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Andrew Biggs (Thai Memories): No – Maybe

Andrew Biggs

Take a look at this week’s American music charts and there are no less than three songs in the Top 20 with the “F” word in the title.

There’s a song by Cee-Lo Green about a guy who’s girlfriend ditches him, appropriately entitled “F*** You”. Meanwhile Enrique Iglesias seems to be at some Patpong establishment, hence the title “Tonight (I’m F***ing You)”.

(The follow-up could be something like “My Buffalo Is Sick (Pay the Vet Or No More F***ing Me)”.)

And finally, Pink has a song where she extols the virtues of her boyfriend, though not in such prosaic terms as I just used. “Extolling the Virtues”? Nah. Try “F***ing Perfect”.

What has happened to the music of today? There I go, sounding like my father who used to bristle when popular songs like “Stayin’ Alive” dropped the “G”. I can’t imagine how bristly my father would get over this week’s Top 20.

Clean versions of the songs I just mentioned are available in order to get played on the radio. “F*** You” has a version called “Forget You”, while Enrique sings “Tonight (I’m Loving You)” in his lame G-rated version. This is the musical equivalent of bashing someone’s knees with a baseball bat; I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had anybody come up to me in a seedy Silom nightclub and announce: “Tonight I’m lovin’ you!” It sounds like an invitation to eat at McDonald’s.

What a pity the Thai language isn’t more universal because the Thai word for “hatch” (ฟัก), as in chickens, sounds the same as that “F” word with all the asterisks. Imagine the Billboard Top 20 this week with songs such as “Hatch You”, “Tonight (I’m Hatching You)” and “Hatching Perfect”. It kinda works, doesn’t it?

I’m telling you all this because like English, Thai has a number of taboo words too. Anybody who is currently learning Thai from Noi whom you first met at Pussy Galore on Patpong will have memorized these words quicker than you can say “bar fine”. It is not my job to list them here, suffice to say Thai just like English has colorful words for things such as fornication in all its forms, especially with someone’s mother or an elephant, as well as the male and female anatomy.

Despite all these rude and disgusting words, there is one word which out-disgusts them all. It is a word that you will never hear a Thai use, simply because within the frame of Thai culture it is frowned upon, more than “hatch”, more than “tui” … even more than a sick buffalo.

That word is “No”.

There. I wrote it. Thais reading my column are going to feel uncomfortable seeing that word on paper but it’s time for the world to know. When it comes to cross-cultural peeks into the minds the Thais, nothing is more valuable than knowing a Thai is simply unable to say “no” to your face.

In Thai there is a popular phrase: ”Kid doo gorn” (คิดดูก่อน). It can be translated roughly as “Let me think about that,” and indeed I have heard it being used by Thais speaking English as “I will think about that and contact you again.”

This translation is far too literal to be of any use. I’ve seen green foreign businessmen walk away from meetings thinking things went well after a Thai used this phrase. How sadly mistaken they are … for the real meaning of ”kid doo gorn” is “no”.

For ages I believed that when I suggested something at a meeting, their ”kid doo gorn” reply was an indication my words were being keenly considered, or what I suggested was so interesting and deep the recipient needed time to consider its glorious ramifications.

In reality what follows “kid doo gorn” is a deafening silence from your business associate. The phrase means: “No, I don’t want to, but I’m too polite to say it in front of your face for fear of upsetting you. And I don’t want to be around when you find out I mean no.”

Kheu yang nee (คืออย่างนี้) is another way Thais avoid saying “no.” This phrase can be translated as “It’s like this …” and is used to extrapolate or further explain.

Again, I was a slow learner.

Kheu yang nee is actually a linguistic signpost. It means: “The following information will not sit well with you. It is contrary to how you want things to be and this is my feeble excuse why it is indeed that way.” You can see how the Thai language economizes on words nicely.

For example: “The financial report you said you’d send me yesterday still hasn’t arrived. Have you finished it?”

“Kheu yang nee …” You, dear reader, may now insert some unfortunate series of events, not unlike a Channel 7 soap opera, only there is no accompanying soundtrack of cheap muzak downloaded illegally from the net. You will instead develop a slow sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as you realize the speaker is taking his or her time to say: “No.”

You may indeed be sucked in by the “kheu yang nee” as I have on occasions. It acts as a depressant on a par with heroin; and indeed, after hearing some excuses in my time I have felt like transforming one of my six-for-100-Baht Chatuchak handkerchiefs into a tourniquet. But ultimately, if you ask a question that requires a yes-no answer but receive a “kheu yang nee”then the speaker is simply saying “no.”

A long time ago I introduced you to my former squash partner. I called him Eddie From Hell, for reasons you are about to learn. Eddie was so Thai you could literally hear somtam and kai yang as he spoke. Thus he could never bring himself to say “no”.

Instead, he used what is the most commonly-used word by Thais to evade the profane two-letter word … and no matter much I tried to box his ears, or deliberately whack the squash ball into his crotch during play, he would not stop using it.

That replacement word? “Maybe” (อาจจะ /àatjà/).

This should be in the pamphlets they hand out at Suvarnabhumi Airport. “Welcome to Thailand. Don’t do drugs, always use a condom, and ‘maybe’ means ‘no’.”

I have scoured Thai school textbooks which teach the English language and can’t find the offending text that teaches “maybe” as a way to say “no”, but nevertheless the whole country knows it and doesn’t want you to be let in on the secret.

I have been in Thailand so long now that when I have a business meeting I can gauge whether the other party is interested or not. This is not due to any amazing intelligence nor am I the latest reincarnation of Doris Stokes.

It’s just that the moment the other party utters one of these phrases … kid doo gorn, kheu yang nee, maybe … I am aware the meeting is a failure and it’s time to look at other alternatives.

Is this a bad thing? Not if you can read the signposts. While over in the West we are more direct about letting our partners know, here in Thailand they are just as direct – but in a roundabout way.

Also, the Thais are not deliberately setting out to deceive you, and this is an important point. They are trying to save you from feeling bad.

Yes, I know, ultimately a “no” is a “no” and you’re going to feel doubly bad somewhere down the line for not knowing sooner. But we should know the signposts if we are doing business here. It saves us a lot of tears, and will prevent those jaded foreigners who don’t see the signposts from sitting in Silom bars after work using profanities so common in the Billboard Top 20 to describe the Thais.

That’s my dream; for us to start understanding the ubiquitous undercurrent that flows in our private and work lives in this country, rather than just cursing those mother-hatchin’ Thais and their strange ways. With apologies to my father.

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Cat Cartoons Episode 109: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน รู้อย่างเป็ด
Narrator: Episode – ‘Roo yaang bpet’.

วิเชียรมาศ: เป็ดจะเดินไปไหนน่ะ เดินช้าจัง
Wi-chian maat: Where are the ducks going to? They’re walking so slowly.

สีสวาด: เดินไปลงน้ำน่ะสิ
Si Sawat: They’re going in the water.

วิเชียรมาศ: เป็ดคงจะว่ายน้ำเก่งนะ
Wi-chian maat: Ducks are probably fantastic swimmers, right?

สีสวาด: ไม่เก่งหรอก สู้ปลาไม่ได้
Si Sawat: No, they’re not: they can’t match fish.

วิเชียรมาศ: แต่เป็ดก็เก่งกว่าปลาเพราะเป็ดบินได้ด้วย
Wi-chian maat: But ducks have one over fish because ducks can also fly.

สีสวาด: เป็ดบินได้ไม่ไกล สู้นกไม่ได้ สู้ไก่ก็ยังไม่ได้เลย
Si Sawat: Ducks cannot fly far: they can’t match birds, they can’t even match chickens!

วิเชียรมาศ: เป็ดเนี่ยะ(นี่อ่ะ)ทำอะไรได้หลายอย่างแต่ไม่เก่งซัก(สัก)อย่างเลยนะ เวลาเดินก็เดินช้า เวลาบินก็บินได้ไม่ไกล ว่ายน้ำก็ไม่เก่งเท่าปลา
Wi-chian maat: Ducks are able to do many things but they are not great in any one of them. They walk, but slowly. They fly, but not far at all. And they can’t swim as well as fish can.

สีสวาด: นั่นน่ะสิ ทำได้หลายอย่างแต่ไม่เก่งจริงซัก(สัก)อย่าง เค้า(เขา)ถึงพูดว่า รู้อย่างเป็ด ไง
Si Sawat: That’s exactly it! They can do many things but they’re not really an expert in any one of them. And that’s why people say ‘Roo yaang bpet’.

ผู้บรรยาย: รู้อย่างเป็ด เป็นสำนวน หมายถึง ทำอะไรได้หลายอย่างแต่ไม่เก่งจริงซัก(สัก)อย่าง
Narrator: ‘Roo yaang bpet’ is a saying referring to someone who is able to do many things but is not an expert in any of them.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Download: Cat Cartoons Episode 109: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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Cat Cartoons Episode 108: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน เล่ม – ฉบับ
Narrator: Episode – ‘Laym’ – ‘Cha-bap’.

เก้าแต้ม: คุณพ่อพี่เก่งหาอะไรน่ะ
Kao Taem: What is Pee Geng’s Dad looking for?

วิเชียรมาศ: คงหาหนังสือพิมพ์ คุณพ่อพี่เก่งวางไว้บนโต๊ะ ไม่รู้ว่าใครหยิบไป
Wi-chian maat: Probably the newspaper. Pee Geng’s Dad placed it on the table and someone took it away.

เก้าแต้ม: บนโต๊ะมีหนังสือตั้งหลายเล่ม ทำไมไม่อ่านหนังสือล่ะ
Kao Taem: There are many ‘Laym’-s of books on the table. Why not read a book instead?

สีสวาด: คุณพ่อพี่เก่งอยากรู้ข่าว ก็ต้องอ่านหนังสือพิมพ์สิ
Si Sawat: Pee Geng’s Dad wants to keep up with the news so he’s got to read a newspaper.

เก้าแต้ม: พี่บ้านชั้น(ฉัน) ใครๆ ก็ชอบอ่านหนังสือพิมพ์ วันนึงๆ อ่านหนังสือพิมพ์ตั้งหลายเล่ม
Kao Taem: Pee! In my house, everybody loves reading the newspaper. In a day, they’ll read many ‘Laym’-s of newspapers.

สีสวาด: เธอพูดผิด ต้องพูดว่า หนังสือพิมพ์หลายฉบับ ไม่ใช่ หลายเล่ม
Si Sawat: You’ve said it wrongly. You should say “many ‘Cha-bap’-s of newspapers”, not “many ‘Laym’-s”.

เก้าแต้ม: แต่ชั้น(ฉัน)พูดว่าหนังสือหลายเล่ม เธอไม่เห็นทักว่าพูดผิดเลย
Kao Taem: But I said “many ‘Laym’-s of books”. I don’t see you remarking that I said it wrongly.

สีสวาด: เค้า(เขา)นับหนังสือกันเป็นเล่ม เธอพูดได้ว่า หนังสือหลายเล่ม แต่เค้า(เขา)นับหนังสือพิมพ์เป็นฉบับ เธอต้องพูดว่า หนังสือพิมพ์หลายฉบับ
Si Sawat: People count books in ‘Laym’-s so you can say “many ‘Laym’-s of books”. However people count newspapers in ‘Cha-bap’-s so you should say “many ‘Cha-bap’s of newspapers”.

ผู้บรรยาย: หนังสือ ใช้ลักษณนามว่า เล่ม หนังสือพิมพ์ ใช้ลักษณนามว่า ฉบับ
Narrator: The classifier ‘Laym’ is used for books whereas the classifier Ca-bap’ is used for newspapers.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Download: Cat Cartoons Episode 108: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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Andrew Biggs (Thai Memories): Paeng and Jeud

Andrew Biggs

When I was a child one of my favorite literary characters was Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.

Dressed in rags and barefoot, he was a 12-year-old vagabond who wandered around St Petersburg smoking cigarettes and getting into all sorts of mischief with his best friend Tom Sawyer.

I never thought I would find common ground with Huck Finn. I’m not a vagabond, and I certainly never wandered around Sunnybank as a child smoking cigarettes – there were far too many broken beer bottles strewn around to do that. But I have to say, on the eve of my departure from Australia back to Bangkok, for the first time I have felt like little Huck. I have also felt like a Thai.

For the past three weeks I’ve been in Australia and how lovely to be back home, despite home now being one of the most expensive countries on earth. A robust economy, a strong dollar coupled with skyhigh labor rates has left me in awe – and as penniless as Huck Finn.

I am not usually one to count my pennies and I must quickly add my spending habits are as bi-polar as a Sunnybank housewife from the late 1970s. Last week in Sydney I purchased a Gant shirt whose price tag would feed a family of five from Mukdahan, down for a red shirt protest in the city, for at least a month.

But my next stop was Target – glorious, glorious Target, where I can pick up a black T-shirt and boxer shorts for the price of a bus ticket to Mukdahan (oh for goodness sakes look that province up on a map – you should know where it is by now anyway). The beauty of Target is it’s cheap and it has my size – not a Robinson sales girl shaking her head and patting my stomach in sight.

While on vacation I am very adept at closing my eyes as I hand over my Visacard, breathing deeply as I pray to Buddha my card is not declined. I can always pay off the bill sometime later. That has been my attitude every time I have been back to Australia. To hell with the cost. Just enjoy yourself.

Until this trip.

Very early into this visit I made myself stop converting price tags back into Baht for fear of having to take a voyage on the good ship Prozac. Going out to dinner is another surprise, putting it mildly. Drinks and dinner at one seafood restaurant set me back $80, something I’d normally not worry about too much because (a) I’m seeing friends I don’t see that often and (b) after my third Penfold’s I’m up for anything.

But on that particular night I did feel a little put out paying 2,500 Baht for my share of dinner at the seafood restaurant not so much because of the price, but because my dear friends forgot I was allergic to seafood, thus rendering the salad I had the costliest I’d ever eaten.

I have become what I often chastise Thais about.

Thais are terrible overseas travellers. There are two very clear reasons why, and they can be summed up in the two most common words you will hear any Thai say when he or she leaves the country — paeng (แพง) and jeud (จืด).

paeng means “expensive” and I love the way they say it. It’s as if one of those Japanese nuclear reactors has exploded in their mouths.

Thais don’t just casually blurt out paeng like they might say sawat dee (สวัสดี) or kin khao (กินข้าว). Oh no. Sawat dee and kin khao are friendly Thai words that require a gorgeous Thai smile along with an amiable slight tilt of the head to the right.

paeng is a different kettle of pla tu (ปลาตู้). It takes effort, along with a general muscle spasm in your face, to say it right. When a Thai sees something that’s expensive, it’s not just an utterance. It’s an event!

I once went on a Sydney trip with Thai students as they participated in a speech competition. Accompanying us was a very friendly Thai government official, a woman whose chief duties abroad were to pile as much food onto her buffet plate as humanly possible along with complaining as to why there was never any fish sauce on the table.

On the few occasions I was medicated enough to take her shopping, her behaviour was nothing short of a constant stream of ejaculations – those of “Oo-ee!” (อู๊ย) and then the subsequent ”Paeng!” The only respite I got from that was when we chanced to pass one of those hideous “NOTHING UNDER TWO DOLLARS!” shops with stacks of koala ashtrays and kangaroo combs in the dirty windows. She nearly ejaculated herself upon seeing that. For the next hour she was lost in the aisles of that dusty cavern, her shopping basket piled high with gifts for those tortured souls back home who constituted her family.

If paeng is a linguistic favorite, then jeud comes a close second.

Back in 2002 I went on a fantastic trip to Italy, with gorgeous memories of driving down the Amalfi Coast. One of the joys of that trip was the pasta and pizza in all its variations. In Sicily I ran into three Thais on a group tour also having a great time. Upon asking about the food, they simply shook their heads and said jeud. They were existing on instant noodles from Thailand.

I had a bowl of instant noodles once; it was like pouring hot water into a bucket of MSG. I couldn’t help but wondering if the shrivelled-up powder sachets might be an inexpensive alternative to cocaine but never got round to testing out that theory.

Thais will visit the most exciting culinary capitals of the world carrying suitcases of these hideous instant noodles.

That’s because of Thais’ terrible belief that food overseas is jeud or “bland”. Well it’s their own fault, that’s all I can say. Thais have tongues that have been numbed by the three kg of chillies they consume on a daily basis. And name me another country with the variety and taste sensations as we have in the Land of Smiles. Thus the moment a Thai ventures out of the country, everything else tastes secondary. It’s like listening to Abbey Road then changing the disc to Celine Dion Live At Las Vegas.

Alas, the karmic wheel has a wicked sense of humor.

On this journey I heard myself uttering paeng and jeud on a daily basis. And indeed, at Bondi Junction in Sydney I felt adrenaline when I saw a Thai restaurant open in the early morning. As my two Aussie mates chowed down on bacon and eggs, I got a Thai omelette with pork on rice. And it filled me with a sense of elation.

By the time this is published I will be back. Huck’s back! I’m no longer the poor cousin from afar – I’m in my home territory! Mind you I have lots to show for my three weeks in Australia. I have new clothes from “abroad” as I’ll loudly explain. I have visacard bills my children shall inherit. And I have lots of koala ashtrays and kangaroo combs to dish out to friends.

All of this I managed to get through without paying excess baggage. And why should I? There was a huge space left in my suitcase after finishing off all the instant noodles.

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Cat Cartoons Episode 107: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน แมงมุม
Narrator: Episode – ‘Maeng mum’.

วิเชียรมาศ: เก้าแต้ม ทำอะไรน่ะ
Wi-chian maat: Kao Taem! What’re you doing?

เก้าแต้ม: กำลังไล่แมลงมุม
Kao Taem: I’m chasing away a ‘Ma-laeng mum’.

สีสวาด: เค้า(เขา)เรียกว่า แมงมุม ตังหาก(ตะหาก)จ้ะ ไม่ใช่ แมลงมุม
Si Sawat: On the contrary, people call it a ‘Maeng mum’ and not ‘Ma-laeng mum’.

เก้าแต้ม: แล้วมันต่างกันยังไง(อย่างไร)ล่ะ
Kao Taem: So how do they differ from each other?

สีสวาด: เห็นพี่เก่งท่องว่า แมง มีแปดหรือสิบขา ส่วน แมลง มีหกขา
Si Sawat: I’ve seen Pee Geng recite (to memorize) that ‘Maeng’ has eight or ten legs whereas ‘Ma-laeng’ has six legs.

วิเชียรมาศ: เก้าแต้ม เคยได้ยินเพลงนี้มั้ย(ไหม)
แมงมุมลายตัวนั้น
ฉันเห็นมันซมซานเหลือทน
วันหนึ่งมันถูกฝน
ไหลหล่นจากบนหลังคา
พระอาทิตย์ส่องแสง
ฝนแห้งเหือดไปลับตา
มันรีบไต่ขึ้นฟ้า
หันหลังมาทำตาลุกวาว
Wi-chian maat: Kao Taem, have you ever heard this song before?
‘Maeng mum laai dtua nan’
‘Chan hen man som-saan leua ton’
‘Wan neung man took fon’
‘Lai lon jaak bon lang-kaa’
‘Pra-aa-tit song saeng’
‘Fon haeng heuat bpai lap dtaa’
‘Man reep dtai keun faa’
‘Han lang maa tam dtaa luk waao’.

เก้าแต้ม: เหมียววว
Kao Taem: Meow!

ผู้บรรยาย: แมง มีแปดหรือสิบขา ไม่มีหนวด ไม่มีปีก เช่น แมงมุม แมงป่อง ส่วน แมลง มีหกขา มีปีก เช่น แมลงวัน แมลงปอ แต่ในภาษาพูดอาจจะมีผู้พูดว่า แมงวัน หรือ แมงปอ ก็ได้
Narrator: ‘Maeng’ has eight or ten legs and do not have antennae nor wings, for example spiders and scorpions whereas ‘Ma-laeng’ has six legs and also wings for example flies and dragonflies. In casual spoken speech however, there are people who do say ‘Maeng wan’ or ‘Maeng bpor’.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

Comments…

In English, spiders are classified as arachnids. Scorpions are myriapods while flies and dragonflies are insects.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Download: Cat Cartoons Episode 107: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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Cat Cartoons Episode 106: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน ผัดไทย
Narrator: Episode – ‘Pat Tai’.

ก้อย: พี่เก่ง จะไปไหนเหรอ(หรือ)จ๊ะ
Goi: Pee Geng, where are you going?

เก่ง: พี่จะไปซื้อผัดไทยให้คุณแม่น่ะ
Geng: I’m going to buy some ‘Pat Tai’ for Mum.

ก้อย: งั้นก้อยไปด้วยคนน้า(นะ)
Goi: In that case, I’m going with you too.

วิเชียรมาศ: ทำไมเค้า(เขา)เขียนว่า ผัดไท ล่ะ ไม่ใช่ ก๋วยเตี๋ยวของคนไทยหลอ(หรือ)
Wi-chian maat: Why do people write it as ‘Pat Tai’ and not as ‘(the) noodle of Thai people’?

สีสวาด: ใช่จ้า ก๋วยเตี๋ยวผัดไทย เป็นก๋วยเตี๋ยวที่ผัดตามแบบไทย คำว่า ไทย ต้องเขียนแบบมี ย ยักษ์ ต่อท้ายเหมือนกับคำว่าคนไทยและแมวไทยอย่างเรา
Si Sawat: That’s right. ‘Pat Tai’ noodle is noodle that is stir fried Thai style. The word ‘Tai’ must be written with a ‘Yor Yak’ at the end, the same way as in the words ‘Kon Tai’ and ‘Maew Tai’ like us.

ผู้บรรยาย: คำว่า ไทย ในคำ ผัดไทย ต้องเขียนมี ย ยักษ์ ต่อท้าย เพราะคำว่า ไทย คำนี้หมายถึงประเทศไทย สิ่งที่เป็นของคนไทย หรือสิ่งที่เกี่ยวข้องกับประเทศไทย
Narrator: The word ‘Tai’ in the word ‘Pat Tai’ must be written with a ‘Yor Yak’ at the back because the word ‘Tai’ here means the country Thailand, something belonging to the Thai people or something related to Thailand.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Download: Cat Cartoons Episode 106: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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Cat Cartoons Episode 105: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน ธนบัตร
Narrator: Episode – ‘Ta-na-bat’.

เก้าแต้ม: กระดาษอะไรปลิวมาน่ะสีสวาด
Kao Taem: Si Sawat, what is this piece of paper that has blown over here?

สีสวาด: ใครว่ากระดาษ นี่มันธนบัตรตังหาก(ตะหาก)
Si Sawat: Who says that it is paper? On the contrary, this is a ‘Ta-na-bat’.

เก้าแต้ม: ธนบัตร ฮึ มันคืออะไรอ่ะ
Kao Taem: A ‘ta-na-bat’? Hmmmm. What is it?

วิเชียรมาศ: ธนบัตร หมายถึง บัตรที่รัฐบาลเป็นผู้ทำขึ้นเพื่อให้ใช้เป็นเงินตรา คำๆ นี้เขียน ธ ธง น หนู บ ใบไม้ ไม้หันอากาศ ต เต่า แล้วก็ ร เรือ จ้ะ
Wi-chian maat: ‘Ta-na-bat’-s mean ‘Bat’-s that are issued by the government to be used as money. This word is written ‘Thor thong’, ‘Nor noo’, ‘Bor bai-mai’, ‘Mai han-aa-gat’, ‘Dtor dtao’ and followed by ‘Ror Reua’.

เก้าแต้ม: แต่ชั้น(ฉัน)เคยได้ยินคนเค้า(เขา)เรียกว่า แบงก์ นะ
Kao Taem: But I’ve heard people call it a ‘Baeng’ before, you know?!

สีสวาด: เรียกว่า ธนบัตร หรือ แบงก์ ก็ได้ ถ้าเป็นภาษาทางการเรียกว่า ธนบัตร แต่ถ้าเป็นภาษาพูดเรียกว่า แบงก์ เช่น แบงก์ยี่สิบ แบงก์ร้อย
Si Sawat: It can be called ‘Ta-na-bat’ or ‘Baeng’. In formal language, it’s called ‘Ta-na-bat’ however in colloquial language it’s called ‘Baeng’, for example a ‘Twenty Baht Baeng’ or a ‘One Hundred Baht Baeng’.

เก้าแต้ม: งั้น เลา(เรา)เอาเงินหรือธนบัตรที่เก็บได้ไปซื้อปลากินกันดีกว่า
Kao Taem: In that case, let’s take the money or ‘Ta-na-bat’ that we’ve just picked up and go buy some fish to eat.

ผู้บรรยาย: ธนบัตร หมายถึง เงินที่เป็นกระดาษมีค่า หรือราคาแตกต่างกัน ใช้ชำระหนี้ได้ตามกฎหมาย
Narrator: A ‘Ta-na-bat’ means paper money with different value or denominations which can be used to legally settle debts.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

Comments…

A ‘Ta-na-bat’ (ธนบัตร) is basically the formal word for a banknote.

A ‘Baeng’ (แบงก์) is basically the informal / colloquial word for a banknote. It is an English loanword however instead of borrowing the entire word ‘banknote’, only the first part of the word is borrowed, i.e. ‘bank’.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Download: Cat Cartoons Episode 105: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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Cat Cartoons Episode 104: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน รังนก
Narrator: Episode – ‘Rang nok’.

เก้าแต้ม: พี่เก่งกับพี่ก้อยเค้า(เขา)กินขนมอะไล(ไร)กันน่ะ
Kao Taem: What candy is Pee Geng and Pee Goi eating?

สีสวาด: กินขนมรังนกจ้ะ
Si Sawat: They’re eating ‘Ka-nom rang nok’.

วิเชียรมาศ: เอ๊ะ รังนก ชั้น(ฉัน)เคยเห็นแบบเป็นขวด แต่ที่พี่เก่งกับพี่ก้อยกินทำไมเป็นเส้นๆ หรือว่าเอารังนกมาจริงๆ มาทำขนม
Wi-chian maat: Whaat?? ‘Rang nok’? I’ve only ever seen it in bottled form but why is the thing that Pee Geng and Pee Goi are eating, in the form of strips? Or was an actual ‘Rang nok’ used to make the candy?

สีสวาด: อ๋อ รังนกที่เป็นขวด เค้า(เขา)เอามาจากน้ำลายของนกนางแอ่นเอามาต้มใส่น้ำตาล ส่วนขนมรังนกเป็นขนมที่ใช้มันเทศหรือเผือกหั่นเป็นเส้นฝอยๆ ทอดสุกคลุกกับน้ำตาลเคี่ยวจัดเป็นกองๆ ดูแล้วคล้ายรังนกจริงๆ จ้ะ
Si Sawat: Ah! The ‘Rang nok’ that is in bottled form is made from boiling the saliva of swiftlets, with sugar added in whereas ‘Ka-nom rang nok’ is a candy made by cutting sweet potato or taro into thin strips, deep frying them in stacks, in hot boiling oil, with sugar mixed in. They really do look like actual ‘Rang nok’-s.

ผู้บรรยาย: รังนก เป็นสิ่งที่นกทำขึ้นเพื่ออยู่อาศัยหรือฟักไข่ เป็นของกินที่เชื่อว่าเป็นของบำรุงร่างกาย และเป็นชื่อขนมชนิดหนึ่งรูปร่างคล้ายกับรังนกที่อยู่บนต้นไม้
Narrator: A ‘Rang nok’ is something that birds build to live or for laying eggs in, is something that you eat which is believed to have health benefits and is the name of a type of candy with an appearance resembling the ‘Rang nok’-s found in trees.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

Comments…

‘Rang’ (รัง) basically means ‘(a) nest’ and ‘Nok’ (นก) means ‘(a) bird’. So ‘Rang nok’ (รังนก) literally means ‘(a) bird’s nest’.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Download: Cat Cartoons Episode 104: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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Andrew Biggs (Thai Memories): Deluxe

Andrew Biggs

Does this happen to you, too?

In Thailand, do you suddenly find yourself in situations where you think – why? Why is this happening to me?

I just ordered a pizza. Actually it was three, and no, it’s not because I’m prepping for that new Thai TV show that started last night called, of all things, “Dance Your Fat Off.”

(Haven’t seen it yet but loved the pre-publicity: “Fat people take to dancing to lose weight. Each week, the person who’s lost the least amount of weight gets booted off.” Looks to me like the bastard, sadly-deformed-at-birth child of “Dancing With The Stars” and “The Biggest Loser.” Expect a column out of it when I do get to see it.)

No, I had my staff over for our annual beginning-of-the-year meeting. I called it our “2013 Vision” meeting, or “Wi-chun” meeting as my graphic artist kept calling it, which is ironic since his name is “Wi-chien”.

Anyway in my generosity I ordered pizza for lunch on the strict proviso all my staff obeyed my every command for the rest of the year.

Ordering a pizza over the phone is something I haven’t done in ages. This is the conversation that took place in the Thai language.

“Hello Khun Suthon, may I take your order?” the sweet voice answered and enquired.

“I’m not Suthon,” I said.

“You’re not Khun Suthon … hmmmm. According to our records, this cellphone number belongs to Khun Suthon.”

Oh my goodness. I remembered.

Some years ago, the very first time I ordered a pizza in this country, I was required to give all my personal details.

The memory is hazy, but I do recall being on the phone for the time it would take to deliver a pizza to Pattaya, answering all manner of personal details such as my marital status, age, weight, favored position, income and body type.

In that way, I was told, every time I called after that my order would be processed far more conveniently. It had nothing to do with the pizza company’s ability to sell that information to some evil telemarketing company. Of course not. In my ignorance I relented.

That day I wasn’t only wallowing in ignorance. My memory was hazy because I was also wallowing in the effects of one too many Absolut Vanilla screwdrivers so I gave a fake name. Suthon Jaidee.

Ah, the hilarious things we do while under the influence.

“Wait!” I replied. “I remember now. I am Suthon. That’s me. Khun Suthon.”

Silence.

“No, really, I am,” I said quickly changing the subject. “And I want to order three pizzas.”

“Which toppings would you like, Khun Suthon?” she asked in a tone of voice suggesting she didn’t believe in ghosts or UFOs.

“One ham and pineapple, one spicy chicken, and one deluxe.”

“One ham and pineapple, one spicy chicken, and one de-look” (เดอลุกซ์).

“No,” I said. “Not de-look.”

It was at that moment I could feel myself saddling up my high horse. Funny how that equestrian always rears its ugly head in such situations.

“De-LUX.” I added. “It’s de-LUX. Like the soap.”

“So … you want to cancel the de-look?”

Now I was in trouble.

“No! No. I don’t want to cancel it.”

“You said ‘no de-look’.”

“No I didn’t.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t understand you, Khun Suthon. You want three pizzas, and the last one is a de-look.”

“The last one is a deluxe,” I replied. “We don’t call it a de-look. You Thais made that pronunciation up yourself.”

“Oh … you are not a Thai, Khun Suthon?”

Man, was I digging myself a hole.

“Well no, but my name is Thai. I, er, grew up overseas. I’m a displaced orphan from the Vietnam war era.”

Silence.

“That was a joke,” I said.

“Repeating your order: one ham and pineapple, one spicy chicken, and one de-look.”

She paused.

“Correct?” she asked, saying it as if she was plunging a spear into my chest.

Correct? Correct? How could I say yes to that, dear reader? I’m a linguist, dammit … how can I say that the word “deluxe”, when pronounced de-look, is correct?

There was something definitely evil, almost dominatrix-like, going on here. That pizza operator was playing head games with me, I know. (And of course, by using the name Suthon, I wasn’t playing head games with her, was I?).

I have asked this question before in this column but I will ask it again — Why is it that perfectly good English words get ripped to shreds when pronounced in Thai, especially on days when I haven’t had a good night’s sleep?

I can handle the omission of that final “s” because the Thai language doesn’t have such words. But why do we change a perfectly good vowel sound like “u” as in “but” or “cut” into the more flimsy pathetic “oo” sound of “look” or “cook”?

Isn’t it funny how we all have our pet peeves? I can’t stand any shop assistant who announces: “No have.” My friend Stuart nearly pees his pants if somebody says “Same same.”

Meanwhile Eilat has Siamese kittens when she hears “I no like,” and Craig goes ape-fecal over the pronunciation of “buffet” as “boof-fay” (บุฟเฟ่ต์).

And me? I’m a “de-look” kinda guy.

“Can I just say something here?” I said by way of answering this clearly manipulative, but clever, pizza operator.

“I just want to say that in English, it’s pronounced de-LUX, not de-look as you say it. Remember that. And tell your friends.”

“But we’re not speaking English, Khun Suthon.”

Oh my god.

She got me.

She’s right.

The word “deluxe” has its origins in French, meaning “of luxury”. And, of course, the French pronounce it similar to the way the Thais do, only a little more condescendingly.

Since when has it been stated that when speaking Thai, all foreign words must be pronounced as they are in English?

Was I just smarting because the Thais have favored the French over the English pronunciation?

I have nothing against the French, though they clearly have something against the British. When last in Paris the most valuable sentence I learned was “Je suis un Australien” so they would at least be nice to me – despite, at that time, Australia’s very vocal damning of French nuclear testing in the Pacific.

There are all sorts of words used in Thai that take the French pronunciation. Little nibblies are or-derf (ออเดิฟ), coffee is gar-fair (กาแฟ) and the word for France itself is farang-set (ฝรั่งเศส) which sounds to me like it comes from the French way of saying France with an emphasis on the last sound.

None of these bother me. So why be bothered with de-look? Or boo-fay for that matter, Craig?

Face it, Andrew. You just lost a linguistic battle to a pizza operator.

“Yes all right,” I said, feeling sick. “The … de-look … pizza.”

Kha” (ค่ะ), she answered. I could hear her troops’ hoots of victory from the front line as she spoke.

Two days later I was checking into a hotel in Suphan Buri to give a speech. As the bell boy carried my bag to the room, I was told: “You have been upgraded. To a hong soot” (ห้องชุด).

Oh god.

That’s another one.

A suite is a soot (ชุด) in Thai, rhyming with “suit”, another bastardization that gets my goat.

We can’t even blame the French for that one – where did that one come from? And why does that immediately incur my wrath?

“Air conditioning is here, and the light switch is over there,” the friendly hotel staffer told me once inside the room. “Would you like to order room service?”

“Certainly not a pizza,” I said.

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Cat Cartoons Episode 103: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน หมอ
Narrator: Episode – ‘Mor’.

เก้าแต้ม: เมื่อกี้เห็นคุณพ่อขับรถพาพี่เก่งออกจากบ้าน เย็นแล้วไม่รู้ไปไหนกันเนาะ
Kao Taem: Just now I saw Dad taking Pee Geng out somewhere by car. It’s already evening, I have no idea where they went.

สีสวาด: พี่เก่งเค้า(เขา)ปวดฟันน่ะ คุณพ่อก็เลยพาไปหาหมอฟัน
Si Sawat: Pee Geng has a toothache, so Dad took him to the ‘Mor fan’

เก้าแต้ม: หมอฟันเนี่ยะ(นี่อ่ะ) เค้า(เขา)รักษาฟันใช่ม้า(ไหม)
Kao Taem: This ‘Mor fan’ person, he provides treatment for teeth, right?

สีสวาด: ก็ใช่นะซิ(สิ)
Si Sawat: That’s right!

เก้าแต้ม: ถ้าหยั่งงั้น(อย่างนั้น) หมอผีที่เห็นในทีวี(โทรทัศน์)ก็ต้องมีหน้าที่รักษาผีอ่ะสินะ
Kao Taem: If that’s the case, the job of a ‘Mor pee’, the one you would see on TV (television), must be to provide treatment for ‘Pee’-s. Right?

สีสวาด: ผีที่ไหนจะป่วยจนต้องรักษา คำว่า หมอ น่ะ นอกจากจะหมายถึง ผู้ตรวจรักษาโรค เช่น หมอฟัน หมอเด็กแล้ว ยังหมายถึง ผู้รู้ ผู้ชำนาญด้วย อย่าง หมอผี น่ะ ก็หมายถึง ผู้ที่เชื่อกันว่ามีอำนาจเลี้ยง ควบคุม ใช้งาน และปราบผีได้จ้ะ ไม่ใช่หมอรักษาผี
Si Sawat: There are no ‘Pee’-s that will fall sick and require treatment! The word ‘Mor’ does not only mean ‘(a) person who treats diseases’, for example ‘Mor fan’ and ‘Mor dek’. It can also mean ‘(a) person who knows a lot about a particular thing or an expert’, for example ‘Mor pee’, which means a person who is believed to possess the power to keep, control, exploit and exorcize ‘Pee’-s, and not a ‘Mor’ who treats ‘Pee’-s.

เก้าแต้ม: อ๋อ หยังงี้(อย่างนี้)นี่เอง เหมียว
Kao Taem: Aah! I see! Meow!

ผู้บรรยาย: หมอ นอกจากจะหมายถึง ผู้ตรวจรักษาโรค เช่น หมอฟัน หมอเด็กแล้ว ยังหมายถึง ผู้รู้ ผู้ชำนาญ เช่น หมองู หมอนวด หมอผี
Narrator: ‘Mor’ not only means a person who treats diseases, for example ‘Mor fan’ and ‘Mor dek’, it also means a guru or an expert, for example ‘Mor ngoo’, ‘Mor nuat’ and ‘Mor pee’.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

Comments…

‘Mor’ (หมอ) is a semi-formal word, meaning ‘(a) doctor’. ‘Mor fan’ (หมอฟัน) basically means ‘(a) dentist’ (literally a ‘teeth doctor’). ‘Mor dek’ (หมอเด็ก) basically means ‘(a) pediatrician’ (literally a ‘children doctor’).

‘Pee’ (ผี) basically means ‘(a) spirit or ghost’ however ‘Mor pee’ means ‘(a) shaman’. ‘Mor ngoo’ (หมองู) basically means ‘(a) snake charmer’. ‘Mor nuat’ means ‘(a) masseuse’.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Download: Cat Cartoons Episode 103: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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