Indic name mistransliteration in Thai version of Harry Potter
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Indic name mistransliteration in Thai version of Harry Potter

I read Harry Potter as a kid, and I couldn't shake the feeling that one character's name is a bit off. I couldn't quite pinpoint exactly why. Turns out, my hunch was right – the Thai translator used the wrong transliteration.

In Thai, "Parvati Patil" is "ปาราวตี พาติล." This doesn't even match the English transliteration (from Indic), as seen by a completely messed up second syllable on the first name. Because Thai language has a lot of influences from Indic, we also have our own system of transliterating Indic to Thai. Using this system, the correct transliteration for "Parvati" is "ปารวตี" (the second a is a schwa). As for the last name "Patil," it's "ปาฏีล."

Romanization Devanagari Thai (wrong) Thai (correct)
Parvati पार्वती ปาราวตี ปารวตี
Patil पाटील พาติล ปาฏีล

Notice that the first character from the first name in Devanagari are the same, which means the Thai transliteration is wrong (ป in first name and พ in last name).

What a far cry from the kosher transliteration. But how could you blame the Thai translator? She specializes in English after all, not Indic. To me, she tried her best to get around transliterating a name she isn't even familiar with, let alone know of an existing system to transliterate it.