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7 hours ago, Wongkitlo said:

They should really update this. I don't think any Thais really pronounce ก as K. I wonder if whoever did  this could really speak or read English properly. 

 

The Royal Thai General System of Transcription (RTGS) is not intended as a pronunciation guide, not for Thais, not for English speakers, not for speakers of any other language.

 

It is important always to note the difference between a pronunciation guide and a transcription system.

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4 hours ago, Maestro said:
11 hours ago, Wongkitlo said:

They should really update this. I don't think any Thais really pronounce ก as K. I wonder if whoever did  this could really speak or read English properly. 

 

The Royal Thai General System of Transcription (RTGS) is not intended as a pronunciation guide, not for Thais, not for English speakers, not for speakers of any other language.

 

It is important always to note the difference between a pronunciation guide and a transcription system.

 

I'd describe it as more of a spectrum. At one extreme you have pure transliteration systems that only care about representing the original characters, and not at all about the pronunciation. RTGS is not like that. If you take ด as an example, it uses d in initial position and t in final position. The only reason for doing that is to reflect the pronunciation, so RTGS is not right at the transliteration extreme of the spectrum.

 

ก is not really a g. It's not the k in Kate either, but the k in Kate would be RTGS kh. The phonetic difference between kh and ก is that ก is unaspirated. The h in kh is there to represent aspiration, so it makes sense to take it off and use k by itself. It's the same for ต / ท (t / th) and ป / ผ (p / ph), so this gives you a fairly consistent system.

 

We wouldn't think of using d for ต because the existence of ด makes it obvious that ต isn't really a d. Similarly, we wouldn't think of using b for ป because the existence of บ makes it obvious that ป is not really a b. It's a lot harder to notice that ก is not really a g, because Thai doesn't have a true g to compare it to.

 

The IPA letter for ก is k.

 

Overall I'd say that k is technically accurate and more logical, but much more likely to be misunderstood and pronounced as kh. G would be less accurate but also less likely to be misunderstood, so you can still make a case for it.

Edited by JHicks
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Transcription guide/pronunciation guide, IMO Thailand doesn't have one.   At least not one that's adhered to throughout the country.  I lived in Taiwan for 3 years after studying Chinese for a year.  Wade Giles was the standard there......everywhere.  My Chinese training prepared me for Pinyin as is the standard in the mainland.  I'd reckon that I could pronounce nearly any Chinese word accurately enough, Pinyin or Wade Giles, less the tones.

 

Thailand is a completely different animal.  When I finally buckled down and began to learn to read Thai, I purposely avoided the English translation on signs as it seemed most of the time, the English was not close to the Thai pronunciation.  If you're going to go through the torture of learning the RTGS system (which disregards tones and vowel lengths), you may as well go through the torture of learning to read Thai script.  

 

A side story.......before I learned to read Thai, I took a taxi on a short visit to Bangkok.  I asked the driver to take me to Rama Rd.  All the road signs say "Rama Rd".......but the driver didn't know what I was saying.  When I later discovered that the name of the road is actually Phra Ram พระราม it was a different world.   Ubon/Udon, similar in spelling but pronounced much differently.

 

 

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11 hours ago, JHicks said:

 

I'd describe it as more of a spectrum. At one extreme you have pure transliteration systems that only care about representing the original characters, and not at all about the pronunciation. RTGS is not like that. If you take ด as an example, it uses d in initial position and t in final position. The only reason for doing that is to reflect the pronunciation, so RTGS is not right at the transliteration extreme of the spectrum.

 

ก is not really a g. It's not the k in Kate either, but the k in Kate would be RTGS kh. The phonetic difference between kh and ก is that ก is unaspirated. The h in kh is there to represent aspiration, so it makes sense to take it off and use k by itself. It's the same for ต / ท (t / th) and ป / ผ (p / ph), so this gives you a fairly consistent system.

 

We wouldn't think of using d for ต because the existence of ด makes it obvious that ต isn't really a d. Similarly, we wouldn't think of using b for ป because the existence of บ makes it obvious that ป is not really a b. It's a lot harder to notice that ก is not really a g, because Thai doesn't have a true g to compare it to.

 

The IPA letter for ก is k.

 

Overall I'd say that k is technically accurate and more logical, but much more likely to be misunderstood and pronounced as kh. G would be less accurate but also less likely to be misunderstood, so you can still make a case for it.

can understand what you are saying and am sure you are right. I just think it is crazy using a system which people don't understand. I used to catch the van to Central Pattaya road and say Pattaya Klang as the sign says but the drivers don't understand. When I learnt to read I would say Pattaya Glang with a guttural g and a nasal ng and they understood. Same as the listing in the topic. I would bet if you told a taxi driver  Khlong Khwaeng Klan there's a good chance hewouldnt understand. If you said Klong Khwaeng Glan with the plain K in Klong, aspirated KH for Khwaeng and guttural G in Glan  you would have a better chance. 

Edited by Wongkitlo
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