Lost in translation: Thai road sign riddle baffles tourists

Image courtesy of Khaosod.

The director of the Phitsanulok Highway District, Awirut Thapthimthae, addressed the public confusion caused by the road sign for Wat Chan Thawan Ok. The sign, situated on the Phitsanulok-Nakhon Sawan highway or Si Racha Dechochai Road, in Wat Chan, Mueang, Phitsanulok, has been in place for over a decade.

However, it has led to mispronunciations by foreign tourists, causing confusion due to the phonetics of the English transliteration. The sign was written according to the dictionary but has proven problematic for non-Thai speakers. To resolve this, the local authorities have surveyed the Wat Chan Thawan Ok temple and concluded that the sign should be adjusted to read Wat Chan Thawan Ork.

This change is anticipated to reduce tourist confusion. Furthermore, the English name for the Ton We intersection will be rectified to Ton Wa, which will further aid international visitors in finding their way into the vicinity.

Awirut Thapthimthae made known that the sign serves as a public marker for a tourist route and has been in existence for over a decade.

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“We’ve acknowledged the confusion it has generated among foreign tourists and have decided to modify the sign to better align with the temple’s name phonetically.

“Our officials have consulted with Wat Chan Thawan Ok temple, and we’ve reached an agreement that the sign should read Wat Chan Thawan Ork. We expect this alteration to prevent additional confusion among tourists. As for the Ton We junction, we will also amend its English name to Ton Wa.

This incident has ignited a lively online debate, with social media users discussing the intricacies of transliteration and the significance of clear, precise signage for tourists. The adjustments to the signs are slated to occur promptly to assist tourists in navigating the area, reported Khaosod.

In related tourism news, a misunderstanding between a beach chair vendor and a tourist in Cha-am Beach, Phetchaburi, resulted in the vendor being suspended from work for 15 days. Read more about the story HERE.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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