With the opening of the brand spanking new Suwarnnabhumi Airport, I think it’s important that we let the foreigners in on how we pronounce the name.
Suwarnnabhumi : su-wan-na-POOM
I know it should read “su-warn-na-boom-me” according to its spelling, but that’s not how us Thais say it.
Most of the time, any Thai names written in English is pronounced differently than how it looks.
Romanizing/Transliteration isn’t always a good thing. 😉
The way Thais spell out Thai words in English makes the word appear luxurious. Look at how pretty the words look versus how it would look spelling out phonetically.
Sawasdee –> Sa-wad-dee. The “S” at the end of “was” is an “D” sound in Thai spelling.
Thaksin Shinawatra –> TAK-sin SHIN-na-wat
Sorry. I couldn’t resist. 😉
Another case in point, Thailand is pronounced TIE-land, not THIGH-land. (Please, hold on to your jokes. How else could I convey the pronunciation in writing!?)
All kidding aside, how we spell our names out extravagantly in English is not just for show.
Like, Suwarnnabhumi, we spell out according to the Pali or Sanskrit roots.
The name of our king, for example, Bhumibol is pronounced Poo-mi-poan in Thai, but it is written out in English according to how it is spelled in Thai (and “L” stands in for “N” sound at the end of a word, and such) and staying with how root word should be spelled.
But how do you know how the root word should be spelled?
Okay. This is purely from my observation. If someone has a better explanation, by all means please illuminate us all. But my theory is that the English has ways of jotting down the words in Pali, Sanskrit, and other languages and dialects spoken in India. Like, yoga. Yoga is known in Thai as Yo-ka. Maharaja –> Maha Racha. So certain words are supposed to be romanized a certain way. Something like that.
Still with me?
Before we go further, let me just say that this is a GUIDE on how to pronounce Thai words written in English in order to better communicate with Thais in Thailand…and to be able to pronounce the names correctly and feel proud of yourself! This is NOT a Thai lesson. For that, please visit LearningThai.com
Now, you may continue with a cheat sheet to pronouncing Thai words written in English.