Hey great start! I'm glad to see more of Thailand appearing. I was wondering if anyone has a good idea how to do the Thai names-- what I'd love is to settle on some sort of authority so we don't end up with Koh Phangan, Ko Pha Ngan and Kohpahngan (Ko(h) Sa(r)n Road is another good example). Any ideas? Majnoona
Mostly, if you do not know how to speak (pronounce) Thai, the romanizations you see will not help you talk to a Thai person. You will speak gibberish. Thai is tonal, and has many phonemes that do not present in many Western languages, esp. English. Seriously, if you try to pronounce ANY Romanized Thai phrases from ANY Romanization system, you will not even come close except maybe very short words, and that is questionable...
Take "Koh" or "Ko" as in 'island.' It is always pronounced by westerners with a [k] sound. It has become 'standard' among westerners. It is wrong! The word in Thai is pronounced with a [g] sound. This is because the "Koh" transliteration is based on IPA (not the beer - International Phonetic Alphabet) and in IPA, a 'k' is pronounced [g]. 'Kh' is pronounced [k], as in 'khao' ('mountain'). As for 'Tao,' as in 'Koh Tao,' the 'ao' vowel is spoken with a 'falling' tone, and speaking it in a flat, 'middle' tone renders it into a distinct and separate word. On Koh Tao, you can pronounce it like everyone. In Issan, in the Northwest, few outside of tour providers will have a clue what you are saying!
Your best bet, and I highly recommend this as a great way to meet Thai people anyway: STOP TRYING TO USE PHRASE BOOKS OR PRONOUNCE THINGS ON YOUR OWN! ASK A THAI PERSON TO TEACH YOU HOW TO SAY THE WORD! They will use correct tone, etc., and the process will no doubt cause much laughter and friendly exchange. You will find this to be a highlight of your trip if you do it often. You will come to recognize Thai people who are very willing to show you...Most consider it very respectfull of Thailand and Thai people if you show a desire to learn the language.
BTW I studied Applied Linguistics and I speak, read, and write Thai. Please trust me on this one!!Gst.steven (talk) 06:04, 2 February 2015 (EST)
Apparently there's a lot of problems with romanization of the Thai alphabet. According this article, "Ko" is the official word, but it's sometimes written as "Koh". I think that with no schematic romanization in popular use, maybe the best idea is to use the most official romanization. -- Evan 12:48, 5 Nov 2003 (PST)
Yah, got all that. What I'm hoping for is that we can find one source, or list of place names that we can point to and say "we're doing it like this" rather than have everyone's idea of what's "most official" (since the Thai gov can't quite decide either). Havign a list is easier than trying to look at the Royal Institute with Pattaya or whatever every time we want to sound out a name. I'll look around for one. Majnoona
Oh, man, it's a pain in the butt, actually. The Royal Institute has their Romanization ("Ko", for example), but other government organizations like the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) don't use it (they say "Koh"). I guess I'd say go with TAT, at this point, since they're the tourist resource and probably overseas and local tourist organizations would copy their names. -- Evan 13:01, 5 Nov 2003 (PST)
Better late than never: the above has been listed on Wikitravel:Romanization as policy for a while, and now I'm attempting to enforce it. Please help out. Jpatokal 01:17, 2 Feb 2005 (EST)
Romanization in Thai is really tricky. There is no standard and even if we develop a standard on this page it will probably be different once the traveler gets there. I know this is probably wiki-heresey but maybe its better to keep prospective travelers on their toes about the changing names. Gcilley