Thai Language Thai Culture: Thai Abbreviations Help Us Learn

Thai Language

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Thai Abbreviations Can Help Us Learn Vocabulary, Spelling and Pronunciation…

One chief bugaboo that has plagued me in my endeavors to learn to read Thai is the numerous abbreviations scattered all about newspapers and magazines. I usually end up skipping them when I read, but as they are usually integral to the story line I am forced to look them up later.

After a while (and in my case a long while) I remember a few. And it turns out that once I know what the abbreviation letters stand for, I can remember them more easily. And, as an added attraction, it helps me learn more vocabulary, spelling, and pronunciation.

Below are a few abbreviations that you will often run into. Breaking them down is a good way to add to your vocabulary. When you get stuck trying to decipher Thai abbreviations a good resource is where you can look up most of them. It also has a nice list of lots and lots of abbreviations in their reference section.

Bangkok: กทม.
กรุงเทพมหานคร /grung-tâyp-má-hǎa-ná-kon/

City, capital: กรุง /grung/
Angel: เทพ /tâyp/
Great: มหา /má-hǎa/
City,town: นคร /ná-kon/


Literally: The Great (Capital) City of Angels

Motorcycle: จยย.
จักรยานยนต์ /jàk-grà-yaan-yon/

Circle: จักร /jàk/
Vehicle: ยาน /yaan/
Engine: ยนต์ /yon/

Note: Most new learners of Thai will be familiar with the loan word for “motorcycle” มอเตอร์ไซค์ /mor-dter-sai/. จักรยานยนต์ /jàk-grà-yaan-yon/ is more formal, seen more often in writing. When speaking, I use the loan word just like everyone else does. By the way, the word จักรยาน /jàk-grà-yaan/ by itself means “bicycle” (two circles) so จักรยานยนต์ /jàk-grà-yaan-yon/ can mean “a bicycle with an engine”.

Medical Doctor: นพ.
นายแพทย์ /naai-pâet/, and (พญ.) แพทย์หญิง /pâet-yǐng/

Mr: นาย /naai/
Physician: แพทย์ /pâet/
Lady, female: หญิง /yǐng/

Note: There are two different words for physicians, one for males and one for females. Thai also uses another abbreviation for Doctor “ดร.” which is a direct transcription of “Dr.”

Director: ผอ.
ผู้อำนวยการ /pôo-am-nuay-gaan/

Person, one who…: ผู้ /pôo/
To give, produce: อำนวย /am-nuay/
Action: การ /gaan/
To direct: อำนวยการ /am-nuay-gaan/

Buddhist Era, B.E.: พ.ศ.
พุทธศักราช /pút-tá-sàk-gà-ràat/

Buddha, Buddhist: พุทธ /pút, also pút-tá/
Era, period: ศักราช /sàk-gà-ràat/

School: ร.ร.
โรงเรียน /rohng-rian/

Hall, house, building: โรง /rohng/
To study: เรียน /rian/

Hospital: รพ.
โรงพยาบาล /rohng-pá-yaa-baan/

Hall, house, building: โรง /rohng/
To care for, cure: พยาบาล /pá-yaa-baan/

Note: The word พยาบาล /pá-yaa-baan/ is also used to mean “nurse”. Both the noun and the verb form.

Police Station: สน.
สถานีตำรวจ /sà-tǎa-nee-dtam-rùat/

Station: สถานี /sà-tǎa-nee/
Law enforcement officer, police: ตำรวจ /dtam-rùat/

Note: The abbreviation for “police man” is ตร. (ตำรวจ /dtam-rùat/).

Member of Parliament: ส.ส.
สมาชิกสภาผู้แทนราษฎร /sà-maa-chík-sà-paa-pôo-taen-râat-sà-don/

Member: สมาชิก /sà-maa-chík/
Parliament: สภา /sà-pa/
Representative: ผู้แทน /pôo-taen/
Citizen: ราษฎร râat-sà-don/

Provincial Governor: ผวจ.
ผู้ว่าราชการจังหวัด /pôo-wâa-râat-chá-gaan jang-wàt/

Governor: ผู้ว่า /pôo-wâa/
Government service: ราชการ /râat-chá-gaan/
Province: จังหวัด /jang-wàt/

Note: ผว. (governor) is an abbreviation of the abbreviation ผวจ. (provincial governor).

Kilometer: กม.
กิโลเมตร /gì-loh-máyt/

Kilo, loan word: กิโล /gì-loh/
Meter, loan word: เมตร /máyt/

Some common single letter abbreviations can’t be broken down into parts but are fairly obvious once we know what Thai words they stand for:

Province: จ., sometimes จว.
จังหวัด /jang-wàt/

Alley, lane: ซ.
ซอย /soi/

Meter: ม.
เมตร /máyt/
Loan word from “meter”

Teacher: อ.
อาจารย์ /aa-jaan/

Mister: มร.
Transcription of the loan word “Mister”

O’clock: น.
นาฬิกา /naa-lí-gaa/

Using นาฬิกา /naa-lí-gaa/ (as in สิบสามนาฬิกา /sìp-sǎam naa-lí-gaa/, 13:00 hours, or 1pm) is the more formal way of telling time. This word can also mean “clock” or “watch”.

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
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