What Happens If You Are Far-Sighted in Thailand?

The first sign of middle age has hit home with my wife: she can no longer read small print up close and has to resort to the “reach,” where she extends her arm as far as she can to read books.

That same fate probably soon awaits me as well, which makes me glad I am not Thai. I’ve never really noticed what Thai writing looks like in print, but the Thai-language version of Freakonomics just hit the shelves, and the publisher just sent me a complimentary copy. Flipping open the book, I could not believe how intricate and tiny all the lettering is. I couldn’t find a way to replicate a passage from the book in Thai, but I think this blog post in Thai about Freakonomics will start to make my point.

Is there any other written language in the world that punishes someone who has trouble seeing up close that’s worse than Thai?


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  1. Khun T says:


    Lol, grand dady complain, ah. Don’t you know there’s something call Magnifier.

    I have not yet read Freakonomics in Thai yet. So not quite sure what the typeface and font size that the printed use. Normally, book in Thailand will use font size about 12-14 points. Which roughly about same size as English at 10-12 points. But in Thai, we have maximum of 4 level of alphabet in one line, where as, in English there is only one. For example, your book name in Thai; Freakonomics = เศรษฐพิลึก This Thai name has 3 levels in one line.

    Another thing is in Thai we probably has less white space than in English, because we write the whole sentense in one continuous line. No space between each word.

    Well, I think I will check out you Thai book and see how it is.

    Khun T

    PS. Your book is awesome, also your posts here.

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  2. Liz says:

    And Thai, believe it or not, is a simplified (simplified?!) version of the Khmer script used in Cambodia.

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  3. Rehan says:

    It’s probably not as bad as it looks – when you read English, you don’t look at each line in detail, or even each letter or each word. You look at the whole phrase or sentence at once.

    I’m sure that there’s lots of context that helps them decipher these characters when they’re blurred.

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  4. Caliphilosopher says:

    If you can’t read Thai, then yes, there might not be anything worse (considering you can read in every other language).

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  5. freakintaco says:

    Yea the biggest problem is the arbitrary scripts used in marketing in Thailand. For example the raw ruea (boat) character would look like an S and the P sound shows up as the letter W. Sort of like having to relearn the alphabet all over again. I mean I have enough trouble recognizing the old royal or Sanskrit characters used in names and certain locations. Bah the saddest thing is that I’m a Thai national relearning my own language.

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  6. Dilip Andrade says:

    Hindi might be as bad. But thankfully the characters in each word are joined so you can very easily determine where a word starts and stops.

    Having said that, I keep being reassured by people who grew up reading Hindi that it isn’t as bad as I make it out to be.

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  7. jonathan says:

    Chinese – traditional or simplified – is very intricate and has the extra difference of not having an alphabet so you need to recognize the characters which are the words. It’s much easier, of course, if you grew up reading Mandarin.

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  8. Pranav Backliwal says:

    Arabic’s pretty intricate, here’s this comment translated:

    العربية معقدة جدا ، وهنا ترجمة هذا التعليق

    And you’d have to read this from right to left.

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