Sunday, September 06, 2015

History of Thai Dictionaries

A brief history of Thai dictionaries
ประวัติย่อ พจนานุกรม ในไทย
Early dictionaries (of Ayutthaya and Early Bangkok period)

The first dictionary in Thailand was prepared by a French priest Rev. Louis Laneau (1664-1689, ~B.E. 2207-2236) during the reign of King Narai the Great, of Ayutthaya Kingdom. It was a French-Thai and Thai-French dictionary in the form of written manuscript using Roman alphabets.

In a famous Thai language textbook and literature จินดามณี (Chindamanee) elegantly penned by พระโหราธิบดี (Phra Horathipati, 'the astrologers' lord') during the reign of King Narai the Great, there was a section named อักษรศัพท์ (vocabulary words) listing about 600 Thai words. (Note: I have not seen the manuscript so I don't know if descriptions on meanings were given for the words or not. If not, as I tend to guess, it might be just a compendium of Thai vocabularies for students to learn to write words or to use as a guide to practice penmanship)

Later dictionaries were produced during Bangkok as the Capital.

A Thai dictionary, also in manuscript form, called คำฤษฎี  (pronounced 'Kam Risadee') was prepared in 1790-1853 (B.E. 2333-2396) during the reigns of King Rama II, III, IV, of Bangkok era by 3 Princes:  กรมพระปรมานุชิตชิโนรส , สมเด็จกรมพระยาเดชาดิสร , กรมหลวงภูวเนสตนรินทรฤทธิ์ . The dictionary described borrowed Sanskrit (unsorted) words used in Thai literatures at that time.

A bilingual dictionary, English-Thai and Thai-English dictionary, was said to be prepared by an American missionary, Rev. John Taylor Jones (1802-1851). But no evidence of this book remained.

A dictionary was prepared by Rev. J. Caswell and J.H. Chandler, in 1846 (B.E. 2407), as sorted-word manuscript, with spellings used during the reign of King Rama III (which is different from the current ones).

Around that time, Rev.  Jean-Baptiste Pallegoix prepared 2 dictionaries:-
 -  One is a bilingual Latin-Thai dictionary called Dictionarium Thai AD Usum Missions Siamensis (in B.E. 2393). A manuscript is kept at the rare document room at the Thailand National Library in Bangkok.
 -  Another dictionary สัพะ พะจะนะ พาสา ไท or Dictionarium Lingueae Thai was a quadrilingual Thai-Latin-French-English listing. There were some photo-reprints of this book commercially available in some bookstores.

This dictionary was later edited and improved upon by Rev. Jean-Louis Vey and he changed its Thai book title into ศริพจน์ภาษาไทย์ (Saripoj Pasa Thai) although Vey still gave credit to the previous author, Pallegoix. Its English title was Siamese French English dictionary by D.J.B. Pallegoix, which was published in B.E. 2439, and reprinted in B.E. 2542.

Rev. S. G. McFarland compiled the English and Siamese dictionary, and printed in B.E. 2408 in Phetchaburi province, comprising of around 7,500 words.

Improved versions was made by his son, Dr. George Bradley McFarland, and was called a Thai English Dictionary.
Note that Dr. G.B. McFarland was the first senior doctor and faculty member of of Siriraj Hospital (now part of Mahidol University). (G.B. McFarland was born in Phetchaburi, Thailand, so he as a Thai citizen who is also an American). He was later bestowed a government (aristocratic) official title by the King of Thailand as อำมาตย์เอก พระอาจวิทยาคม  (Translation of his title: First Class Lord,  The Knowledge Capable One). He was a founder of the Vidhayakom company in Thailand, when he created the first Thai language typewriters and sold them. (I believe he planned the keyboard layout, then order the equipment manufactured in the USA.)

A dictionary published in 1873 was อักขราภิธานศรับท์ (Akrapithansab) or Dictionary of the Siamese Language by Rev. Dan Beach Bradley (1804-1873). It should be noted that Bradley established a printing press at his home, which printed several books at that time.

There is another bilingual Thai-French dictionary: Dictionaire Francais-Siamois by Ven. Marie-Joseph Cuza, which was published in Bangkok in B.E. 2446 (1903)

Ref: Some information used for writing this blog was obtained from a Thai text on ประวัติและวิวัฒนาการของพจนานุกรม(ตอนที่ 2) at the Sanamchandra Palace Library's Blog
& other sources

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