November 16, 2007

Know Your Dictionary: RID99

[Note: See also in this series sorting, orthography, symbols, pronunciation guides, and word senses. Forthcoming: etymology and list of abbreviations.]

Today I'm kicking off a series of posts about what I often refer to on this blog as RID99. That's right, once again I'm talking about the venerable Royal Institute Dictionary. The most recent edition is the 2542 edition, which corresponds to the year 1999.* As the official standard dictionary of Thai, it is a must own for any serious student of the language. That is, unless, the somewhat flawed online edition is sufficient for you.**

It's known in Thai as พจนานุกรม ฉบับราชบัณฑิตยสถาน พ.ศ. ๒๕๔๒.*** And while the print version has plenty of flaws of its own, it's the best monolingual dictionary out there (although I'm fond of Matichon's dictionary, too).

I dont' know about you, but I had been using the dictionary a long time before I ever took the time to carefully read the introductory material. And as it turns out, there's quite a bit of good stuff to learn in those introductory pages. You can find them in the original Thai linked from the main page of RID99 online, underneath the headings for all the letters of the alphabet. It includes these sections:
  • การเรียงลำดับคำและวิธีเก็บคำ (Sorting and word collection method)
  • อักขรวิธี (Orthography)
  • เครื่องหมายต่าง ๆ (Symbols)
  • การบอกคำอ่าน (Pronunciation guides)
  • ความหมาย (Senses)
  • ประวัติของคำ (Etymology)
  • บัญชีอักษรย่อและคำย่อที่ใช้ในพจนานุกรมนี้ (List of abbreviations used in the dictionary)
My small contribution is that I have translated these into English for personal use, and I'm going to post my translations here, in hopes that they help you to get more out of your dictionary experience, as they did me. These explanations provide a better understanding of the thought process and effort that has gone into the structure and contents of the Royal Institute Dictionary, and the structure of the Thai language in general. As I have said, RID is not without its flaws, but see if you don't just learn a thing or two from it. Stay tuned.

*It was actually first published in 2003, but is still branded as such so as to associate itself with the auspicious year of H.M. The King's sixth cycle--72nd--birthday in that year, and to honor him.
**See my previous posts about RID99 online and its problems here, here, here and here.
***You can read a bit about the Royal Institute on Wikipedia, but be warned--I wrote most of the article, so you only have my word to take for it. Feel free to add to the article.

No comments:

Post a Comment