Woeful Transliteration #2: A Tale Of Two Poos

5 August 2014, TV = 840.5 hours


[Note: I’ve  added strikethrough corrections and comments in square brackets to address a mistake I’d made, see footnote 2 below for the full explanation].

Well, I don’t think this is civet coffee (which anyway I’ve no desire to try).

From my perspective as an English-speaker, however,  there’s even worse:

Saiyuud Diwong's Cooking with Poo, winner of the Diagram prize for the oddest book title of the year

Although checking out the website, it looks like the name is an intentional, attention-seeking gimmick. (My suspicions were aroused by the aprons emblazened “I cooked with POO and I liked it,” plus the implication on the about page that the owner may have had help from an English-speaking friend).

But I did learn something interesting. In both cases, I had assumed that the Thai name being transliterated into English was ปู.

And what is ปู? This is ปู:

crab image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ghost_crab.jpg

It’s a perfectly good Thai (nick)name1, shared for example by former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and with (so far as I know) none of the associations of its English equivalent (i.e., ill tempered, etc).

But then reading Cooking With Poo‘s about page, I learned that the proprietor’s nickname is actually a shortened version of ชมพู ชมพู่ — so, presumably พู พู่, not ปู.2

And what is ชมพู ชมพู่? This is ชมพู ชมพู่:

image retrieved fromhttp://simpleayurvedichealthtips.blogspot.com/2013_04_01_archive.html

Also this color: [correction: this color is ชมพู, not ชมพู่]

Image retrieved from  http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=56634&picture=pink-textured-paper-background

(By the way, ชมพู ชมพู่ also happens to be the name of a well-known Thai actress — she can be seen in the video clip in my post on วัยว้าวุ่น).

Not only are the two three poos spelled differently in Thai, but pronunciation is different too. You can try hearing this for yourself by using dekgeng, a website designed to help Thai kids learn to read and write; links to the specific pages are here (for ปู) and here (for พู). Just look for the letter and click it to hear the audio. [Unfortunately, I haven’t found a link to audio for พู่, the shortened version of ชมพู่].

Lastly, I should note that it’s not only non-native English speakers who, errm,  put their foot in it – native speakers who know full well better can turn out  the same kind of crap!

* * *


1. From what I’ve seen, Thai people usually go by their shorter nicknames rather than their longer “real” names.
2. OK, so there are some problems with this post as I originally wrote it, and if I knew then what I know now, maybe I would have called it Woeful Transliteration #2: A Tale Of Three Poos! I didn’t realize that the word for the fruit pictured above, and the word for the color pictured above, are not the same; as it turns out, ชมพู่ and ชมพู sound, and are spelled, differently. But I’ve decided to let the post basically stand as I wrote it, with some corrections in the form of strikethroughs and comments added in square brackets, because I’m too lazy to rewrite the whole thing because it’s a good illustration of a certain type of mistake that I think is actually integral to the language-learning process (at least for me, at any rate): initially perceiving as the same two things that are actually different. I’ve done this before and, at least in some cases, autocorrected – and of course, it’s only once I gain the ability to differentiate between the two things that I’d been erroneously conflating, that I would realize I’d been making a mistake all along. In this case though, my error was pointed out to me (thanks Bee!) — see the comment section below.



UPDATED on 8 August 2014 to add corrections; see footnote 2 above for details.


8 thoughts on “Woeful Transliteration #2: A Tale Of Two Poos

  1. Bee

    คนไทย เรียกคนอายุมากกว่า โดยมีคำขึ้นต้นว่า “พี่” เช่น พี่อดัม
    Thai people always call the one who is older than them by using “P” in front of the name, for example P Adam. แต่บางคนจะเขียน Pee เพื่อให้ออกเสียงได้ตรงกับเสียงภา
    ษาไทย but some people write Pee in front of the name because it’s sound close to พี่

    please do not get angry when Thai call you Pee Adam. 😛

  2. Bee

    ชมพู = Pink,
    ชมพู่ = rose apple : The Thai actress , her name is ชมพู่ not ชมพู . Her name is fruit not color.

    1. adamf2011 Post author

      Ah, I never realized those were two different words. Plugging ชมพู่ ชมพู into google translate and clicking the audio button, I can hear that they sound different.

      Thanks for the correction! 🙂

  3. Pingback: More Poo Than I Ever Knew: A Failure To Differentiate | learning thai without studying

  4. Pingback: Woeful Transliteration #3 | learning thai without studying

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