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Cat Cartoons Episode Seventy One: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

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

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอนแกงบวด – บวชชี
Narrator: Episode – ‘Gaeng buat’ – ‘Buat chee’.

ก้อย: ดีจัง วันนี้มีแกงบวดด้วย อยากกินมานานแล้ว
Goi: Great! Today we’ve got ‘Gaeng buat’. I’ve been wanting to eat it for a long time now.

เก่ง: มีกล้วยบวชชีของโปรดของพี่ด้วย
Geng: There’s also ‘Gluay buat chee’, my favorite.

วิเชียรมาศ: กล้วยบวชชี แล้วแกงบวชพระด้วยรึเปล่า
Wi-chian maat: ‘Gluay buat chee’, so there’s a ‘Gaeng buat pra’ as well, right?

สีสวาด: แกงไม่ได้บวชหรอก แต่ บวด คำนี้ใช้ ด เด็ก สะกดจ้ะ
Si Sawat: The ‘Gaeng’ here does not ‘Buat’ (enter monkhood / nunhood), OK?! The word ‘Buat’ here is spelled with a ‘Dor dek’ as the final consonant.

วิเชียรมาศ: แกงบวด กับ บวชชี ต่างกันยังไง(อย่างไร)ล่ะ
Wi-chian maat: How does ‘Gaeng buat’ differ from ‘Buat chee’?

สีสวาด: แกงบวด บวด สะกดด้วย ด เด็ก ใช้เผือก มัน หรือฟักทอง ต้มกับกะทิและน้ำตาลปี๊บ ส่วน บวชชี คำว่า บวช สะกดด้วย ช ช้าง ทำด้วยกล้วยต้มกับกะทิและน้ำตาลทราย มีสีขาวเหมือนเครื่องนุ่งห่มของแม่ชี
Si Sawat: ‘Gaeng buat’, the ‘Buat’ here is spelled with a ‘Dor dek’ as the final consonant, is made by boiling taros, yams or pumpkins in coconut milk and palm sugar. As for ‘Buat chee’, the word ‘Buat’ here is spelled with a ‘Chor Chaang’ as the final consonant, is made by boiling bananas in coconut milk and cane sugar. It’s white in color, the same color as the robes worn by ‘Mae chee’-s.

วิเชียรมาศ: น่าอร่อยนะ แล้วแมวอย่างเราจะได้กินด้วยมั้ย(ไหม)เนี่ย
Wi-chian maat: They look so yummy! So will cats like us be able to eat them?

ผู้บรรยาย: แกงบวด สะกดด้วย ด เด็ก หมายถึงของหวานที่ใช้เผือก มัน หรือฟักทอง ต้มกับกะทิและน้ำตาลปี๊บ ส่วน บวชชี สะกดด้วย ช ช้าง หมายถึง ชื่อของหวานทำด้วยกล้วยต้ม กับกะทิ และน้ำตาล
Narrator: ‘Gaeng buat’, spelled with a ‘Dor dek’ as the final consonant, means a dessert made by boiling taros, yams or pumpkins in coconut milk and palm sugar. As for ‘Buat chee’, spelled with a ‘Chor Chaang’ as the final consonant: it means a dessert made by boiling bananas in coconut milk and cane sugar.

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…

‘Mae chee’-s (แม่ชี) are Buddhist laywomen in Thailand who have dedicated their life to religion, vowing celibacy, living an ascetic life and holding eight or even ten precepts (instead of lay Buddhists’ five) (Source: wiki: Maechi). They are basically Thai nuns.

So ‘Buat chee’ (บวชชี) or ‘Gluay buat chee’ (กล้วยบวชชี) are literally ‘bananas that have entered Thai nunhood or become Thai nuns’.

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 Seventy One: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

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

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Mind Your Language: Two Week Intensive Thai Course in Pakchong (Khao Yai National Park)

Mind Your Language

Mind Your Language’s Two Week Intensive Thai Course promises to be quite the adventure.

Along with learning Thai using their T.M.C. Teaching Method you’ll visit Khao Yai National Park (Pakchong), experience Thailand’s Thai cowboys (Chokchai Farm) and do a bit of wine tasting at Granmonte Vineyard and Winery. And if all pans out, included will be shopping at the Kingdom of the Pottery (Ban Dankwian) and a Thai Premier League game at Korat Stadium.

The T.M.C. Teaching Method is comprised of:
T – Transformation method: Reversing sentence structure.
M – Muscle memory method: Repetition leads to accuracy.
C – Combination method: Creating meaningful paragraphs.

The method sounds fairly straightforward to me but if you are interested in hearing more about it check out reviews from their regular intensive Thai course on Koh Samui (it uses the same teaching method): Reviews.

The intensive Thai beginners course in Pakchong will be held from the 3th to the 14th of July, 2017.

Excluding accommodation, the price for the two week beginners course at both Koh Samui and Pakchong is 14,900 Baht. On Samui you can arrange your own accommodation or leave it up to the school; Pakchong will have a package deal (accommodation and excursions – to be announced later). On Koh Samui I found it’s roughly 9000 baht for 12 days on the island but that’s without the school’s discount (and how much you want to slum it).

If you are interested in attending the intensive course at Koh Samui instead, you have more options as far as dates go. But the main difference between the two intensive courses (Koh Samui and Pakchong) is that on the island, classroom studies are the main focus and the activities are secondary (and up to you). On Koh Samui, after class is over for the day you can choose from: cooking classes, diving, kite surfing, massages & spa, yoga, safari tours, golf, frisbee golf, fishing, paddle-boarding, night markets, waterfalls, beaches, etc.

On top of Thai, on Koh Samui there’s also an Italian intensive course:

Thai, English and Italian are taught following the same teaching styles (T.M.C. teaching methods). Regular courses run throughout the year (2 or 4 times a week).  Intensive courses for both English and Italian will start from April (Easter Time) and a holiday-study package for students coming from abroad will be offered for people who want to study in the summer time (June, July, August).

Mind Your Language has just been affiliated to Societa’ Dante Alighieri Italia, which is the headquarter and main learning centre of Italian as a second language in Italy. From January 2017 we are the only PLIDA (Progetto Lingua Italiana Dante Alighieri) Certification Centre in Thailand and the official centre where students can take the PLIDA exams and get an international diploma that assesses their level of Italian as a Second Language (From A1 to C2) . Facebook: PLIDA Thailand.

If you have any questions please leave comments below or contact the school via their Facebook page or website:

Website: Mind Your Language, Thailand
Facebook: Mind Your Language School

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Cat Cartoons Episode Seventy: 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 การใช้ไม้ยมก
Narrator: Episode – Using ‘Maai ya-mok’.

เก้าแต้ม: ท้องฟ้าสีฟ้า ๆ
ทุ่งนาสีเขียว ๆ
ลูกงูตัวเรียว ๆ
นกเหลียวมามอง ๆ
ไก่ร้องกระต๊าก ๆ
ตัวนากแอบจ้อง ๆ
ดินทรายเป็นกอง ๆ
เดินย่อง ๆ คอยระวัง
Kao Taem: ‘Tong faa see faa faa’
‘Tung naa see kieow kieow’
‘Look ngoo dtua rieow rieow’
‘Nok lieow maa mong mong’
‘Gai rong gra-dtaak gra-dtaak’
‘Dtua naak aep jong jong’
‘Din saai bpen gong gong’
‘Dern yong yong, koi ra-wang’

วิเชียรมาศ: ท่องอะไรของเธอฟ้า ๆ เขียว ๆ จะหลับเลยหลับไม่ลงเลย
Wi-chian maat: What are you reciting? I can’t fall asleep with all this ‘Faa faa’ and ‘Kieow kieow’.

เก้าแต้ม: ไม่รู้เหมือนกัน วันก่อนเดินผ่านโรงเรียนได้ยินเด็ก ๆ เค้า(เขา)ท่องกัน เลยจำมาบ้าง
Kao Taem: I too have no idea what it is. The other day I was walking past a school and I heard the kids reciting it, so I memorized it.

สีสวาด: ก็ฟังเพลินดีนะ อะไรนะ ฟ้า ๆ เขียว ๆ เรียว ๆ มอง ๆ
Si Sawat: It can be engrossing to listen to: ‘Faa faa’, ‘Kieow kieow’, ‘Riaw riaw’, ‘Mong mong’.

วิเชียรมาศ: ทำไมต้องพูดซ้ำ ๆ กันด้วยล่ะ
Wi-chian maat: Why must everything be repeated?

สีสวาด: รู้มั้ย(ไหม)ว่าพอพูดซ้ำ ๆ แล้วความหมายมันต่างออกไป เวลาเขียนไม่ต้องเขียนซ้ำ ใช้ ไม้ยมก(ๆ) แทน
Si Sawat: Do you know that when you repeat something then its meaning changes? When you’re writing it down, there’s no need to write it twice: just use a ‘Maai ya-mok’ instead.

ผู้บรรยาย: ไม้ยมก ใช้แทนคำซ้ำ เมื่อเติมไม้ยมกเข้าไปท้ายคำ ความหมายอาจเปลี่ยนไป
Narrator: A ‘Maai ya-mok’ is used in place of a word to be written again. When a ‘Maai ya-mok’ is added at the end of a word, its meaning may change.

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 linguistics, the process in which a word is repeated, is called ‘reduplication’

Reduplication in the Thai language is discussed in ‘A Reference Grammar of Thai’ by Iwasaki and Ingkaphirom.

Reduplication can basically be used to indicate plurality or to add various meanings to a word, such as softness (similar to English –ish) or intensity (for emphasis). Sometimes it is used just for the sake of rhythmic effect.

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 Seventy: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

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

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Infographic: How To Learn Any Language In Record Time

There’s tips and there’s tips and the infographic ‘How To Learn Any Language In Record Time’ is chockful. I hope you find it just as useful as I have.

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How To Learn Any Language In Record Time – An infographic by the team at UpgradedPoints.com

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Cat Cartoons Episode Sixty Nine: 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 คำอุทานที่สื่อความหมาย
Narrator: Episode – ‘Kam u-taan’ to Show Emotion.

เก้าแต้ม: แหงวว เจ็บจังเลยอ่ะ อู๊ย ไม่น่าพลาดเลยเรา อูยย
Kao Taem: ‘Ngaeww’! It’s so painful! ‘Ui’! I really shouldn’t have slipped up like that!

วิเชียรมาศ: อ้าว เก้าแต้ม เป็นอะไรไปน่ะ ทำไมถึงเดินตัวแอ่นอย่างงี้(อย่างนี้)ล่ะ
Wi-chian maat: ‘Ao’! Kao Taem, what’s the matter? Why are you walking with your body bent like this?

เก้าแต้ม: แหม ก็เมื่อเช้านี้นะซี่(สิ) ชั้น(ฉัน)เห็นกระรอกกระโดดจากกิ่งไม้นึง(หนึ่ง)ไปกิ่งไม้อีกต้นนึง(หนึ่ง) ชั้น(ฉัน)ก็กระโดดตามแต่ไปไม่ถึงเลยตกแอ้กลงมา หูย เจ็บจัง แหงวว
Kao Taem: ‘Mae’! Well, earlier this morning, I saw a squirrel jumping from one branch to another. I jumped after it but I did not make it and fell down with a loud ‘Aek’! ‘Huy’! It really hurts! ‘Ngaeww’!

วิเชียรมาศ: เจ็บถึงกับร้องแหงวเชียวหรอ เอ แล้วถ้าคนเจ็บ เค้าจะร้องแหงวๆ เหมือนเรารึเปล่าอ่ะ
Wi-chian maat: It hurts so bad that you’re crying out ‘Ngaew’, huh?! So if a person is in pain, would that person cry out ‘Ngaew’ like us?

สีสวาด: คนน่ะเค้าไม่ร้องแหงวๆ หรอก แต่พอร้องปั๊บคนฟังจะรู้เลยว่าอยู่ในอาการอะไร ลองทายดูนะ
Si Sawat: One does not cry out ‘Ngaew’, OK?! But having said that, there are cries that as soon as you make them, the listener will know the state that you are in. Go on and make a guess.

สีสวาด: อู้ย โอ้ย
Si Sawat: ‘Uy’! ‘Oi’!

วิเชียรมาศ: หมายถึงเจ็บ
Wi-chian maat: It means that you’re in pain.

สีสวาด: เอ๊ะ เอ
Si Sawat: ‘Ay’! ‘Ay’!

วิเชียรมาศ: หมายถึงสงสัย
Wi-chian maat: It means that you’re having doubts or you’re suspicious of something.

สีสวาด: อ๋อ
Si Sawat: ‘Or’!

วิเชียรมาศ: หมายถึงเข้าใจ
Wi-chian maat: It means that you understand something.

สีสวาด: เอ้า
Si Sawat: ‘Ao’!

วิเชียรมาศ: หมายถึงให้
Wi-chian maat: It means that you are handing over something.

สีสวาด: โถ
Si Sawat: ‘Toh’!

วิเชียรมาศ: หมายถึงสงสาร
Wi-chian maat: It means that you sympathize with someone.

ผู้บรรยาย: เสียงที่เปล่งออกมาแทนความรู้สึกเรียกว่า คำอุทาน บอกอารมณ์ของผู้พูด
Narrator: The sounds made to represent emotion are called ‘Kam u-taan’, they convey the feelings of the speaker.

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…

‘Kam u-taan’ basically means ‘interjections’. The interjections of each language differ so if you want to sound like a Thai, it would be a good idea to start using Thai interjections instead of the ones that you would normally use.

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 Sixty Nine: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

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

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Successful Thai Language Learner: Karsten Aichholz

Karsten Aichholz

Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners…

Name: Karsten Aichholz
Nationality: German
Age range: 35
Sex: Male
Location: Bangkok
Profession: Aspiring writer. Actual entrepreneur.
Website: I run a website that provides people with free guides on living, working or starting a business in Thailand: Thailand Starter Kit

What is your Thai level?

Advanced.

Do you speak more street Thai, Issan Thai, or professional Thai?

Professional Thai. I can read and understand the fee structure of a an SET-traded fund, but for the life of it have no idea why the lady with the pancake makeup and the helmet haircut is angry at that other lady on some soap opera.

What were your reasons for learning Thai?

My former business partner is a language prodigy. Unless I studied the language extensively I would come across as having learning-disability when sitting next to him in a meeting. I also didn’t want to be the guy who after 10 years in a country still doesn’t speak the language. Initially it was that and some curiosity.

Later on it was mostly for social reasons and some limited business benefits.

Do you live in Thailand? If so, when did you arrive?

I have been living in Bangkok since 2006.

How long have you been a student of the Thai language?

2006+

Did you learn Thai right away, or was it a many-pronged approach?

Back in 2006, the first year I arrived in Thailand, fiddled around with books and websites without making much progress beyond ‘turn right’, ‘vegetarian, please’ and ‘that’s not vegetarian’. I got serious when I first took an intensive Thai class at Chulalongkorn University in 2007. I wrote a review about that experience here: Thai Language School Review – Intensive Thai at Chulalongkorn University. I’ve been studying on and off ever since.

Did you stick to a regular study schedule?

Not as much as I’d like to have. Doing full-time intensive classes forced me to do it for a few weeks each and it helped a lot. In other years it was more of a ‘time permitting’ approach where I’d take up regular classes when my work schedule permitted.

What Thai language learning methods did you try?

I did some self-study (okay, to maintain current level), an intensive Thai class (very good to overcome roadblocks), and took private lessons (great if you can find a topic that interests you and combine it with dedicated self-study). 

Did one method stand out over all others?

One very labor intensive but effective way of self-study was to put entire sentences from Thai Grammar Books on Anki flash cards. It definitely helped with getting a more intuitive understanding of grammar. I would gladly pay good money for ready-made, sentence-based flash cards that can be purchased by topic. Finding topics that excite me (e.g. finance) was one of the biggest factors in making me more dedicated to self-study.

This said, the biggest improvements came from externally imposed schedules that force you to commit time and thought to learning the language.

How soon did you tackle reading and writing Thai?

The first word I read in Thai was the transcription on the McDonald’s sign. That was a week after arriving. I picked up enough to ‘make out’ words reasonably quickly, but didn’t learn how to properly read and write until I took an intensive Thai class that taught me about a year after I arrived.

Did you find learning to read and write Thai difficult?

It didn’t come naturally beyond some newbie gains, but I feel more at ease with written Thai than colloquial Thai.

How do you learn languages?

With dread and reluctance. I wish I was kidding. My work-around is to find a setup that forces me to study or provides a tangible reward in the near future (e.g. signing up for a class, learning the lyrics of a song, reviewing essential information for my business…).

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I have a hard time doing something for which I don’t see rewards in the near future. Though once I believe there’ll be a benefit, I can put up with a lot in order to reach it.

What is the biggest misconception for students learning Thai?

That reading is hard and grammar is easy.

Can you make your way around any other languages?

I’m a native German speaker and picked up English on the internet. French I struggled with in school long enough to allow me some rudimentary communication while crossing a French-speaking country.

Were you learning another language at the same time as Thai?

That would be pure horror to me. Nowadays when I try to speak French, Thai comes out. I can’t imagine how confusing it would be to learn two languages at once.

What advice would you give to students of the Thai language?

Find a very specific benefit you’ll want that requires speaking Thai. It’ll give you a lot of direction, motivation and you’ll have an easier time showing self-discipline. In my humble opinion, motivation alone won’t work: Stop Asking How to Get Motivated.

The Series: Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners…

If you’d like to read more interviews the entire series is here: Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners.

If you are a successful Thai language learner and would like to share your experiences, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

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Cat Cartoons Episode Sixty Eight: 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 โรงหนัง
Narrator: Episode – ‘Rohng nang’.

สีสวาด: หนังสนุกจังเลยนะเก้าแต้ม วิเชียรมาศ
Si Sawat: This movie was a lot of fun. Kao Taem, Wi-chian maat, wouldn’t you say so?

วิเชียรมาศ: จริงจ้ะ ขนาดในโรงหนังหนาวจะแย่ยังไม่มีใครลุกไปเข้าห้องน้ำเลย
Wi-chian maat: That is true. It was freezing cold in the ‘Rohng nang’ and yet nobody got up to go to the restrooms.

เก้าแต้ม: อื้ม สงสัย ทำไมจึงเรียกการฉายแสงให้เป็นภาพบนจอผ้าว่า ฉายหนัง ล่ะ ไม่เห็นมีอะไรเป็นหนังซัก(สัก)อย่าง แถมโรงหนังก็เป็นตึกชัดๆ ไม่ได้ทำจากหนังอะไรซัก(สัก)หน่อย
Kao Taem: Erhmm, there’s been something that I’ve always wondered about. Why is it that the ‘Chaai saeng’-ing of light as a movie is called ‘Chaai nang’? I don’t see anything at all that is made of ‘nang’. Furthermore, a ‘Rohng nang’ is clearly a building and it is not made of ‘nang’ in any way.

สีสวาด: ก็คำว่า หนัง เนี่ยะ(นี่อ่ะ)มาจากการแสดงหนังใหญ่ของไทยไงจ้ะ
Si Sawat: Well, the word ‘nang’ here comes from Thai ‘Nang yai’ performances.

เก้าแต้ม: อืมม หนังใหญ่ หลอ(หรือ)
Kao Taem: Hmm, ‘Nang yai’, eh?!

วิเชียรมาศ: หนังใหญ่ คือ มหรสพที่เอาหนังสัตว์มาฉลุลายให้เป็นรูปตัวละคร แล้วเชิดตัวหนังให้เงาไปทาบอยู่บนจอผ้าขาว
Wi-chian maat: ‘Nang yai’ is a form of entertainment involving the use of puppets made from perforated animal hide as characters of a play and moving the said puppets (in front of a light source) to cast shadows onto a white cloth screen.

เก้าแต้ม: อ๋อ เวลาฉายภาพยนตร์ก็ฉายแสงไปทาบอยู่บนจอเหมือนกัน เลยเรียกภาพยนตร์ว่า หนัง
Kao Taem: Oh, I see! When a movie is shown, it involves the projection of light onto a screen in a similar way, hence why a movie is called a ‘Nang’.

สีสวาด: ใช่จ้ะ ฉายภาพยนตร์ ก็เลยกลายเป็นฉายหนังไงจ้ะ
Si Sawat: That’s it! So the showing of a movie became known as the showing of a ‘Nang’.

ผู้บรรยาย: คำว่า หนัง เป็นคำภาษาปากของคำว่า ภาพยนตร์ คำว่า ยนตร์ เขียน ย ยักษ์ น หนู ต เต่า ร เรือ การันต์
Narrator: The word ‘Nang’ is informal spoken substitute for the word ‘Paap-pa-yon’ and the ‘yon’ in it is written ‘Yor yak, nor noo, dtor tao, ror reua gaa-raan’.

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…

‘Nang yai’ (หนังใหญ่) generally means ‘a form a Thai traditional shadow puppet theatre’.

‘Nang’ (หนัง) literally means skin or hide and ‘Nang yai’ (หนังใหญ่) specifically means ‘a large shadow puppet made from buffalo or cow hide’.

(Adapted from: wiki: Nang yai).

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 Sixty Eight: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

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

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Andrej: How I’m learning Isaan

Andrej

Isaan is a catch phrase for Lao varieties spoken by about 20 million people in North-Eastern Thailand. These languages are closer to Lao than to Thai, but due to Isaan being part of Thailand the influence of Standard Thai is substantial and sets Isaan apart from the Lao spoken across the border. Isaan, Lao and Thai itself are closely related and have split off and developed from one common ancestor language in the past.

Isaan has always been my favourite part of Thailand, both in terms of people and food. I’ve been learning Thai for several years and initially didn’t want to mix things up, but my Thai is now at a level where I feel comfortable, and I’m ready for something new. I was fortunate to find a speaker of Isaan (Ton) willing to work with me long-term, and so it started.

Initial challenges…

There is no *one* Isaan language, there is no standard which could serve as a reference. Actually, there are several varieties/dialects which have different tones and vocabulary. Currently, there is also no established writing system for Isaan dialects, and the Thai writing system, without adaptions, is not suited to represent Isaan pronunciation faithfully. Isaan and Thai tones have different contours, and Isaan varieties can have more than five tones.

There are a few books (in English) and webpages (mostly in Thai) for learners of Isaan. I’ve looked at the books but as I’m not a fan of textbooks, I haven’t worked with them. The Thai websites are pretty useless to me as a primary source because I can’t figure out the correct tone from the approximative Thai spelling. Learning a tonal language without getting the tones right doesn’t work for me.

Andrej

Listening…

So I started out making my own language learning materials. I’ve developed a set of illustrations for basic vocabulary and communicative functions, and I got Ton to record descriptions or questions and answers for these pictures. In the beginning, I only listened to the recordings, trying to understand what’s going on and getting a feel for the tones without analysing anything. Many Isaan words have Thai cognates, so I usually had enough context to guess and learn those words which were different.

After a few months, I added some pictures stories which were a lot of fun but also showed me that many basic words and the language used in real communication can be very different from Thai. There’s a lot I don’t understand at all. The listening phase was pretty casual, I didn’t spend too much time on it, but it was important to get a feel for the tones and learn to recognise some vocabulary.

Andrej

Getting serious…

End of last year, after about ten months of casual listening, I decided to take a stab at the tonal system of Ton’s language. As mentioned before, there are various Lao dialects in Isaan which differ in at least their tonal systems. Ton is from Khon Kaen province, and that’s the variety I’m learning.

There’s actually a pretty neat way to determine the tonal system of Tai languages (like Lao, Thai and other related languages). Due to their common ancestor and how the tonal system developed, all native Tai words fall into one of 20 categories. Words in each category have the same tone, and many categories share the same tone as well (so that Thai ends up with five tones, not 20). In order to figure out the tones of a new dialect, one only has to go through these 20 categories. This approach has been developed by Gedney and is sometimes called ‘Gedney tone chart’ or ‘Gedney tone box’. A corresponding illustration with 80 words which can be used to elicit these 20 categories is on my website.

I went through the Gedney tone chart with Ton. After a bit of back and forth, and also consulting with Luke who knows both Thai and Lao, I distinguish now six tones. They are all pretty different from Thai, and two of them may actually be just one underlying tone with a lot of variability. I’ve recorded the Gedney words and documented the analysis on my website; whoever wants to learn another variety can follow the same approach.

Once I’d figured out the tones, I realised that it’s actually possible to write the language with Thai characters by reinterpreting the tone rules. This is due to the conservatism of Thai spelling which makes learners’ lives difficult but is a huge boon for learning Isaan. For instance, words with ไม้เอก always carry a high tone (which, by the way, sounds different from the Thai high tone): ไก่ ไข่ ด่า พ่อ are all pronounced with a high tone in Ton’s Isaan. I worked through the Gedney chart and wrote down the tone rules, and so far I haven’t found a word I can’t spell with proper Isaan tones.

The writing system is obviously a private one which nobody else uses. I don’t even use it myself consistently when I text-chat with Ton and drop some Isaan because I know that he is more used to approximating Isaan tones with Thai tone marks instead of reinterpreting the rules. But for my learning it’s super useful because I can write all words with their correct tone. For 90% of the cognates, the Thai spelling already gives away the correct Isaan tone, and for the rest I can often figure out the tone from the Lao spelling. It’s a huge boost.

Andrej

Second phase…

Now that I have a writing system, I can transcribe recordings. I love doing transcripts, I’m learning so much by doing this. When I’m just listening, I can gloss over words I don’t understand as long as I still understand the overall message, or even zone out a few seconds. When I’m writing a transcript, I need to catch every word.

This second phase in my Isaan learning journey consists of writing transcripts and seeing a lot of vocabulary and structures in context. I’m mixing slow and easy illustration-based recordings with much more challenging little stories à la ‘Thai Recordings’. Whenever I’ve worked through a recording, I put it on my website and integrate it into the little corpus I’m building up. It’s currently a lot of fun, and I’m seeing a lot of progress in my comprehension.

In order to keep track of the spellings and tones of the words I’m hearing and writing, I’ve started a little dictionary; it’s on the website. It’s a work in progress and constantly developing, but I hope that most of the entries have the right tones and are correctly translated. It’s currently pretty small and doesn’t live up to linguistic standards, but given the dearth of materials it might still be a useful reference, especially if it grows over time.

Andrej

What’s next?…

Who knows. I’m in it for the fun of it. I love languages, and I enjoy experimenting with language learning materials. I have quite a few plans with Isaan, but in the end it all comes down to whether I enjoy what I’m doing or not. It’s clear that all these recordings and transcripts don’t magically turn me into a good speaker of Isaan — in order to develop speaking skills, I need to engage in speaking. What I’m doing now is laying the foundation: acquiring vocabulary, getting ample exposure to structures, getting the tones right.

Links:
Isaan page on aakanee: check out document on tones, the dictionary and the recordings.

Other Isaan dictionaries on the web:
IsanGate
Chula
Thai-Isan-Lao Phrasebook
Pantip: There are a lot of vocabulary lists on Pantip, not well structured but sometimes good to confirm a hunch.

Andrej

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Cat Cartoons Episode Sixty Seven: 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 กรมอุตุฯ
Narrator: Episode – ‘Grom u-dtu’.

วิเชียรมาศกับเก้าแต้ม: ครอก อืม ครอก อืม
Wi-chian maat and Kao Taem: ‘Krok eum’ ‘Krok eum’ (snoring sound)

สีสวาด: เก้าแต้ม วิเชียรมาศ มานอนหลับอยู่นี่เอง ไหนอวดว่ากำลังทำงานอยู่ไง
Si Sawat: Kao Taem! Wi-chian maat! You’re asleep here all this time! Weren’t you the ones bragging about doing some work?

เก้าแต้ม: ก็ทำงานน่ะซี้(สิ)
Kao Taem: We are working, you know?!

สีสวาด: งานอะไร เห็นกรนกันครอกๆ
Si Sawat: What work? I see you snoring loudly: going ‘Krok’ ‘Krok’.

เก้าแต้ม: พวกเราคือ กรมอุตุ
Kao Taem: We are the ‘Grom u-dtu’.

สีสวาด: กรมอุตุนิยมวิทยา
Si Sawat: You mean ‘Grom u-dtu ni-yom wit-ta-yaa’

วิเชียรมาศ: เราก็เป็นอุตุเหมือนกัน แต่เป็นนอนหลับอุตุ
Wi-chian maat: We are also ‘U-dtu’ but we are ‘Non lap u-dtu’.

เก้าแต้ม: นอนต่อดีกว่า
Kao Taem: We best get back to sleeping.

สีสวาด: เอ๊า(อ้าว)
Si Sawat: Sheesh!

ผู้บรรยาย: อุตุ แปลว่า ฤดู กรมอุตุนิยมวิทยา คือ หน่วยงานที่ศึกษาสภาพอากาศและพยากรณ์อากาศ ส่วน นอนหลับอุตุ คือ หลับสบาย
Narrator: ‘U-dtu’ means ‘season’. ‘Grom u-dtu ni-yom wit-ta-yaa’ is the agency that studies and forecasts weather whereas ‘Non lap u-dtu’ is to be sound asleep.

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 this episode Kao Taem makes a pun and finally gets one over Si Sawat.
The ‘Grom u-dtu ni-yom wit-ta-yaa’ (กรมอุตุนิยมวิทยา) is basically the ‘Thai Meteorological Department’.

The punctuation mark ฯ in the word กรมอุตุฯ is called ‘Bpai-yaan noi’ (ไปยาลน้อย) and it shows that the preceding word is abbreviated [‘Grom u-dtu’ (กรมอุตุฯ) is abbreviated from ‘Grom u-dtu ni-yom wit-ta-yaa’ (กรมอุตุนิยมวิทยา)].

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 Sixty Seven: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

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

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YouTube Channel: Fluent in Thai by Narisa Naropakorn

YouTube Channel

Years ago, after getting fed up with the timesink of studying Thai courses only to be told that the phrases I worked so very hard to learn were incorrect (often laughable), I went searching for a Thai teacher who taught real Thai.

Not the Faranged Thai or old-fashioned overly formal Thai found in some courses, but real, honest to goodness Thai that wouldn’t receive a smirk in response.

One name kept coming back from fluent Thai speakers such as Rikker Dockum – Narisa Naropakorn (Thai Skype Teacher).

Studying Thai with Khun Narisa was an eyeopener. Some of the materials were so different from what I’d studied previously that I asked other Thais and fluent students of Thai for verification. Time after time she was proven right.

Now, being a hermit I’m not much of a Thai speaker. And as I can only talk to myself for so long my main Thai focus is translating subjects that I find interesting. Some have made their way to WLT.

You might have noticed that Khun Narisa has collaborated with me on useful posts such as the excellent HouseTalk Series (ongoing), Thai Culture: Understanding Greng Jai (เกรงใจ) (even Thais reference this post), TPR: Total Physical Response 500+ Thai Word List Translated, Tim Ferris: Thai Sentence Deconstruction and much more.

Throughout our class time I kept nudging Khun Narisa to get her book out there. Lucky you, she now has a YouTube channel: Fluent in Thai by Narisa.

Each week Khun Narisa will add a new video to the playlist Speak Thai Fluently with 100 Easy Tips. Right now there’s four videos – be sure to subscribe for more.

Here’s a brief explanation of the YouTube channel Fluent in Thai by Narisa:

Khun Narisa: How many times have you felt misunderstood by Thais even though you’ve spent hours studying?

The results I get from testing learners in their trial lesson shows there’s something missing in the Thai teaching market.

Before coming to study with me many of my students started learning Thai from other resources. Some mention usages of Thai words and expressions that are not familiar to Thai ears and it’s my job to correct the inaccuracies.

As a result, my students often ask me, ‘Hey! The Thai you taught me I’d never heard before. Why don’t you make videos for Youtube or write a book?”

So I collected tips to make a series. After testing the tips with my students I’m confident the videos will help you sound Thai (vocab, grammar and tones).

If you want to know more about studying Thai with Khun Narisa, check this out: Interview with Thai Skype Teacher Khun Narisa Naropakorn

Here are a few reviews from language-school-teachers.com: Narisa Naropakorn.

And if you are interested in a free trial lesson with Khun Narisa, just contact her via her site: Thai Skype Teacher.

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