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How to Spell Chiang Mai

by Major Roy Hudson

Whereas Bangkok is a mere 200 years old, Chiang Mai was founded in the late 13th century. This year marks the official 700 year anniversary. It was once of the capital of Lanna, an independent Thai Kingdom and has remained one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements of the Kingdom. The north was teak country where elephants used to work in the forests. It is the commerce that drew foreign entrepreneurs to north Thailand. As they wrote in journals and letters to their families about this beautiful area, evidence shows each wrote their own spelling of Chiang Mai. In this last month of the 700 year celebration, this following article reminds us of the influence of the west in the history of northern Thailand. - Ed.

Chiang Mai can be translated as New Town. In Thai script it is written in one word. Until recent years there has been no official method of transliterating Thai into Romanized form and many different versions of the name can be found. I myself have collected 120 different spellings from various books, letters, personal communications, and maps.

Ralph Fitch, the Englishman who visited Chiang Mai in 1587 (four hundred years ago) spelt the town Iamahey. In 1615 The East India Company favored Jangoma, while the early Portuguese used Chiangmai. The French called the place Xieng Mai, though the Dutch preferred Ischeen May and Tsieengh Maeij.

King Mongkut (r. 1851-1872), who wrote English well, seemed a bit uncertain in his own mind as to how he should spell the name of this town. He used the styles of Chiang May and Chiang-may as well as Zam-may.

1861 Ca-nah-ma; 1863 Changmai; 1828 Chang Mai; 1822 Chang-mai; 1865 Changmai; 1868 Cheangmai; 1866 Cheang Mai; 1873 Chengmai; 1839 Chengmie; 1884 Cheung Mai; 1822 Che-ung Mai; 1828 Che-ung Mai; c1552 Chiamai; 1691 Chiamai; c1552 Chiamai; 1750 Chia Mai; 1572 Chiamay; c1544 Chiammay; 1950 Chiangmai; 1936 ChiangMai; 1967 Chiang Mai; c1857 Chiang-mai; 1859 Chiang May; 1859 Chiang-may; 1803 Chiengma.

1890 Chienghmi; c1870 Chieng Mai; 1932 Chiengmai; 1910 Chieng-Mai; 1906 Chieng-mai; 1980 Chieng-mai; 1971 Chieng May; 1380 Chimai; 1883 Chiungmai; 1858 Chung Mai; 1937 C'ieng Mai; c1587 Iamahey; c1587 Iamayhey; c1647 Ischeen Mey; 1647 Ischeen Mey; c1615 Jagama; 1615 Jagoma; 1615 Jagomai; 1615 Jagoman; 1588 Jamahay; 1588 Jamahey; 1861 Ja-mah-ma; 1614 Jangama; c1615 Jangamay; 1640 Jangema.

1612 Jangemay; 1615 Janggamay; 1822 Jang-mai; 1615 Jangnna; 1836 Jangoma; 1553 Jangoma; c1545 Jangomaa; 1615 Jangomai; c1615 Jangoman; 1615 Jangomay; 1599 Jangomi; 1636 Jangonia; c1615 Janguma; c1544 Jangumaa; ? Jienghmai; 1636 Jiengmai; 1636 Jongoma; 1614 Kiangmai; 1860 Kiang Mai; 1615 Kiang-mai 1373 Lanna Xieng May; c1930 Sandabul; 1855 Saymmay; 1908 Schiengmai; 1791 Shiamai; c1800 Shiamai; 1752 Shia mai; 1794 Shiamay; 1794 Shia may; 1855 Shiangmai; 1918 Siang Mai; 1588 Tamahey; ? Tiongh May; ? Tjiang Mai; ? Tschieng Mai

1885 Tsching Mai; ? Tsching-mai; 1640 Tsieeengh Maeij; 1640 Tsieeng May; 1890 Tyima; 1611 Xamoi; 1611 Xhamoi; 1615 Xiengmai; c1850 Xieng Mai; 1856 Xieng mai; c1850 Xieng-mai; 1956 Xieng-mai; 1856 Xieng-mai; 1860 Xieng Me; 1860 Xiengmie; c1854 Xieng-mie, 1791 Yangoma; 1831 Zamee; 1859 Zam-may; c1614 Zangnomang; c1615 Zangomay; c1614 Zangomaye; 1801 Zemee; 1839 Zemmai; 1795 Zemme; 1822 Zimai; 1826 Zimay; 1839 Zimmay; 1871 Zimme; 1885 Zimme; c1885 Zimme; c1885 Zimmei; 1834 Zimmy; c1885 Zinme


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