Re: Lao Letter Fo Sung and Lao Letter Fo Tam

From: Richard Wordingham (
Date: Tue Oct 18 2005 - 13:00:31 CST

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    Andrew West wrote:

    > I certainly don't believe that just because someone I don't know and
    > have never previously heard of claims that a couple of Lao names are
    > wrong that this is necessarily the case. I was simply hoping that
    > someone on this list with expertise in Lao would be able to confirm or
    > deny the truth of what this person says. Obviously any demands for
    > immediate action to rectify this "mistake" are, to put it mildly,
    > premature.
    > According to the Unicode Standard, the Lao block is based on the Thao
    > IT Standard TIS 620-2529. The only copy of this standard that I have
    > been able to find is the code chart in Figure 1 at
    > <>.

    The current version of the standard, TIS 620-2533, is available on-line at , in Thai. It
    doesn't give the acrophonic part of the consonant names. Although the name
    of the standard is given in English as 'Standard for Thai Character Codes
    for Computers', the Thai name actually translates as 'Codes for Thai Letters
    that are used with Computers'. That not only excludes Lao letters, it also
    excludes the ancient subjoined letters! A light-hearted set of pictures for
    the Thai acrophonic words can be found at .

    The query about the Thai letters seems to be based on a misidentification of
    the Thai words, possibly based on Lao. The name 'fo fa' for U+0E1D is based
    on the Thai and Lao word U+0E1/9D U+0E3/B2 'lid; internal wall'. Thai
    grammar classes this letter as high ('sung').

    The suggestion that it the word is low may arise from misidentifying 'fa' as
    the Thai and Lao word U+0E1/9F U+0E4/C9 U+0E3/B2 'sky, blue' or perhaps Lao
    word U+0E9F U+0EB2 'blanket', both of which start with the low 'f'.

    The name 'fo fan' for U+0E1F is based on the Thai and Lao word U+0E1/9F
    U+0E3/B1 U+0E1/99, which means 'tooth' in Thai but 'gum' in Lao. Thai
    grammar classes this letter as low ('tam').

    The suggestion that the word is high, perhaps associated with the toothy
    grins often shown, may arise from misidentifying the 'fan' as the Thai and
    Lao word U+0E1/9D U+0E3/B1 U+0E1/99 'dream'.

    It's not difficult to find on-line Lao lessons describing U+0E9D (ຝ) as high
    and U+0E9F (ຟ) as low, e.g. a French set at . Lesson one gives
    U+0E9D (described as 'haute') and lesson 2 gives U+0E9F (described as
    'basse'). I choose a French example as it is probably less likely to be
    influenced by Thai than one given in English.


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