[From Theraphan L. Thongkum and Pranee Kullavanijaya, Lexicography of the Thai Language (1991).  In An International Encyclopedia of Lexicography edited by Franz Josef Hausmann et al, pp. 2576-2583. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.   Reproduced by permission; minor formatting has been added for readability.]


3.   The First Monolingual Thai Dictionary

In a survey of dictionaries in such large libraries in Bangkok as the National Library, the Siam Society Library, and the Chulalongkorn University Library, it was found that books which list Thai words and explain their meanings have been called by a wide variety of names.  Some of these names, here written, as are all proper names in Thai appearing in this article, in phonemic transcription (see Sec. 2.) are:


ʔàkkharaaphíʔthaansàp (Bradley 1873),

pàthaanúʔkrom (Textbook Department 1927),

phótcànaanúʔkrom (Education Department 1891),

khamrítsàdii (paramaanúchít chíʔnoorót et al. 1905),

khamphiisàppháʔphótcanaanúʔjôok (Smith 1899—1908),

sàppháʔphácanáʔ (Pallegoix 1854),

ʔʔkaráʔmaajon (Michell 1891),

sàri'ʔphót (Pallegoix/Vey 1896),

wácànaanúkrom (maalaj 1923),

ʔcànaaphíʔthaan (wíʔsìt 1961), and

sàpthaannúʔkrom (plɛɛk 1976).


     All of these names were coined from Pali or Sanskrit words and only three, namely phótcànaanúʔkrom, pàthaanúʔkrom, and sàpthaanúʔkrom, are still used as names for dictionaries; the others have passed from use.

     Among the compilations of Bangkok Thai vocabulary of whatever name, the oldest known monolingual dictionary is ʔàkkharaaphíʔthaansàp: Dictionary of the Siamese Language by Dr. Dan Beach Bradley.  This was published in 1873 by the American Missionary Association Press, which Bradley had established and for which he had brought a press and Thai type from Singapore (nuuəncan et al. 1981). The number of copies issued in the first printing is not known.

     The dictionary, a quarto volume of 428 pages, contains about 40,000 words used in everyday life, in literature, in religion, in other areas such as law, government, traditional medicine, the arts, crafts, and also the names of plants and animals. The year of publication, 1873, was the year of Bradley's death, and the dictionary has no prefatory sections explaining the background of the undertaking, the principles governing the arrangement of the entries, the meanings of the abbreviations used in it and other such matters.

     All there is a five-line advertisement which, in addition to specifying in detail the time and place of publication, says that the work is a compendium of Thai words with their meanings explained and that the person who defined the words and transcribed the work was ʔaacaan thát.

     About 98 years after publication, the Teachers' Institute Press reprinted the dictionary. The reprint is provided with an introduction but this gives no further information on the compilation of the work. For insight into the background of the work, the authors are thus indebted to ʔaacaan chalɔ̌ɔŋ sǔntharaawaanít, who advised them of the Abstract of the Journal of Rev. Dan Beach Bradley, M D., Medical Missionary in Siam, 1837—1873 (Feltus 1936), many passages in which refer to the dictionary project.

     Bradley began collecting words in 1838 and the manuscript was completed in 1855 and sent to the printery. At the time of Bradley's death in 1873, the work was still in press and it was his son, Dan F. Bradley, who saw it through publication.

     In a journal entry dated February 21, 1838, Bradley states his goals in undertaking the work:

"Made some preparations to commence writing on my Dictionary of Siamese words with Siamese definitions only. My object in preparing such a work is first for the benefits of missionaries in acquiring the language, and second for a standard work for the Siamese themselves. It appears to me that after a person has been studying a language or two a dictionary with purely Siamese definitions will be found far better than one with English definitions, for in the former he will have the great advantage of learning synonyms whereas in the latter he would not.

     “And it strikes me that we ought to improve and settle the Siamese language which is now entirely destitute of anything like a dictionary and although there is a small book which bears the name of a grammar, yet it is almost useless because there are no two copies of it that do not contradict each other. Consequently there is much confusion among Siamese teachers touching the questions what is right and what is wrong" (Feltus 1936, 49 f.).

     In gathering information for his dictionary, Bradley was assisted by a wordlist prepared by Mr. Gutslaff (Feltus 1936.49). It is also possible that he consulted works that either had been or were being prepared at that time. These include a monolingual dictionary of literary words, paramaanúchítchíʔnoorót et al. (MS, n.d., published later in 1905), which had been in manuscript several decades before publication, two Thai-English dictionaries, Jones (1846) and McFarland (1865), a Thai-Latin-French-English dictionary, Pallegoix (1854), and also a handwritten manuscript prepared by a Catholic bishop that is mentioned in Feltus (1936, 173).

     In the compiling of the dictionary, Bradley was assisted by his Thai teachers, ʔaacaan thát (Kru That) and naaj mɨɨəŋ (Nai Muang). To Kru That fell the task of defining the words and in this he was helped by Nai Muang. The authors are convinced that Kru That was a Buddhist monk, for in many journal entries Bradley writes of conversing with Kru That in the company of monks at a monastery, as in this extract dated August 12, 1851:

 "Visited Wat Kru That again and had a good time talking to a company of priests. They came around me at my request and heard me preach Christ Jesus, with much apparent interest" (Feltus 1936, 141).

     It may thus be said that the dictionary was the fruit of the cooperative effort of an American missionary and a Thai monk: the American, Bradley, served as producer and director and laid out the structure and the form of the work while the writing of the definitions was the responsibility of the Thais, Kru That and Nai Muang.

     As in other Thai dictionaries, entries in Bradley 1873 are arranged by word initial consonant according to the traditional alphabetical order from <> = /k/ to <> = /h/. It is interesting, however, that entries with initial <> = /kh/ are not separated from those with initial <> = /kh/; rather, words with these two initials are integrated in one section ordered by vowel.  In like manner, words with initial <> = /s/ and <> /s/ are presented together in one section.

     This differs from other dictionaries, in which entries with these initial letters are separated. Also unlike other dictionaries, words with initial <,ฤๅ,,ฦๅ> = /rɨʔ, rɨɨ, lɨʔ, lɨɨ/, which in Thai orthography are regarded as vowels, are in Bradley 1873 placed after <> = /h/, the 44th and final consonant. Furthermore, entries written with two contiguous initial consonant letters are ordered on the basis of their pronunciation. Entries under each initial are arranged by their vowels according to the order of vowels in a Thai primer of Bradley's time, prathǒmakɔɔkaa (MS, n.n., n.d.), which was:

<-> = /aa/, <-> = /i/, <-> = /ii/, <-> = /ɨ/, <-> = /ɨɨ/, <-> = /u/, <-> = /uu/, <เ-> = /ee/, <แ-> = /ɛɛ/, <ไ-> = /aj/, <ใ-> = /aj/, <โ-> = /oo/, <เ-า> = /aw/, <-> = /am/, <-> = /a/.

     Beyond this, the arrangement of entries depended upon the vowel in combination with the final consonants, which were ordered

<-> = /-k/, <-> = /-ŋ/, <-> = /-t/, <-> = /-n/, <-> = /-p/, <-> = /-m/.

The order of vowels with the final consonant <-> = /-p/ is an example:

<-> = /op/, <-ับ> = /ap/, <-าบ> = /aap/, < -ิบ> = /ip/, < -ีบ> = /iip/, < -ึบ> = /ɨp/, < -ืบ> = /ɨɨp/, <-ุบ> = /up/, <-ูบ> = /uup/, <เ-็บ> = /ep/, <เ-บ> = /eep/, <แ-บ> = /ɛɛp/, <โ-บ> = /oop/, <-อบ> = /ɔɔp/, <-วบ> = /uuəp/, <เ-ียบ> = /iiəp/, <เ-ือบ> = /ɨɨəp/, <เ-ิบ> = /əəp/.

     The order of the tone markers in Bradley 1873 is the same as that in other Thai dictionaries; words with no tone marker are first, followed by those with <-> = /máaj ʔèek/, <-> = /máaj thoo/, <-> = /máaj trii/, and <-> = /máaj càttawaa/ in succession.

     In the grouping of entries it can be seen that sometimes sub-entries are not related to the main entry in terms of meaning; the only similarity is in pronunciation.

     The punctuation marks used in Bradley 1873 are the comma, which immediately follows each entry word and which separates senses in the definition, and the period, which marks the end of a definition and which thus separates the definitions of homographs grouped under one entry word. Bradley 1873 does not indicate the pronunciation, the syntactic function, or the etymology of entries.

     It is nevertheless a useful dictionary of value in research on the meanings of Thai words and expressions of an earlier time. It was the first Thai dictionary to bring together a large number of words from many fields. Most importantly, it stimulated the interest of Thais in the lexicography of their language. The compilers of the official dictionaries which followed used the entries in Bradley 1873 as a foundation; they did not have to break new ground.