Do you know why we call money เงิน /ngern/ or ตังค์ /dtaang/ and what ‘baht’ came from?

Do you know why we call money เงิน /ngern/ or ตังค์ /dtaang/ and what ‘baht’ came from?

If you think that it’s a coincidence, you are wrong. When we track back to the history of Thai coinage, the first Thai money was ‘เงินพดด้วง’ /ngern-pód-duâng/ aka “Bullet Money”. It goes back to the 13th centuries when The Sukhothai Kingdom was founded. Can you guess what kind of metal it produced? Yes, you are right. The bullet money made of silver.

เงินพดด้วงเงินพดด้วง /ngern-pód-duâng/ was called “Bullet Money” because of its round-shaped which made it look similar to a bullet with marks to show the origin. It was in circulation for 600 years until the Rattanakosin Kingdom.

Thai baht originated from a traditional unit of mass, like the pound. Its currency value was originally equivalent to silver of corresponding weight (15.2 grams). Nowadays we usually use a kilogram but บาท or baht is still the unit of mass when buying or selling gold and silver.

The monetary and financial system had been developed significantly in the reign of King Rama V. The first paper money, called หมาย /măay/, was issued due to an insufficiency of เงินพดด้วง /ngern-pód-duâng/. The banknote was also assigned to combat the counterfeit unsuccessfully because it was not popular at that time.

In 1897 the production of พดด้วง /pód-duâng/ was discontinued after King Rama IV had got a small man-powered coin production machine from Queen Victoria. The flat coins started to be produced and used alongside พดด้วง /pód-duâng/. HRH Prince Jayanta Mongkol devised the decimal system for the new coins. 100 satang is equal to 1 baht.

Although we might hardly buy anything with satang coins presently, people still refer to money by using the word ‘สตางค์’ /sà-dtaang/. When they speak faster in a hurry, they will cut the first syllable and shorten the length of the second syllable. It becomes ตังค์ /dtang/ finally.

Do you know why Thai names of the months are so loooong?

Do you know why Thai names of the months are so loooong?

As we know that Thailand had used a lunar calendar before the present solar calender. At that time all months were called simply by ordinal numbers. The first month is เดือนอ้าย /deuan-âay/, the second month is เดือนยี่ /deuan-yêe/, the third month is เดือนสาม /deuan-săam/, the forth month is เดือนสี่ /deuan-sèe/ respectively until เดือนสิบสอง /deuan-sìb-sŏrng/ In case you wonder, อ้าย /âay/ and ยี่ /yêe/ can also refer to one and two in order.

Although there are 12 months in total, it is not compatible with the months in Gregorian calendar. Each lunation is approximately 29½ days; therefore, the months alternate between 29 and 30 days. That means a lunar year is only 354 days approximately. That’s why we can’t say that เดือนอ้าย /deuan-âay/ is January.

The lunar calendar was replaced with the current system in 1888. Therefore, new months were created for the solar calendar.

HRH Prince Devavongse Varopakarn, Siamese prince and diplomat during the reign of Rama V and Rama VI, was interested in astronomy and astrology following his father, King Mongkut (Rama IV). He generated new names of the months in solar calendar by following the zodiac.

The twelve astrological signs:

Aries เมษ /mêd/ + อายน  /aa-yon/ เมษายน

/me-săa-yon/

Taurus พฤษภ /préu-sòb/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ พฤษภาคม

/préu-sà-paa-kom/

Gemini มิถุน /mí-tŭn/ + อายน /aa-yon/ มิถุนายน

/mí-tù-naa-yon/

Cancer กรกฎ /gà-ra-gòd/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ กรกฎาคม

/gà-ra-gà-daa-kom/

Leo สิงห /sǐng-hà/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ สิงหาคม

/sǐng-hăa-kom/

Virgo กันย /gan/ + อายน /aa-yon/ กันยายน

/gan-yaa-yon/

Libra ตุล /dtun/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ ตุลาคม

/dtù-laa-kom/

Scorpio พิจิก /pí-jìg/

พฤศจิก /préu-sà- jìg/

+ อายน /aa-yon/ พฤศจิกายน

/préu-sà- jì-gaa-yon/

Sagittarius ธนู /ta-noo/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ ธันวาคม

/tan-waa-kom/

Capricorn มกร /má-gà-rá/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ มกราคม

/má-gà-raa-kom/

Aquarius กุมภ์ /gum/ + อาพนธ

/aa-pa-na-ta/

กุมภาพันธ์

/gum-paa-pan/

Pisces มีน /meen/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ มีนาคม

/mee-naa-kom/

Remarks: อายน /aa-yon/, อาคม /aa-kom/ and อาพนธ /aa-pa-na-ta/ means ‘arrival of’ He used 3 different suffixes to differentiate the number of days in each month: 30, 31, and 28 or 29 respectively.

Oh! I almost forget to mention that they are not Thai but Sanskrit compound words. That’s why they are elegant, meaningful and too hard to remember. LOL Luckily, you can also say เดือน /deuan/ + number, such as เดือนห้า /deaun-hâa/ to talk about May. We do understand what you mean even if it is not common practice here.

All in all, the names of each month means ‘an arrival of each zodiac sign‘. Interesting?

Zodiac_CC.svg

Do you know when Thailand changed its new year to the 1st of January?

Do you know when Thailand changed its new year to the 1st of January?

Thais had used a lunar calendar since 1249 (1792 BE) in Sukhothai Kingdom. We counted the first day of the first waning moon (during November to January) as a New Year’s day.

At that time, people followed Shalivahana era or Saka era: มหาศักราช, in order to calculate a year. Shalivahana was a legendary emperor of ancient India, ruling from Pratishathana or Paithan, Maharashtra presently.

Later Thais accepted believes of Brahmins from Hindu. The 1st of the fifth waxing moon became the New Year which was originally consistant with Songkran for Thais (following the lunar calender). That’s why we called Songkran as the Thai New Year presently.

After 1569 (2112 BE) during Ayutthaya Kingdom’s reign, Chulasakarat: จุลศักราช was used officially in Thailand until 1888 (2431 BE); however, the first year of Chulasakarat started in 638 (1181 BE). It is a lunisolar calendar derived from the Burmese calendar.

King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) adopted the Thai solar calendar as the Siamese version of the Gregorian calendar in 1888 as the legal calendar replacing the Thai lunar calendar.

He also decreed a change in vulgar reckoning to the Rattanakosin Era or Rattanakosin Sok: รัตนโกสินทร์ศก. It began year 1 on 6th April 1782 when King Buddhayotfa (Rama I), the foundation of the Chakri Dynasty, found Bangkok as capital.

Before New Year coincided with the date calculated for Songkran, when the Sun transits the constellation of Aries, the first astrological sign in the Zodiac. King Chulalongkorn decreed the first of April to be the New Year’s Day in the following year after adopting the solar calendar.

After using Rattanakosin Sok for 24 years, Buddhist Era (abbreviation BE), พุทธศักราช has been decreed officially in 1913 (2456 BE). What’s more, on 6 September 1940, Prime Minister Plaek Pibulsongkram, announced the 1st of January 1941 (2484 BE) to be the official New Year from now on.

Nowadays, the Common Era New Year’s Day (1 January) and Songkran (13 – 15 April), the Thai traditional New Year are important public holidays in Thailand.

For Thais, we will say สวัสดีปีใหม่ /sà-wàd-dee bpee mài/ to each other. I wish you a prosperous and healthy year!

สวัสดีปีใหม่ค่ะ

sà-wàd-dee bpee mài kà

 

Do you know any Thai prefixes and suffixes?

Do you know any Thai prefixes and suffixes?

Similar to other languages, Thai language also has many prefixes and suffixes to create new words. Many of them come from Pali-Sanskrit or Khmer. To understand the meaning of prefixes and suffixes will help you to guess the meaning of new words easily.

Today we will talk about a few of them that refer to a person or people.

นัก /nág/: prefix

– A person who does it regularly, used with nouns or verbs.

Example:

  • นักเรียน /nág-rian/ = person+study => student
  • นักท่องเที่ยว /nág-tôrng-tiâw/ = person+travel => tourist, traveler
  • นักคิด /nág-kíd/ = person+think => thinker

–  A person who is good at doing this or do it as his/her job.

Example:

  • นักข่าว /nág-kàaw/ = person+news => news reports, journalist
  • นักดนตรี /nág-don-dtree/ = person+music => musician
  • นักกีฬา /nág-gee-laa/ = person+sport => athlete, sportsman
  • นักเขียน /nág-kiăn/ = person+write => writer, author
  • นักบิน /nág-bin/ = person+fly => pilot

ผู้ /pôo/: prefix

–  A person, used with nouns, verbs or adjectives, to create a new noun.

Example:

  • ผู้หญิง /pôo-yĭng/ = person+female => lady, woman
  • ผู้ป่วย /pôo-bpuày/ = person+sick => patient
  • ผู้ชาย /pôo-chaay/ = person+male => man
  • ผู้ใหญ่ /pôo-yài/ = person+big => adult, chief
  • ผู้จัดการ /pôo-jàd-gaan/ = person+manager => manager

Sometimes you might even hear people say นักเรียน /nág-rian/ and ผู้เรียน /pôo-rian/. What’s the different?

When we say นักเรียน /nág-rian/, we are talking about students in general. We say ผู้เรียน /pôo-rian/ to specify a group of students.

If you see the word in the introduction of a textbook, it refers to students who use this book particularly. If you see the word in a leaflet of a school, it refers to students who study there.

Although we use ‘นัก’ /nág/ more often when talking about occupations, some words might created by the prefix ‘ผู้’ /pôo/, such as ผู้จัดการ /pôo-jàd-gaan/ manager, ผู้กำกับการแสดงภาพยนตร์ /pôo-gam-gàb-gaan-sà-daeng pàab-pà-yon/ film director, ผู้พิพากษา /pôo-pí-pàag-săa/ judge, etc.

กร /gorn/: suffix

–  A doer used as a suffix of Pali-Sanskrit compound words.

  • กรรมกร /gam-ma-gorn/ = work+doer => worker, laborer
  • เกษตรกร /gà-sèd-dtrà-gorn/ = field/land/farm+doer => farmer
  • วิศวกร /wíd-sà-wà-gorn/ = whole+doer/creator => engineer

There three words can mean something else as well but it’s very common to refer to ‘a person’ when we use them as a prefix or a suffix.

Do you know any other words with นัก /nág/, ผู้ /pôo/ or กร /gorn/?

Do you know what สวัสดี /sà-wàd-dēe/ mean?

Do you know what สวัสดี /sà-wàd-dēe/ mean?

sà-wàd-dēe kà

This is the first word that we will greet each other. It might also be the first Thai word that you know but it’s not Thai. Actually, this is a Sanskrit word, created by Phraya Upakitsinlapasan (1879 – 1941) for greeting between students and professors in the faculty of Liberal Arts, Chulalongkorn University when he worked as a professor there. It became official greeting word in 1943 by Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram (1897 – 1964), the Prime Minister of Thailand at that time.

สวัสดี /sà-wàd-dēe/ coming from a prefix สุ /sù/, meaning good, beautiful, easy and a word อสฺติ /àd-sà-dtì/, meaning there is, there are, have. When these two words merged together following the grammar rules, สุ /sù/ became สว /sà-wà/. Plusing อสฺติ /àd-sà-dtì/, สวสฺติ /sà-wàd-dì/ means ‘Wish (you) goodness and virtue!’ Actually, it reminds me of the phrase “May the force be with you!” Ring a bell? Lol

This word originally is short vowel sound for all syllables but Phraya Upakitsinlapasan changed the last syllable into a long sound to make it sounds better.

After that, there were some more greeting words created such as อรุณสวัสดิ์ /à-run-sà-wàd/ for ‘good morning’, ทิวาสวัสดิ์ /tí-waa-sà-wàd/ for ‘good afternoon’, สายัณห์สวัสดิ์ /săa-yan-sà-wàd/ for ‘good evening’ and ราตรีสวัสดิ์ /raa-dtee-sà-wàd/ for ‘good night’. However, these words are not as popular as สวัสดี /sà-wàd-dēe/ which we can use any time during the day. Only อรุณสวัสดิ์ /à-run-sà-wàd/ for ‘good morning’ and ราตรีสวัสดิ์ /raa-dtee-sà-wàd/ for ‘good night’ that people still use until now.

sa-wad-dee ka
May the virtue be with you!