marcel barang

Jolly etymology

In English on 09/02/2010 at 10:12 pm


Just now, I got etymologically curious about that royal decoration whose short name is ทุติยวิเศษ – pronounced thutiyawiseit. It happens to be the title of Bunluea’s excellent political novel I translated not so long ago – a translation for which I am waiting for permission to publish (more on that later).

So I looked it up in a number of online Thai-English dictionaries.

Two pleaded ‘no such word’, which doesn’t say much for their vocabulary spread.

One puzzling answer I got was from thai2english:

ทุ  bad; evil; wicked

ติ [to] blame; criticize

ย  yor yak (the thirty fourth letter of the Thai alphabet)

วิเศษ superb; excellent; splendid

Another answer I got, for ทุติย only, was from thai-language:

ทุติย noun, Pali: son; friend; successor; companion; fellow

ทุติย noun, Pali: second class; second person

ทุติย adjective, Pali: for the second time; doubled

Go figure.

So I figured: all compound words of ทุติย have a ‘second’ meaning implication, never mind the ทุ and the ติ and the yor yak; so, superb second-class distinction.

It is the royal decoration given a Tharnphooying, that is, a Lady, a title above that of Khunying (Dame, usually grandly mistranslated as Lady).

  1. If you look at the Order of Precedence in the Thai Honours System (Eng/Thai), วิเศษ is used to mean “higher grade”–at least, that’s the translation the Cabinet website uses.

    So ทุติยวิเศษ means something like “second class, higher grade” — higher than ทุติย- normal second class and lower than ปฐม- first class.

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