October 29, 2007

Different directions

One of the things I like learning is synonyms, which are plentiful in Thai, what with the combination of different speech registers and slews of Indic loanwords. I'm often surprised to make connections with words I've heard but didn't know the meaning of.

Case in point: the Indic-derived words for the compass directions:
อุดร (as in the name of the province, อุดรธานี, "northern city")
South: ทักษิณ (the name of a certain Prime Minister; also, the express train south is called the "Thaksin Express")
East: บูรพา (the author กุหลาบ สายประดิษฐ์ wrote under the pseudonym ศรีบูรพา, roughly, "the glorious east")
West: ปัจฉิม (most commonly seen in the phrase ปัจฉิมลิขิต or ป.ล., the Thai version of "p.s."--บูรพา and ปัจฉิม have alternate meanings of "front" and "back", respectively)
Northeast: อีสาน (the northeastern region of Thailand!)
Northwest: พายัพ (there's a Payap University in Chiangmai)
อาคเนย์ (seen in the phrase เอเชียอาคเนย์ "Southeast Asia", or in the สนธิ-compound of the same meaning, อุษาคเนย์)
Southwest: หรดี (haven't seen this one around much, frankly)


  1. Interesting blog you've got here. I'll have to spend some more time reading previous posts when i find some time to do so; after which you should find an ignorant, borderline rude comment from yours truly.

  2. Thanks, Dave old chap. Looking forward to your comments. Although I'll be surprised if they're only borderline rude.

  3. My favorite metaphor from the direction series is "ปัจฉิมวัย" which from Lexitron means, "old-age; final period of life" which is synonomous with "วัยชรา". Lexitron shows the antonym as "ปฐมวัย"; apparently there is no cognate in this series as "บูรพาวัย".

    Since ปัจฉิม means "West", as to the setting sun, the word "ปัจฉิมวัย" seems to be the equivalent of the English, "sunset years."

    How cool is that!


  4. That is cool. Writing this post also led me to make the connection between บูรพา and the prefixes บุพ- and บรรพ- meaning pre-. I think I'll post about that.