The stupidity of Royal Language in Thailand

Giles Ji Ungpakorn


In Thailand a special “Royal Language” is enforced when writing or talking about members of the royal family. The vocabulary in this royal language comes from Sanskrit via Cambodia. It applies to verbs used to describe the various actions of the royals, nouns for parts of their bodies and also their belongings. Not only this, the royals can never be called by their names but must be referred to by long strung-out titles which describe how ordinary people are lower than the dust beneath their feet.


The new King-name of the odious Wachralongkorn is a good example. It is: “SomdetPrajaoYuHuaMahaWachiralongkornBdintornTepyawaRangkun” which means “His Majesty, God Above Us ,The Great Wachiralongkorn, Succeeding in all Future Endeavours, Descended from Angels.” And this is the name of the guy who failed his education and abuses women!!


The sight of the dysfunctional and awful members of the royal family being described in such complicated terms, inherited from Cambodia, is farcical in itself because most royalist despise Cambodians. However the prolonged illness of king Pumipon before his timely death added to this farce.

Official declarations from the Palace about the king’s health were peppered with royal language describing his fevers, his lungs, his breathing, his kidneys, his urine, his blood, his head etc. Doctors were described as “offering” treatment in terms similar to offerings made to the gods. The words used were so complicated and unknown to the vast majority of Thais that each sentence had to carry translations into Thai in brackets behind each royal word. Otherwise we would not have understood any of the health bulletins.


In one of the final bulletins, they even started to use English. The term “Continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT)”, which the king was receiving, was described only in English. This might have been because they hadn’t had time to think up the royal terminology for such treatment or it could be that they wanted most Thais, who do not understand English, not to understand that Pumipon had serious kidney dysfunction, was critically ill, and about to die.

Pumipon took up an entire floor at an important state hospital in Bangkok. They even seemed to allow his dog to enter the hospital, but no doubt it only carried special and harmless royal germs.

Another aspect of the use of royal language in Thailand is that it is applied to foreign royals like the parasites in the UK and even the Pope. This is in spite of the fact that royal language is never used in the West.

All this is designed to ram it down our throats that the royals are super-humans with a higher status than us mortals. It is designed to try to ensure that we accept that there is a “natural order” in society. For those tempted to ignore this, there is the despicable lèse-majesté law used to enforce “respect” for the royals and also to protect the military and conservative elites and even the king’s dog.


Lèse-majesté is the oppressive law used to jail most political prisoners in Thailand today and many Thai exiles abroad, including myself, are living outside Thailand because of this law.

Forward to a truly democratic republic!!

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