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Bangkok: Longest. Name. Ever. Posted by on Dec 21, 2010 in Beginner, Culture, History, Intermediate

Did you know that the Thai name for Bangkok is the longest name for a city in the world? First, a little history . . .

Bangkok is the fourth and hopefully last of the Thai capitals. It started off as a small trading post in the 1700’s, and its name was changed to Krung Thep when it became the new capital in 1782. But despite the name change, in the west it’s still referred to as Bangkok. I apologize for the over-simplified history lesson, but this is of course a language blog!

The name Krung Thep is actually just the first two words of the full city name, which actually comes from a poem:

“Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit”

 

which means:

“The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.”

and, written out in Thai, is:

กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุทธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

and, in short hand, can be written as:

กรุงเทพฯ (grung thep) or กรุงเทพมหานครฯ (grung thep mahanakon)

where the final ฯ symbol means the word has been abbreviated.

I’ve heard that some Thai children are required to memorize this name in school, but I’d still estimate a good 2/3rds of Thais cannot recite it for you. It took me ~10 hours of practice to have it really well memorized, but it makes a great party trick to impress your Thai friends. Or perhaps just embarrass them that a farang knows it and they don’t . . .

 

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