Tag: history

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, Thailand has 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 Thai lunar calendar has 12 months in total, it is not compatible with the months in the Gregorian calendar. Each lunation is approximately 29½ days; therefore, the months alternate between 29 and 30 days. It means that a lunar year has 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 reigns of Rama V and Rama VI, was interested in astronomy and astrology like his father, King Mongkut (Rama IV). He created the new names for the months in the 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/ mean ‘arrival of’. The Prince 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 mean ‘an arrival of each zodiac sign‘. Interesting?

Zodiac_CC.svg

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

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

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

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

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

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. Its first year began on 6th April 1782 when King Buddhayotfa (Rama I), the founder of the Chakri Dynasty, laid the foundation of Bangkok as a 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 year following the adoption of the solar calendar.

After using Rattanakosin Sok for 24 years, Buddhist Era (abbreviation BE), พุทธศักราช was 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 then 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 on New Year’s Day. I wish you a prosperous and healthy year!

สวัสดีปีใหม่ค่ะ

sà-wàd-dee bpee mài kà

 

Do you know why we say โมง /moeng/ ทุ่ม /tûm/ and ตี /dtee/ for telling time?

Do you know why we say โมง /moeng/ ทุ่ม /tûm/ and ตี /dtee/ for telling time?

There are 2 different systems to tell time in Thai. The easiest one is the official way. We will use 0 to 24 following by a word นาฬิกา /naa-lí-gaa/. นาฬิกา /naa-lí-gaa/ means clock, watch or o’clock. It’s very simple but nobody uses it in spoken language. I mean, you can talk with people by using this system but please don’t expect anyone else who are Thai to refer to this system when talking about time.

So, how do Thai people tell time in general?

ฆ้องโหม่ง

 

In the ancient time when people didn’t have watches, clocks everywhere like now. A City Hall or a temple was responsible for telling time. During the daytime, they would hit a kong. People thought that its sounds was like ‘moeng’ (โหม่ง) so, they said ‘moeng’

 

 

At night, they changed the instruments. From 7 P.M. until midnight, they hit a drum instead. People heard its sound like ‘dtum’ (ตุ้ม) so they said ‘tum’. After midnight, it was not clear what exactly was the instrument for telling time. In the peaceful time, it might be possible that no one was awake the whole night to tell time. Anyway, they assumed that some kind of metal will be used to hit from 1 A.M. until 5 A.M. That’s why we use the word ตี /dtee/, meaning hit, slap, etc.

Official Time

(24-hour based system)

6-hour based system

(Originally)

6-hour based system

(Nowadays)

1 naa-lí-gaa dtee 1 dtee 1
2 naa-lí-gaa dtee 2 dtee 2
3 naa-lí-gaa dtee 3, 3 yaam dtee 3
4 naa-lí-gaa dtee 4 dtee 4
5 naa-lí-gaa dtee 5 dtee 5
6 naa-lí-gaa dtee 6, yâm-rûng 6 moeng-cháo
7 naa-lí-gaa 1 moeng-cháo 7 moeng-cháo
8 naa-lí-gaa 2 moeng-cháo 8 moeng-cháo
9 naa-lí-gaa 3 moeng-cháo 9 moeng-cháo
10 naa-lí-gaa 4 moeng-cháo 10 moeng
11 naa-lí-gaa 5 moeng-cháo, pen 11 moeng
12 naa-lí-gaa tîang, tîang-wan, yâm-tîang tîang, tîang-wan
13 naa-lí-gaa bàay 1 moeng bàay moeng
14 naa-lí-gaa bàay 2 moeng bàay 2, 2 moeng
15 naa-lí-gaa bàay 3 moeng bàay 3, 3 moeng
16 naa-lí-gaa bàay 4 moeng bàay 4 (moeng), 4 moeng-yen
17 naa-lí-gaa bàay 5 moeng 5 moeng-yen
18 naa-lí-gaa 6 moeng-yen, yâm-kâm 6 moeng-yen
19 naa-lí-gaa 1 dtûm 1 dtûm
20 naa-lí-gaa 2 dtûm 2 dtûm
21 naa-lí-gaa 3 dtûm, yaam 1 3 dtûm
22 naa-lí-gaa 4 dtûm 4 dtûm
23 naa-lí-gaa 5 dtûm 5 dtûm
24 naa-lí-gaa, 0 naa-lí-gaa tîang-keun, 6 dtûm, 2 yaam tîang-keun
Do you know why we have ศ ษ ส in Thai?

Do you know why we have ศ ษ ส in Thai?

In Thai language, there are 3 /s/ sounds in high class consonant. Students might wonder how to use them and why we have 3 different symbols just to represent only one sound.

Actually, we follow the origin of words in writing system although we might not pronounce them as the native speakers do. In Sanskrit language, there are ศ ษ and ส because they pronounce them differently.

If you know how to read and write Thai, you will notice that Pali language and Sanskrit language influence Thai language deeply. In Pali and Thai, there are only ส while the 3 consonants are used in Sanskrit. That means all words with ศ or ษ are originally from Sanskrit.

During 1940 – 1944, the government of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram specified to use only ส; however, ศ and ษ resumed again after that. Nowadays we write ศ ษ or ส following the writing rules of Pali-Sanskrit.

If you don’t have any clues about Pali-Sanskrit, I’d like to suggest you to remember words by heart. If not, feel free to learn both before coming back to learn Thai. LOL  Have fun!!!

Some example words of ศ

ประกาศ              (n/v)         announce; announcement

พฤศจิกายน         (n)            November

พิศ                    (v)            look, watch

เลิศ                   (adj/adv)   excellent

ศรัทธา               (v)            believe in

ศัตรู                   (n)            enemy

ศาล                   (n)            court; shrine

ศาสนา               (n)            religion

 

Some example words of ษ

กษัตริย์               (n)            king

พฤษภาคม          (n)            May

พิษ                    (n)            poison

ภาษา                 (n)            language

ภาษี                  (n)            tax

รักษา                 (v)            medical treat, cure

 

Some example words of ส

ทาส                  (n)            slave

พฤหัสบดี           (n)            Thursday

วาสนา               (n)            fortune, destiny

สงฆ์                  (n)            monk

สวรรค์                (n)            heaven

สัตย์                   (n/adj)      honest

สัตว์                   (n)            animal

สาร                    (n)            text, message

สูตร                   (n)            formula

หงส์                   (n)            swan

โอกาส               (n)            opportunity

Do you know ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jeen/ didn’t come from China?

Do you know ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jeen/ didn’t come from China?

ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jeen/ is one kind of noodles, made from rice flour, in Thailand. In the northern part, it is called ‘ขนมเส้น’ /kà-nŏm-sên/. Esan people call it ‘ข้าวปุ้น’ /kâaw-bpûn/ and it is known as ‘โหน้มจีน’ /nóm-jeen/ in the southern part.

ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jee/ has a ridiculous name because it’s totally not ขนม /kà-nŏm/ in Thai people’s eyes and it’s not from China if you must know.

What is ขนม /kà-nŏm/?

If you look it up, you will see meanings such as sweets, dessert, candy, etc. Actually, the definition of ขนม /kà-nŏm/ is a lot wider than that. We count snacks, such as potato chips, French fried, biscuits, dried fruits, nuts & seeds, etc. as ขนม /kà-nŏm/. With this range, ขนม /kà-nŏm/ can be sweet, sour, salty, even spicy. Thai people especially girls love having it any time.

When a student asks me what ขนม /kà-nŏm/ is, I always answer simply “It’s something that you enjoy eating. Normally it’s not healthy. It can’t really make your stomach full but it tastes soooooo good!” LOL

If ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jee/ didn’t come from China, where was it from?

It was originally Mon food from Burma. The word ‘ขนมจีน’ /kà-nŏm-jeen/ was from ‘ขฺนํจินฺ’, คะนอมจีน /ká-nom-jeen/,  ‘คะนอม’/ká-nom/ means noodles and  ‘จีน’/jeen/ means be cooked.

Thai people love having ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jee/ with various soup or curry. They like to eat fresh vegetables together with it. Some people like me also love having it with ส้มตำ /sôm-dtam/, aka Thai green papaya salad.

noodle-2402592_960_720

Surprisingly, ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jee/ provides less calories than other rice noodles and glass noodles. So, let’s eat ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jee/ if you are on a diat. LOL

Do you know why we have ฃ and ฅ?

Do you know why we have ฃ and ฅ?

If you’d like to learn how to read and write Thai, normally you will start with alphabets, right?

In Thai language, there are 44 consonant letters. It’s funny because there are 2 characters which we don’t use anymore, but we still count them as part of our alphabets. Any ideas?

Right, I’m talking about ฃ and ฅ.

So, when did ฃ and ฅ be created and for what reason?

For the first question, we have got evidence from the King Ramkhamhaeng Insription, aka Ram Khamhaeng Stele (composed in 1292), that we did have these two letters starting from the beginning.

Referring to the inscription, you could find some examples of ฃ and ฅ, such as ฃึ้น, ฃุน, ฃาม, ฅำ, ฅู้ม, ฅวาม etc. and these two still be used until Rattanakosin Era (1782 – present).

ฃ and ฅ were left from the writing system firstly when the first Thai typewriter was developed by Edwin Hunter McFarland in 1892. Why? No space for all letters!

Although these two were still be used popularly in King Vajiravudh’s reign (1910 – 1925), their usage became less and less after that until there were only one word of each left: เฃตร and ฅอ.

When Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram, locally known as Chomphon Por; contemporarily known as Phibun in the West, served as the Prime Minister of Thailand (1948 – 1957), many consonant letters and vowels were eliminated from the writing system. Of course, ฃ and ฅ were included.

The others consonants have resumed their usage after Chomphon Por’s period of time but not these two consonants.

So, we are back to the second question. If they were not that important why did we have them?

From many of Thai specialists’ assumptions, they do believe that at the beginning, ฃ and ฅ must represent different sounds from ข and ค respectively but nobody really knows which sounds exactly.

Do you know all the Thai consonants which represent /k/ sound?