Converter's Introduction

Some time around 1999 I was wandering around the library at the University of Surrey contemplating why there weren't more books relevant to the research I was doing. It struck me that perhaps they might have some interesting Thai language books, such as a handy reference dictionary.

Wandering over to a terminal to search for any Thai related volumes I discovered the Fundamentals of the Thai Language which I went on to borrow for almost 2 years on repeated renewal. "FunThai" is an excellent reference book; so much that some Thai teachers refer to it as the black book. It is certainly the best Thai language book that I have ever read, although perhaps it is beginning to show it's age now.

Around 2002, FunThai was released onto the web and readers were encouraged to download it. I downloaded it using wget for offline reading during a business trip. Shortly afterwards the FunThai website went offline. When I came to check, it seemed I downloaded a small part of the website. Just recently I discovered I had actually managed to get the whole thing because one of the files was a zip file containing all the pages.

The original HTML was a conversion from a Windows help file and had a lot of unnecessary formatting as a result. The pages were dependent on a special font. Unfortunately there were 341 files to deal with - quite a lot of editing would have been required. Therefore I decided to reformat it using a PERL conversion script.

The book is here: Fundamentals of the Thai Language

Changes

The conversion script makes the following changes:

  1. Removed distracting background graphics.
  2. Changed all long vowel roman characters to render using CSS, otherwise they are completely wrong without a specific font.
  3. Removed all alignment <div> tags.
  4. Replaced Unicode char #3584 with spaces - I don't know what this character was used for.
  5. Removed all <font> formatting, mostly used to switch fonts for unusual characters (see point 2)
  6. Modifed <table> tags to be more tidy.
  7. Modified navigation links to reduce size on page.

Most of these changes are due to the special fonts expected by the original conversion and redundant characters introduced into it. I haven't needed to change the underlying content. For many files, the size is reduced by as much as half.

I also corrected a couple of spelling mistakes I found in the dictionaries in the appendix.

This is the Fifth edition; the original authors remarked that the 6th edition was considered a "disaster". I hope this version meets with the approval of the authors.

Lyndon Hill, 15th July 2006