Thai people have a wonderful culture with much to be proud of. They also have (at least to an English speaker with a puerile sense of humour) the funniest language in all of Asia. In spoken form, it doesn't actually sound all that funny, but when Thai names and words are transcribed into Roman script, it's hard not to crack a smile. I mean, who hasn't read the menu at a Thai restaurant and shared a giggle at dishes such as gang dang and phat prik?
And of course there are place names such as Bang Sue, Baan Sukchoke, Dong Rak and Ban Pornpis. If you don't find those things even a teeny bit funny, you are way too mature for this blog post.
Bear in mind that because Thais have their own alphabet, there is no standard way of spelling Thai words and names in Roman script, so you will have many variations - pad thai can also be written as phat thai, for example.
Of course, a lot of the humour to be derived from Thai names comes from how you think they would or could be pronounced, rather than how they actually sound in real life. Thus names like Pachrapa or Chumphorn can be funny when you read them but not especially so when you hear them said by a Thai.
Other names, like Poonlarp, might require a little bit of cultural and/or pop cultural knowledge to get why they are funny - larp (or laap, or larb) is a kind of salad made from ground meat, so larp made from poon is an interesting concept.
Certain sounds that frequently turn up in Thai names are innately amusing, at least to my infantile mind. One is "-sak", which corresponds nicely to the English word "sack" meaning both a bag to carry things in, and a scrotum. Thus you have names like Choosak, Damrongsak, and my personal favourite of all Thai names, Terdsak. All of which can conjure up some nice mental images.
The other one of course, is "-porn", which is sometimes written as the less amusing "-pon". Which gives rise to names like Jesdaporn and Pornthip. Sometimes there is a convergence of rude-sounding words such as Pornsak. The best of all, however, is undoubtedly Supaporn. You really can't get better than that.
Of course, plenty of Thai names are just awesome without being naughty-sounding. There's something about the name of (politician) Somkid Jatusripitak which I just love. While names like Lada Engchawadechasilp (a former Miss World contestant) or Kejmanee Pichaironnarongsongkram (actress and singer)are admirable just for being so damned difficult to pronounce without considerable practice.
But lest you think I'm singling out Thai names, you can find examples of this sort of thing in pretty much every language and country. India, for example, has wonderful names like Jayant Bhatt, Deepa Dikshit, and Priti Kanthi. And it should be pointed out that while Thai names can seem funny to the English speaker, English names can be just as funny to Thais, depending on how they are pronounced (Thai is a tonal language, so there can be various ways of pronouncing a word). For example, according to this article at least, the name "Jim" sounds a lot like Thai slang for "vagina", while "Johnson" sounds like the term for "small penis".
Got some more names to share? I'd love to hear them.
See also: Interesting Asian restaurant names