Spelling… or speling?

One thing I find interesting in Thailand is the translation from Thai script into the latin letters most of the world uses. When you translate from one script to another, there is not necessarily a ‘correct’ translation (or, more correctly, “transliteration”).

For this reason, the Sathorn area of Bangkok, which is home to the Corporate Business District, has many variations on spelling. It is called:

And I am sure there are other spellings incorporating the letter ‘u’. What’s most baffling, though, is that there are varying spellings within a single location. So you can be in Sathorn BRT station and see signs for “Sathon Tai Road” and even other signs mentioning the BRT using different spellings.

Becky and I have discussed the fact that we sometimes hear different pronunciations of words when they’re said by Thai-speakers through our imperfect ears, so there may not be an actual ‘correct’ spelling, but you’d think there could be one spelling that groups could agree upon.


There are also spelling problems in English, though. Central Plaza mall has two English education establishments within it, but despite that there are still signs like this:

“Camela and lens” anyone? And where can I find “Finacial Service”? These aren’t one-offs – all other mentions of Financial Service, on all the other signs, are spelled the same way. As I said to a ‘bi-lingual’ school I worked at, “Can’t you get these things checked by an English speaker before printing them?” Their response? They laughed at me.


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