I mentioned in the 'politeness' post the other day that I have been coaching a friend who is getting his Thai citizenship, so that he can get through the Interview process in Thai. Another part of getting Thai citizenship is having to assume your new Thai identity under a new 'Thai' name and surname.
The act of 'creating' or 'giving' a new name or surname is
Create / Set / Make / Bestow a Name
tâng naam sa-gun
Create / Set / Make / Bestow a Surname
Notice the word 'ตั้ง tâng' here -
This word has a lot of utilities. Many people might know it as to 'be set upright' or to 'set something upright'.
It's very visual - so in this sense, when you're talking about ตั้งชื่อ or ตั้งนามสกุล, think of building a name up and 'setting it in place' (over the person who it's being done for).
ชื่อมงคล chʉ̂ʉ mong-kon Auspicious Names
It has taken an especially long time to ตั้งนามสกุล tâng naam sa-gun because of a couple of reasons. Firstly, almost nobody in Thailand gets a new name without consulting a monk / fortune teller first. This particular person is very anti anything 'woo woo' and so it was difficult to get some Thais on board as they didn't want to be responsible for any bad luck that might result an inauspicious name. Usually you'll look at the birth date, time, day name and gender to calculate an auspicious name using numerology. There are a lot of sites up that will help you calculate one - just google :
... and you'll find a plethora of sites that will help you calculate the luckiest name for you - many will help lighten your wallet too all in the comfort of your own laptop.
No Two Surnames Alike
The more practical reason why it has taken a while is that as many may already know, no two family bloodlines can have the same surname. Surnames are intellectual property - that started after the Sakdi Na system was abolished.
One tool that has become invaluable during this process is the government's database of Surnames - where you can check to see if the surname you ตั้ง already exists or not.
The interesting thing here is that not only are you not allowed to have a surname that is the same as another family's, but the phonetics of that surname - in Thai phonetics is not allowed to match the phonetics of any other Thai surname.
Thai Government Database to Check if a Surname Exists
If you click on the link here, you'll see two text boxes on the form.
garunaa ra-bù chʉ̂ʉ sà-gun
Please enter (the) surname
garunaa ra-bù kham àan
Please enter the phonetics (way it is read)
That means that if you entered
จันทร์โอชา (Chan-o-cha - Prayuth's surname)
You would also have to type it in phonetics like this
On a practical level, the fact that phonetics had to be entered in too meant that we had to scrap about 40% of the last names we came up with, as while they were spelt differently, due to the fact that Sanskrit equivalent letters have been reduced to a handful of sounds in Thai, many different meanings end up sounding the same.
I'm happy to say that we finally came up with a meaningful surname without consulting a Monk as per his request - Now let's see if it's lucky.