August 1, 2007

Etymologist 5: โลกาภิวัตน์

Globalization refers to the modern trend toward increased interdependency, connectivity and integration across the world, be it economic, political, or cultural. The world is becoming smaller, in other words, with our increased ability to communicate, travel, and otherwise interact with the rest of the globe.

The term for this in Thai, as coined by the Royal Institute, is โลกาภิวัตน์ (which has replaced an earlier term, โลกานุวัตร).

This word is an example สนธิ in Thai. สนธิ, (aka sandhi*), is a blanket term referring to various phonological processes that can occur when you combine two words into a compound. There are various types of sandhi: tone sandhi, vowel sandhi, In the case of โลกาภิวัตน์, we see vowel sandhi, where the vowel changes when you combine the two roots.

The component parts here are โลก and อภิวัตน์. So why the long vowel in โลกา?

Thai words from Indic origins have a standalone form and a "combining form." This usually consists of an extra vowel at the end, that is hidden or suppressed in its standalone form (or when it's at the end of a compound). Sometimes it's written but not pronounced, as in ประวัติ, whose combining form is (usually) pronounced [ประ-วัด-ติ].

There are actually two types of compounding that Thai borrows from Indic languages (i.e. Pali and Sanskrit). Besides สนธิ, there is also สมาส [สะ-หมาด]. The difference is that in สมาส, the existing vowels of the component words don't change. (But we do get additional syllables from the combining form).

For โลก, the combining form is [โลก-กะ]. The word โลกทัศน์ "worldview"
is an example of สมาส. โลก+ทัศน์ = [โลก-กะ-ทัด]. Because it is a สมาส compound, โลก takes its combining form.

Back to โลกาภิวัตน์. With สนธิ, you start with the combining forms of the component parts. Vowel sandhi in Thai has certain rules for what happens to two given vowels when you combine them. When you combine the two short อะ vowels (the อะ vowel at the end of โลก in its combining form, and the short vowel อะ at the beginning of อภิวัตน์) it becomes the long vowel อา. โลกกะ+อภิวัตน์ = โลกาภิวัตน์. This process also breaks โลก into two syllables, and อา because the vowel of the second syllable: โลกา. This, in turn, affects the tone. Notice that in โลกาภิวัตน์, โล-กา is two syllables, both mid tone.

To break it down further, อภิวัตน์ is a compound of อภิ (meaning ยิ่ง or วิเศษ) and วัตน์ (meaning ความเป็นไป or ความเป็นอยู่). The combined meaning is การเข้าถึง, การแผ่ถึง, or การเอาชนะ. But in the case of อภิวัตน์ there is no sandhi going on, because spelling/pronunciation change is needed. The compound อภิวัตน์ itself is formed by สมาส.

So the literal meaning of the entire word is "conquering the world" or "spreading throughout the world."

Other examples of สนธิ:
  • เดชานุภาพ (great power/might) is from เดช (power) + อานุภาพ (power, greatness)
  • ราชูปถัมภ์ (royal patronage) is from ราช (king) + อุปถัมภ์ (patronage, support)
  • พจนานุกรม (dictionary) is from พจน์ (word) + อนุกรม (order, or sequence)
  • มกรคม (January) is from มกร (dragon) + อาคม (arrival)
  • ธันวาคม (December) is from ธนู (bow) + อาคม (arrival)
Other examples of สมาส:
  • พุทธศาสนา [พุด-ทะ-สาด-สะ-หนา] (Buddhism) = พุทธ [พุด] (Buddha) + ศาสนา (religion). Cf. the non-compound form ศาสนาพุทธ [สาด-สะ-หนา-พุด]
  • เศรษฐกิจ [เสด-ถะ-กิด] (economy) = เศรษฐ [เสด] (literally excellent or best, in this sense, money) + กิจ (work, business).
With a bit of practice, it gets easier to unravel long words into more easily digestible parts.

[Sources: RID99,
จดหมายข่าวราชบัณฑิตยสถาน ปีที่ ๔ ฉบับที่ ๔๑, ตุลาคม ๒๕๓๗.
* It comes from Sanskrit, meaning "put together" or "combine." This root is also seen in the Thai word ปฏิสนธิ, meaning conceive (a child). ปฏิ+สนธิ = the result of combination, hence conceive.

1 comment:

  1. I should have noted in this post that โลกาภิวัตน์ is often misspelled as โลกาภิวัฒน์. The root วัฒน์ "progress, advance" is more common by far, and is seen in quite a few neologisms: วัฒนธรรม "culture" วิวัฒนาการ "evolution", and in the word พัฒนา "develop" (etymologically it's the same root).

    But วัตน์ and วัฒน์ are not to be confused.