May 6, 2009

On the death of roi-et ร้อยเอ็ด

No, the province isn't in trouble. I'm talking about the Thai phrase meaning "one hundred and one".

I've noticed that, in Bangkok at least, I never really hear the number 101 written or spoken as ร้อยเอ็ด or หนึ่งร้อยเอ็ด. Rather, หนึ่งร้อยหนึ่ง seems to be the norm these days. The same goes for 201, 501, 1001, etc. I only hear เอ็ด in the tens places -- from 11 to 91.

The most common situation to hear these in is when someone reads you the total from a purchase, whether it's a 7-Eleven stop or a restaurant bill.

One thing to keep in mind is that while you can say หนึ่งร้อยเอ็ด, and abbreviate that ร้อยเอ็ด, you can't really do the same with หนึ่งร้อยหนึ่ง. That's because ร้อยหนึ่ง is understood to mean 100, because หนึ่ง in this case acts like English "a". Asking a friend ขอยืมตังค์ร้อยหนึ่ง means "can I borrow a hundred (baht)"? The same goes for higher decimal places. พันหนึ่ง = 1000, หมื่นหนึ่ง = 10000, and so forth. (But also note that in this type of usage, the tone of หนึ่ง typically becomes a mid tone, and as a result is informally written นึง to reflect that.)

Using เอ็ด for "one" in the ones place of multi-digit numbers is still technically correct, according to the Royal Institute. And it usually helps to avoid confusion. For example, saying 1001 as หนึ่งพันหนึ่ง could be misunderstood as 1100, or หนึ่งพันหนึ่งร้อย, since the decimal unit of the next figure is often omitted in casual speech. พันห้า = 1500, หมื่นสอง = 12000, ล้านสี่ = 1.4 million. The only exception here seems to be the tens place, where สิบ is rarely ever omitted. สองร้อยห้า = 205, not 250, though one may run into occasional exceptions to this exception.

So why would เอ็ด would begin to disappear from usages like 101, 201, or 1001?

And if it really is disappearing, then I wonder whether this bug report for Open Office is really a bug or a feature. Is it simply reflecting common modern usage?

Can anyone else corroborate my experience? What is usage like outside Bangkok?


  1. I was always told that use of หนึ่ง rather than เอ็ด came from the military. If that's the case, why does the military/police ranking system use เอ็ด not หนึ่ง ??

  2. Out here in Yasothon my wife tells me it's the same here.

    Meanwhile, are you on vacation?