Passing by the Old Bangkok International Airport the other day, I noticed the new airport sign that read “Don Mueang International Airport”. What annoyed me was the fact that they decided to use “Mueang” instead of the usual “Muang”. I know they try to tell foreigners that ‘mueang” should be pronounced differently than “muang”, but will that help?
I’m not the only person who feel uneasy about the flexible approach that people take when writing Thai words in roman alphabets. (See my other post.) Here is a proof.
A post at website www.luchtzak.be is complaining: “The airport exists 93years and its name was always spelled Don Muang. So it was, so it will remain, for us.”
Actually, the spelling of the name of the new internal airport of Bangkok “Suvarnabhumi” is also a little too strangely elaborated. They probably try to reflect the old Indian Pali origin of the name but it may have been “Suwannapoom” if the closest Thai pronunciation were given priority.
The bottom line is Thai writing and pronunciation is a little tricky to have a unified rule for romanization. So, I guess we will have to live with this little annoyance for sometime.
Latest Addition (June 10, 2007)
I can confirm now that there is actually a set of official rules for romanizing Thai language established by the Royal Institute. The latest version dated January 11, 1999 replaces the former version which was announced 60 years earlier. One of the changes was actually the introduction of “uea” sound to differentiate from the “ua” sound. So, the Airport Authority of Thailand just followed the rules by using “Don Mueang” instead of the more common “Don Muang.” You may check out an English summary of the rules in Wikipedia.
Well, few Thais know or care about the official Thai romanizing rules and there is no attempt to enforce them so far.