Admirable Abhisit can do without superfluous English

your say August 02, 2016 01:00

It’s good to hear that Abhisit Vejjajiva plans to run for office again in the future (whenever Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha decides there can be an election). Abhisit is a rarity in Thai politics - he doesn’t lie and he doesn’t worship money.

A note about transliteration, though. There is no “h” in Abhisit’s name. The Thai spelling is actually closer to “Apisit”, with a silent “ree” syllable at the end. The name translates as “prerogative”, according to Google.
Why are those who transliterate Thai so fixated on adding the letter “h” to many words? The “h” is unnecessary. Transliteration to English is a convenience for English speakers, not for Thais. 
Tha Thorn, for example, is an accepted transliteration of the name of a northern town. But it should be one word, not two, and written as Taton, because that’s how it’s written in Thai and that’s how the name sounds. And there’s no “r” in the Thai spelling.
English-speakers want simple and accurate transliterations. Google Translate does an even worse job with Thai, offering transliterations that are not only inaccurate but also make ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics look like the ABCs. 
It’s absurd, and yet scholars don’t want plain truth – they want to complicate and obfuscate things. That’s why they go to university for eight years and can then put letters after their names to show the world how superior their intellect is to us common folk. In effect, scholarship equals complicating things. 
Ken Albertsen
Editor’s note: “Abhisit” is the Democrat Party leader’s preferred romanised spelling of his name.