My name(s)

For the linguistically curious, my name in Thai is written พลรวี ประเสริฐสม. It is pronounced [pʰon.ɾa.ˈwiː.pɾa.sɤ̀ːt.sǒm]. If you do not read the IPA, I have been told by a native English speaker that my name can be pronounced ''exactly as it is written" in English (Ponrawee Prasertsom), so you can probably do that as well.

My first name, Ponrawee, is supposed to mean 'the power of the sun' (from Indic बल​/bala 'power, strength' and रवि/ravi 'sun, the sun god'), but, strictly speaking, it should mean 'the sun of the power' because Indic compounds are head-final. My last name, Prasertsom 'deserving of excellence', is even worse structurally. Prasert is from Sanskrit प्रश्रेष्ठ/pra-śreṣṭha 'very-excellent' and som is from Indic सम/sama 'same, equal'. My Sanskrit is rusty, but I am pretty sure this structure is not allowed in Sanskrit either. These ungrammaticalities are ubiquituous in Thai pseudo-Indic names.

Thais generally have nicknames, or as one of my friends more accurately calls them ''chill names'', that are completely unrelated to their first names. Thai nicknames can in principle be anything that is short enough, but they are mostly a matter of fashion. You can read more about them here. My nickname is Tongla/ต้นกล้า [tôn.klâː] 'seedling'. As it turns out, gla [klâː] '(rice) seedling' can be shown to be a borrowing from Chinese before the 1st-2nd century CE. The etymology of Ton 'stem, tree' is less clear.

This page was last updated on 5 May 2022.
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