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  • Having been to Thailand recently, I failed completely at the time to decipher the letters and sounds of their alphabet.


    May the curse of a thousand years fall upon the fruit of your loins! (Actually, that says "King Ramkhamhaeng the Great".)

    Reading about it [] is like getting an exercise in pain.

    • Oh God yes! Thai is difficult phonetically, orthographically, pragmatically, and fontographically. (I hear its syntax and morphology are relatively straightforward tho -- it's not like they're trying to be difficult.)

      When people ask me what languages have the scariest writing systems, I usually say Gaelic and Tibetan, but really Thai gives both those a run for their money. But it's a close race, because each brings its own extra menace to the difficulty of the writing system: Gaelic brings its horrible morphology that interacts with the writing system in odd ways; Tibetan brings the fact that its characters stack vertically in complex ways []; and Thai brings the fact that many letters vary only in the slightest little serif-- to say nothing of syllabifying things being both necessary and difficult.

      (And then there's Japanese, but that's in a class of its own as far as sheer insanity.)

      Considering how supposedly laid back Thai people are, it's surprising how breathtakingly hard their language is.

      I sort of feel sorry for their situation: their writing system is such a mess currently that the obvious solution is the hardest one: to completely toss out the current system and start from stratch, at the cost of making everyone instantly illiterate. But clearly the only thing one can do is have incremental changes, but there's just so much wrong with the current system that there would be so many changes that it'd take centuries to phase them all in. Same situation with Tibetan, too. And both of those being languages spoken by people who already have so much trouble to deal with -- in Thailand, an HIV rate that

      BTW, Thai and Japanese are the two parts of Unidecode [] where, as I was writing it, I basically said to myself "I'll be amazed if anyone can get any use out of this."