In part three of this series I present my translation of the Royal Institute's rules for Thai orthography from the introduction to RID99 (พจนานุกรม ฉบับราชบัณฑิตยสถาน พ.ศ. 2542). The original Thai can be found here.
Part 2: Orthography
1. The following new rules apply to reduplicated and repetitive final consonants:And a bit of commentary:
A. For final consonants which are reduplicated, e.g. กิจจ, เขตต, จิตต, in the case that the final consonant has no accompanying vowel, cut off one of the consonants, leaving กิจ, เขต, จิต. Even if it is the prefix of a samasa compound, the final consonant can be pronounced a little bit without reduplication the letter, e.g. กิจกรรม, นิจศีล, จิตวิทยา. The final consonant is to be reduplicated only when accompanied by a vowel or other consonant, e.g. วักกะ, กิจจา, อัคคี, รัชชูปการ, บุคคล, ประภัสสร. B. For final consonants with repetitive consonants from the final consonant group ฏ, e.g. รัฏฐ, อัฑฒ, in the case that the last consonant has no accompanying vowel, cut off the first of the two final consonants, leaving only the last consonant, e.g. รัฐ, อัฒ. Even if it is the prefix of a samasa compound, the final consonant can be pronounced without repetition, e.g. รัฐบาล, อัฒจันทร์. The final consonant is to be repeated only when accompanied by a vowel or other consonant, e.g. รัฏฐาภิปาลโนบาย, กุฏฐัง, unless the vowel on the last consonant is ิ, e.g. วุฑฒิ, อัฏฐิ, ทิฏฐิ, in which case cut off the first of the two final consonants, using only the last consonant, e.g. วุฒิ, อัฐิ, ทิฐิ. The full form from the original language is given for words of this type in parentheses after the word. When you find a word written differently from these rules, compare how the word would be written according to these rules, how it would be spelled, and look up that word, e.g. for the word จิตต์ or ทิฏฐิ, look up จิต or ทิฐิ.
2. The following rules apply to use of the vowel symbol ะ:
A. Words which in the original language have two consecutive initial consonants, but in Thai an extra อะ vowel is pronounced, are not to use ะ, e.g. ผจญ, ผทม. B. Words from Pali and Sanskrit, for which the final syllable is to be pronounced with an อะ vowel, are to use ะ, e.g. ลักษณะ, ศิลปะ, สาธารณะ, หิมะ. C. Words from other languages which have customarily been written with ะ will continue to be written with ะ, e.g. ระเบียบ is not written รเบียบ after the Khmer. Words which are of uncertain origin, if pronounced with the vowel อะ, are to use ะ in keeping the traditional Thai spelling. D. Words beginning with the letter ส which has been altered to ตะ or กระ, even if not written with ะ in the original language, in Thai are to be written with ะ, e.g. สะพาน = ตะพาน, สะเทือน = กระเทือน. E. Various words with an added ร, which are mostly used in poetry, if the original word uses ะ, are to use ะ after adding ร as well, e.g. จะเข้ = จระเข้, ทะนง = ทระนง. If the original word does not use ะ, it is not necessary to use ะ after adding ร, e.g. จมูก = จรมูก.
Therefore, for words that have previously been written with ะ, if not found, look them up without ะ.
3. The following rules apply to use of ไม้ไต่คู้:
A. Do not use ไม้ไต่คู้ for words which are modified from Pali and Sanskrit, e.g. เบญจ, เพชร. B. Use ไม้ไต่คู้ for words which are pronounced short.
4. For words which have an initial consonant or consonant cluster, when expanded to two syllables, the second syllable will have the same tone as the original word, thus no silent ห is necessary, e.g. กลับ = กระลับ, กวัด = กระวัด, ตรวจ = ตำรวจ. Even if the word is borrowed from Pali and altered along these lines, no silent ห is used, e.g. กนก = กระนก.
5. For words from Pali and and Sanskrit which have several pronunciations and are commonly compounded with other words, several forms are given for convenience, e.g. ศิลป gives three forms: ศิลปะ-, ศิลป์, ศิลปะ. The form ศิลป- is used for compounding with other words, e.g. ศิลปกรรม, ศิลปศาสตร์; the form ศิลป์ is used for the pronunciation “สิน”, e.g. นาฏศิลป์; and the form ศิลปะ is used for standalone use, and for the desired pronunciation “สินละปะ”, e.g. ศิลปะการแสดง, งานศิลปะ.
6. For words written according to ancient orthography, e.g. วงง, วยง, อนน, เกรอก, which nowadays are written as วัง, เวียง, อัน, เกริก, if not found under the archaic spelling, look them up under the modern spelling.
These guidelines are particularly interesting and significant insofar as they do not simply apply to the organization of the dictionary. As the official dictionary of the Thai language, RID also functions as a standardizing, normative dictionary. If a word's spelling is changed in RID, the new spelling is supposed to be followed. By whom? Everyone, although in reality this is not the case. Several competing spellings may co-exist. But the Royal Institute doesn't generally go changing common spellings. In fact, perhaps the most significant spelling policy change between RID82 and RID99 is the explication of all word-final short /a/ vowels, in Indic-derived words. Whereas RID82 would, say, have the headword ภว with the pronunciation [พะวะ], RID99 would simply have the headword ภวะ, with no pronunciation, since the new spelling's pronunciation is transparent.
Another thing that occurs to me is that since people often take license with them, or because they may have been designated when a different spelling was in use, proper nouns (particularly surnames) are both a historical spelling record and a rich source of former or alternate spellings. For example, in rule 3A for ไม้ไต่คู้ above, เพชร is given as an example. It was once alternately spelled เพ็ชร, and is still pronounced as if it were spelled that way. But that spelling hasn't been common for decades. So why does it turn up so darn many hits on Google? Take a look for yourself and you'll see all the proper nouns.
This also reminds me: In another post for another day, I'll discuss the Royal Institute's rules for transcribing English loanwords, and how these are reflected (or not) in the recent Dictionary of New Words. (Sneak preview: In their attempt to impose new systematic spellings for words that already have de facto standards in the media, the Royal Institute is really only confusing the situation and undermining standardization.)