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Title: The Thai writing system
Author: Danvivathana, Nantana
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1981
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This thesis is a diacronic and synchronic study of the writing system of the standard Thai language. It is divided into three parts. Part I, which is the introductory part, contains two chapters. Chapter One discusses the relationship between speech and writing and a typology of writing systems. A brief sketch of the characteristics, the development and the phonological system of the Thai language is presented in Chapter Two. Part II, concerning my original investigation on the ancient Thai writing system, is composed of three chapters. Chapter Three details characteristics of the first and the second oldest known Thai scripts called the Sukhothaiscript (1293 A.D.) and King Li Thai script (1357 A.D.). The question of the origin of the Thai script from the cursive form of the ancient Cambodian script is considered in the light of cultural, archaeological, epigraphic and linguistic evidence. The phonetic interpretation of proto-Thai sounds on the basis of historical spelling is also discussed in this chapter. Chapter Four analyses the phonetic correlates of the orthography and the characteristics of the third oldest known Thai script, King Narai script (1680 A.D.). The gradual development of the Thai sound symbols from the Sukhothai script, King Li Thai script and King Narai script is shown in detail. Chapter Five describes the proposed reform of the Thai writing in 1917 by King Rame VI. The invention of new characters and setting up new rules of orthography which the king suggested for the Thai writing system are also presented. Part III, which contains seven chapters, is my own phonetic analysis of the relationship, or the 'fit', between the sounds of the present Thai language and the symbols that are used to represent them. Discussion on the closeness of the fit between sounds and symbols, i.e. in the regularity with which a given symbol represents a given sound and the problems in reading and writing the script, is presented in various places throughout this part. Chapter Six describes consonant symbols. Chapter Seven discusses syllable-initial consonant symbols. Vocalic symbols are reviewed in Chapter Eight. Chapter Nine is concerned with syllable final consonant symbols. Chapter Ten deals with tonal markers. Chapter Eleven concerns punctuation, mathematical symbols, distinctive treatment of words, spaces, numerals and abbreviations. Writing styles are illustrated in the final chapter, Chapter Twelve. The five appendices include a brief survey of earlier attempts to study the Thai script since 1854 A.D., a poem containing the designatory names of the forty-four Thai consonant symbols, the general system of transliteration of Thai characters into Roman invented by the Royal Thai Academy, notes on the transliteration of English words into Thai characters, and suggestions using Thai phonetic symbols in transcribing Thai dialects.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available