowed words according to pronunciation could be problematic and such changes needed to be done for the whole system.
She said the institute’s principle of writing borrowed words according to whether that language had tones already worked.
Borrowed English words couldn’t carry tone marks because does not have any tones, but words from Chinese needed tones because otherwise they could be misprounced, leading to misunderstanding.