Hard to Read – Thai Numerals

Along with having its own alphabet that’s used for the national language Thailand also has its own symbols for numeric digits. They are not used much in normal communication or commerce – the Western system is much more common.

Here are the digits from zero to nine:

0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

Note the tiny difference between the “4″ and the “5″.

I’ve found two major uses for the Thai numerals:

  1. Price lists where the business owner wants to conceal that Westerners pay a different (invariably higher) price from Thai people.
  2. The registration (licence) plates for military vehicles.

Here’s an example of (1):

Dual Pricing at Pangsida National Park

Dual Pricing at Pangsida National Park

This the sign at the entrance to Pang Sida National Park in Sa Kaeo Province. Thai adults pay 40 Baht to enter the park, children pay 20 Baht. Foreign adults pay 200 Baht and children 100 Baht.

And an example of (2):

Thai Military Police Toyota Camry

Thai Military Police Toyota Camry

The registration is “2335″ :  ‘๒๓๓๕’ in Thai numerals.

In both cases the main reason seems to be obscurity rather than tradition.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thai_numerals.

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2 Responses to “Hard to Read – Thai Numerals”

  1. maewnam Says:

    Another use are the official government publications, like the law texts in the Royal Gazette. Except for a short time during WW II (then also with a simplified spelling) you won’t see a single western digit in there.

  2. Michael Willems Says:

    Sadly and shockingly, I am told by his wife that Ian has passed away.

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