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See also: Thai Translation


Contents:

1. Grammar and Spelling
2. Punctuation
3. Measurements and Abbreviations
4. Hyphenation
5. Miscellaneous Peculiarities
6. Geographic Distribution
7. Character Set

Section One - Grammar and Spelling

The alphabet consists of 44 consonants (2 of which are no longer in use) and 32 vowels, the latter consisting not of an individual letter, but of a mark written above, below, before, or after the consonant with which it is pronounced. Thai also has five tonal marks; four are indicated by signs over the consonants and the absence of a sign indicates that the first tone is to be used. Words are not separated from each other and the letters generally flow uninterrupted until the idea changes.

There is no capitalisation.

Section Two - Punctuation

There is no punctuation in Thai, including full stops.

Brackets, speech marks and exclamation marks can be used in the same way as in English.

Section Three - Measurements and Abbreviations

Lengths and areas have unique measurements, but Western metric measurements are in common use.

Time: There is no equivalent abbreviation of am and pm. Times are usually just written in full, i.e. 10 in the morning, 3 in the afternoon. The 24-hour clock (e.g. 16.00 h.) is normally used in formal writing.

Date: Dates are written as 25/8/99, or 25/8/42 (which indicates B.E. instead of A.D.). The full format will be (Date) 25 August (B.E.) 2542.

Decimal points are used, i.e. 3.7%.

Numbers over 9999 are separated by a comma, i.e. 67,000.

Spaces are not to be inserted between a figure and its measurement.

Thai numerals: ๑ ๒ ๓ ๔ ๕ ๖ ๗ ๘ ๙ ๑ ๐

Section Four - Hyphenation

Hyphenation is mostly used in splitting a word over a line or to split a word into parts, each of which has a meaning.

Section Five - Miscellaneous Peculiarities

Some consonants when used as a final letter of a word will produce a totally different sound, as opposed to when they are used as an initial letter. There are many rules and exceptions to be memorised.

Section Six - Geographic Distribution

Thai is spoken by over 85 per cent of the population of Thailand, or about 50 million people. It is a member of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages, which means that it is distantly related to Chinese. It is closer, however, to Lao, spoken in Laos, and to the Shan language of northern Burma. Like Chinese, Thai is a tonal language, meaning that different tones, or intonations, distinguish words that would otherwise be homonyms.

The origin of the Thai alphabet is obscure, but it is believed to have had its origin in southern India.

Thai is spoken/used in the following countries:
Thailand, USA, Vietnam.

Language family
Family: Sino-Tibetan
Subgroup: Tai

Source: http://www.worldlanguage.com/goto/language/94.html - Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.
Useful links - http://www.royin.go.th (The Royal Institute – Thailand)

Section Seven - Character Set

g k k k ng j ch ch s ch y d
dt t t t n d dt t t t n b
bp p f p f p m y r l w s
s s h l Not sounded h            
           

NB: 42 Consonants (not including 2 consonants which are no longer in use)

Vowel diacritics

a aa i ee eu eu u oo
-ะ -า - ิ - ี - ึ - ื อ - ุ - ู
e ay air air oh o or or
เ-ะ เ- แ-ะ แ- โ-ะ โ- เ-าะ -อ
eu-a eu-a ee-a ee-a eur eur er er
- ัวะ - ั ว เ - ียะ เ - ีย เ - ือะ เ - ือ เ-อะ เ-อ
um ai ai ow reu reu leu leu
-ำ ใ- ไ- เ-า ฤา ฦ า

NB: 32 Vowels (plus 4 vowels adopted from Sanskrit which are rarely used)





Thai Translation


By McElroy Translation Company,
Austin, Texas 78701 USA

quotes [at] mcelroytranslation . com
http://www.mcelroytranslation.com/

 


1. What are some pitfalls to avoid, specific to Thai, a client should be aware of when translating into this language?

In Thai:

•    The passive voice is only used in a negative sense.

For example:

Eng: Transactions in security will not be permitted by the system if this field is not checked.

Thai: ระบบจะไม่อนุญาตให้ทำธุรกรรมในหลักทรัพย์นี้หากไม่เลือกฟิลด์นี้ในระบบ

•    Usage in Thai is classified based on social rank, seniority, etc., which the translator must take into account when selecting an accurate translation.

For example:

“Eat” can be translated in several ways based on the subject.

2. What are characteristics of Thai that are unique or different from English and/or other languages?

The characteristics of Thai that are unique or different from English are:


•    Thai has tone marks.
•    Thai words are written consecutively without spaces until the end of a sentence.
•    Thai uses spacing as a separator without the commas, colons, semi-colons, dashes, em-dashes, etc., that English uses.
•    There are no full stops at the end of sentences.
•    There are no capital letters in Thai.
•    Thai uses adverbs to express distinctions of time. Verbs do not have present, past or future tenses.

3. How do these characteristics make it important to use properly qualified, professional translators?

It is important for Thai translators to:


•    Be highly proficient in the grammar of both the source and the target language.
•    Be able to create correct sentence structure in the target language.
•    Have a refined sense of word choices.

4. Do you know of examples where translation or localization mistakes have occurred with Thai, such as problems with text expansion, date/time formats, counting errors, character encoding, etc., or mistakes with the translation itself? Perhaps you’ve been asked to review a translation that did not seem to be the work of a properly qualified, professional translator.

I have seen the following types of mistakes:


•    Full stops have not been deleted.
Eng: Indicates the stock type classification for security.
Thai (incorrect): ระบุการจัดประเภทหุ้นสำหรับหลักทรัพย.
(correct): ระบุการจัดประเภทหุ้นสำหรับหลักทรัพย

•    Date/Time format was left unchanged
Eng: (month/day/year) 03/15/08
Thai (incorrect): (month/day/year) 03/15/08
(correct): (day/month/year) 15/03/08

•    Collocation
Eng: Never give others the opportunity to look over your shoulder if you are working on sensitive material.
Thai (incorrect): ห้ามมิให้บุคคลอื่นๆ มีโอกาสมองข้ามหัวไหล่ของคุณเพื่อดูข้อมูลลับเฉพาะที่คุณกำลังดำเนินการอยู่
(correct):ระวังอย่าเปิดโอกาสให้บุคคลอื่นแอบมองเมื่อคุณกำลังดำเนินการข้อมูลที่เป็นความลับอยู่

5. Relate an example or two of times you found a website page or form difficult to use because it was poorly localized. How might a business lose money, prestige, or incur legal risk due to this bad translation?


•    Obviously, for any business, its image will look doubtful to the target audience or anyone who sees such errors in translation.
•    A business could find itself in trouble in terms of legal issues and company management if the translation is not accurate.
•    It is possible the business could lose prospective income.
•    For the health care industry, unclear information due to a bad translation could put customers’ lives at risk.

6. If possible, provide one example of a particular phrase or concept that only a properly qualified, professional translator would be able to correctly communicate.

Below is an example that only a qualified chemical translator should translate.

Eng: Drug-induced hypokalaemia may enhance the curariform effect of skeletal muscle relaxants (e.g., tubocurarine).

Thai (incorrect): ยาที่ทำให้เกิดภาวะโพแทสเซียมต่ำ อาจส่งผลให้เกิดอาการชาในยาผ่อนคล้ายกล้ามเนื้อกระดูก (เช่น ทูโบคูรารีน)

(correct): ภาวะโปแตสเซียมต่ำที่เกิดจากยาอาจไปเพิ่มฤทธิ์คลายกล้ามเนื้อของยาคลายกล้ามเนื้อได้ (เช่น ทูโบคูรารีน)


Published - June 2009










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