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Cat Cartoons Episode 113: 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 ไม่ – ไหม้
Narrator: Episode – ‘Mai’ – ‘Mai’.

สีสวาด: สงสารพี่ก้อยจัง อยากจะกินไก่ย่างแต่ก็กินไม่ได้
Si Sawat: I really feel sorry for Pee Goi. She wanted to have some grilled chicken but couldn’t.

วิเชียรมาศ: อ้าว ทำไมล่ะ
Wi-chian maat: Oh! But why?

สีสวาด: ก็พี่ก้อยไปซื้อไก่ย่างมา บอกแม่ค้าว่า เอาชิ้นที่ไม่ไหม้นะ แม่ค้าเข้าใจผิดก็เลยเลือกชิ้นที่ไหม้เกรียมใส่ถุงมาให้นี่แหละ
Si Sawat: When she went to get the grilled chicken, she told the hawker that she wanted the pieces that were ‘Mai mai’. The hawker misunderstood her and picked all the charred pieces and put them into the bag.

วิเชียรมาศ: แม่ค้าเค้า(เขา)ก็ทำถูกแล้วนี่นา เอาชิ้นที่ไหม้ๆ มาให้น่ะ
Wi-chian maat: The hawker got it right, you know?! She gave us all the ‘Mai mai’ pieces.

สีสวาด: ไม่ใช่ พี่ก้อยเค้า(เขา)หมายถึงไก่ที่ย่างสุกพอดีๆ ไม่ใช่เป็นสีดำไหม้เกรียมอย่างที่แม่ค้าเข้าใจ
Si Sawat: No, that’s not it! Pee Goi meant grilled chicken that’s grilled just until it’s well-cooked, and not blackened from charring; the way that the hawker understood it to mean.

วิเชียรมาศ: โถ สงสารพี่ก้อยจังเลย วันหลังจะพูดอะไรต้องระวังคำที่ออกเสียงเหมือนกันนะ
Wi-chian maat: Sheesh! I do feel sorry for Pee Goi. Next time, she has to be more careful when using homophones in her speech.

สีสวาด: คำว่า ไม่ไหม้ ของพี่ก้อย คำแรกเป็นคำปฏิเสธ คือ ไม่ คำหลังเป็นคำกริยา คือ ไหม้ ถ้าพี่ก้อยพูดเว้นระยะซัก(สัก)นิดว่า ไม่เอาชิ้นที่ไหม้ แม่ค้าคงเข้าใจ
Si Sawat: When Pee Goi said ‘Mai mai’, the first word is the negative marker, i.e. ‘not’, whereas the following word is a ‘Gri-yaa’ (or ‘Ga-ri-yaa’) i.e. ‘charred’. If Pee Goi had separated out the two words, for e.g. if she had said ‘Mai ao chin tee mai’, the hawker would’ve understood her.

ผู้บรรยาย: ไม่ เขียน สระไอไม้มลาย ม ม้า ไม้เอก เป็นคำปฏิเสธ ไหม้ เขียน สระไอไม้มลาย ห หีบ ม ม้า ไม้โท เป็นคำกริยา หมายถึง เกรียม ไหม้เกรียม
Narrator: ‘Mai’, spelled ‘Sara ai mai ma-laai, mor maa, mai ayk’, is a negative marker. ‘Mai’, spelled ‘Sara ai mai ma-laai, hor heep, mor maa, mai toh’, is a ‘Gri-yaa’ (or ‘Ga-ri-yaa’) i.e. burned or charred.

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 113: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

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

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Xmas Gift from L-Lingo: ANKI Deck with 1000 Thai Words and Phrases (audio included)

Xmas Gift from L-Lingo

Xmas is coming early this year! For those who want to get a jumpstart on their New Year’s Resolution to learn Thai, L-lingo is giving away an ANKI Deck with 1000 top frequency Thai words and sample phrases. Audio included.

Download the deck here: Thai 1000 Common Words

If you’ve never tried L-lingo, check out the free version of their Quiz-Based Thai lessons.

L-Lingo immerses you in the sights and sounds of the Thai language, rather than just the written word. Our multi-channel teaching method gives you real and rapid results much quicker than traditional flash-card or textbook approaches. Before you know it, you’ll be speaking words and longer sentences with real confidence.

Ho ho ho everyone! Happy Holidays to you and yours.

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Cat Cartoons Episode 112: 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 กางเกงขาก๊วย
Narrator: Episode – ‘Gaang-gayng kaa guay’.

เก่ง: วันเสาร์เนี้ยะ(นี้อ่ะ)พวกพี่จะได้ไปปลูกป่าชายเลนกัน น้องก้อยยังไม่ได้ไปหลอก(หรอก) คงเป็นปีหน้า
Geng: This Saturday, my group will get to join in a mangrove planting activity. Goi, you’re still not able to join in yet. Probably next year.

ก้อย: น่าเสียดาย อยากไปจังเลย แล้วทางโรงเรียนให้แต่งตัวยังไง(อย่างไร)อ่ะ
Goi: What a shame! I really want to join in badly! So what does the school want us to wear?

เก่ง: คุณครูบอกว่าให้นุ่งกางเกงขาสั้นหรือกางเกงขาก๊วยก็ได้ จะได้ทำงานสะดวกๆ
Geng: Our teacher told us that we can wear shorts or ‘Gaang-gayng kaa guay’ so that we can work more comfortably.

ก้อย: เอ๋ กางเกงขาก๊วย มันเป็นยังไง(อย่างไร) เป็นกางเกงยืดๆ ใช่มั้ย(ไหม)
Goi: Hmmm, what are ‘Gaang-gayng kaa guay’-s? They are stretchy pants, right?

เก่ง: ไม่ใช่หลอก(หรอก) กางเกงขาก๊วยเป็นกางเกงแบบจีน ขายาวเลยเข่าลงมานิดหน่อย
Geng: No, they’re not! ‘Gaang-gayng kaa guay’-s are Chinese style pants, where the length of the leg stops just below the knee.

ก้อย: แล้วพี่เก่งมีรึเปล่า
Goi: So…., do you have a pair of those?

เก่ง: มีซี่(สิ) นี่ไง คุณแม่เพิ่งซื้อมาให้พี่เมื่อวานนี้เอง
Geng: You bet I do! Here they are! Mom bought them for me just yesterday.

ก้อย: คุณแม่ขา(คะ) ก้อยอยากได้กางเกงขาก๊วยมั่ง(บ้าง) ซื้อให้ก้อยด้วยนะค้า(คะ)
Goi: Mom! I want a pair of ‘Gaang-gayng kaa guay’-s too! Please buy them for me, pretty please.

ผู้บรรยาย: กางเกงขาก๊วย เป็นกางเกงแบบจีนขายาวเลยเข่าลงมาเล็กน้อย
Narrator: ‘Gaang-gayng kaa guay’-s are Chinese style pants, where the length of the leg stops just below the knee.

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…

‘Gaang-gayng kaa guay’ (กางเกงขาก๊วย) are basically ‘long shorts’ or Capri pants (also known as Three quarter pants, capris, crop pants, pedal pushers, clam-diggers, flood pants, jams, highwaters, culottes or toreador pants).

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 112: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

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

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Proposal: A Thai Language Stack Exchange

Stack Exchange Thai Language

Over at FCLT Jeff Mcneill shared his proposal for a Thai Language Stack Exchange. And as I was unaware of the resource I had to Google.

About: Launched in 2010, the Stack Exchange network consists of 133 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers. Since then, the Stack Exchange network has grown into a top 50 online destination with Stack Overflow alone serving more than 50 million developers every month.

When I asked Jeff the reasoning behind this particular project, he came back with four:

  1. The impetus for the idea was a Stack Exchange question regarding the Thai script and its possible relation to Sanskrit. I think this was in the Linguistics stack. I browsed around for the Thai language stack… and it didn’t exist!
  2. Also, very high quality resources such as thai-language.com have a forum but they are not used much.
  3. Third is that while it seems everyone is on Facebook and there is good discussion, search and indexing of conversations is very poor. It’s fine for keeping up with recent activity, but older topics that might be relevant on into the future are hard to find.
  4. Stack Exchange isn’t perfect but it has been very helpful to me on a number of topics, and doesn’t require an account to read, unlike Quora.

So, just how does this work?

The goal is to come up with at least 40 questions that embody the topic’s scope. When at least 40 questions have a score of at least ten net votes (up minus down), then the proposal is considered “defined.”

And to do just that, first do a quick walk through the Stack Exchange Tour, then go to Area51: Thai Language Stack Exchange.

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Cat Cartoons Episode 111: 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 หวาน
Narrator: Episode – ‘Waan’.

วิเชียรมาศ: พี่เก่งกับพี่ก้อยกินอะไรน่ะ
Wi-chian maat: Say, what’s Pee Geng and Pee Goi eating?

สีสวาด: กินขนมหม้อแกง คุณน้าพี่เก่งไปเที่ยวเลยซื้อมาฝากหลานๆ
Si Sawat: They’re eating Thai coconut custard. Pee Geng’s aunt had gone out and she bought the desserts for her niece and nephew.

วิเชียรมาศ: ขนมหม้อแกงคงจะอร่อยนะ
Wi-chian maat: Thai coconut custard must be yummy, right?!

สีสวาด: พี่เก่งบอกว่าหวานดี พี่เก่งชอบมาก
Si Sawat: Pee Geng said that they’re sweet. He (Pee Geng) absolutely loves them.

วิเชียรมาศ: คุณน้าพี่เก่งสวยนะ คุณน้าหน้าหวาน ตาก็หวาน แถมเสียงยังหวานอีก ใครๆ ชมว่าคุณน้าพี่เก่งร้องเพลงเพราะ
Wi-chian maat: Pee Geng’s aunt is pretty. She (Auntie) is sweet-faced. And she’s got a sweet-sounding voice. Everybody compliments Pee Geng’s aunt on her melodious singing voice.

สีสวาด: นั่นสิ ชั้น(ฉัน)ได้ยินพี่เก่งพี่ก้อยชมคุณน้าว่า คุณน้าทั้งสวย ทั้งเสียงเพราะ ทั้งใจดี
Si Sawat: Exactly! I’ve heard Pee Geng and Pee Goi praising Auntie not only for her beauty but also for having a melodious voice and a kind heart.

วิเชียรมาศ: ถ้าคุณน้าได้ยินคงยิ้มแก้มปริไปเลยนะ
Wi-chian maat: If Auntie were to hear this, she’d probably be smiling ear to ear.

สีสวาด: ใช่ คุณน้ายิ้มแก้มปริ แล้วก็บอกว่าพี่เก่งพี่ก้อยปากหวาน
Si Sawat: Yup! She’ll smile ear to ear and then say that Pee Geng is a sweet-talker.

ผู้บรรยาย: คำว่า หวาน หมายถึง มีรสอย่างรสน้ำตาล รสหวานเป็นรสที่ใครๆ ชอบ คำว่า หวาน นำมาใช้ขยายคำอื่นหลายคำ เช่น หน้าหวาน ตาหวาน เสียงหวาน ส่วน ปากหวาน หมายความว่า พูดเพราะ แต่ก็อาจจะไม่จริงใจ
Narrator: The word ‘Waan’ means ‘(a) taste similar to sugar’. A sweet taste is one that everyone loves. The word ‘Waan’ is used to modify many words for example ‘Naa waan’, ‘Dtaa waan’ and ‘Siang waan’. As for ‘Bpaak waan’, it means to speak politely however it may be done insincerely.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three 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 111: 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): Freshy

Andrew Biggs

A few years ago I caused a minor commotion on TV and online in Pantip Plaza chatrooms when I made an announcement that shook the Thai student world to its very foundations.

In a nutshell, I told everybody to stop referring to any first-year university student as a “freshy” because in the English-speaking world this word didn’t exist. And if a single Thai could find me an international dictionary with the word listed, I would run naked down Silom Road in broad daylight.

The news would have been less shocking had I announced I was moving to Pattaya to get a sex-change and begin my new life as Andrea. This was 2004, pre-instant-messaging, but the reaction was still swift. Surely Andrew couldn’t be serious … but he was.

I was tired of hearing young Thais saying and writing: “I am a freshy at Thammasat University.” How wonderful you got into that esteemed institution, nong (น้อง), but please, if you’re going to speak English, use the proper English word. The word is “freshman” (เฟรช’เมิน), not the Thai made-up “freshy”.

I know, I know. I sound like a nit-picking party-pooper. It’s the kind of topic that curmudgeons who infest the Letters To The Editor pages of the Bangkok Post attack with relish. But I mean, on the grand scheme of things, who cares that Thais say “freshy” while the rest of the world says “freshman”?

I do. I think it’s interesting and curious. “Freshy” is a word derived from English but it just hasn’t been yanked out of the English language and thrown into Thai like other words such as “happy”, “u-turn” and “short-time hotel”. Those words made it across safely; not so poor old “freshman”.

“Freshman” didn’t make the jump intact. Somewhere along the line it got castrated; the “man” was gelded and a prissy little “y” slotted into its place.

How did it happen? I would guess it comes from the fact modern Thais know that we add a “y” to the end of our names to make them less formal. Growing up in Sunnybank I was always called “Biggsy” (when I wasn’t “that strange little boy with the big ears and off-putting facial tic”). When I went to the States I was “Andy”, something the Americans arbitrarily decided without ever asking me … I mean, who in their right mind would choose the dinky-sounding “Andy” over the more distinguished “Andrew” – other than that Gibb brother, of course, and look what happened to him.

Because of this knowledge we now have a nation of young Thais with a “y” at the end of their nicknames. Their parents first dispensed with traditional Thai nicknames such as “moo” (หมู – pig) and ”oo-an” (อ้วน – fat) and started calling themselves such English names as “Gift” (กิฟทฺ), “Bank” (แบงค์) and “Donut” (โดนัต). Can you blame them? Give me “Gift” over “Pig” anyday! But the new generation is calling themselves “Gifty” (กิฟตี้), “Banky” (แบ๊งคี่) and even “Donuty” (โดนัทตี้), as I spotted once in a Sanook.com teen chatroom, which is the punishment I get for trawling such websites.

That’s where it all started. From this the Thais figured a “freshman” could be a “freshy” and the rest is history.

I’m not so black-hearted as to grasp Nong Gifty by her delicate wrist and demand she stop ruining the English language by warping perfectly good English words. Though I have to admit at the time I took the opportunity to expand my crusade against genital mutilation of English vocabulary to other words.

For example, all across Thailand, on graduation day, there are giant CONGRATULATION signs hung up across trees and faded concrete university blocks for young graduates to have their pictures taken. CONGRATULATION is probably freshy’s sibling; it, too, went under the knife during the linguistic leap.

Elisabeth Kubler Ross says there are five stages to dying and I think I went through a similar number with CONGRATULATION. The first was bewilderment that one could accurately write such a long and complicated word, then let the whole team down at the very last letter by omitting the S. Then I went through refusal to believe, as I scoured dictionaries trying to see if indeed, the English language has the word “congratulation” (it does, as in “a letter of congratulation”). The next stage was anger, albeit briefly, until I finally settled on sullen acceptance that this simple Sunnybank boy with the big ears and blinky-bill eyes could never change a nation of 62 million people.

Or could he? Since 2004 I’ve notice the addition of that final S on the graduation signs of some of the better colleges around town, even upcountry. Could it be my constant bleatings had an effect, or do I simply have tabs on myself?

Meanwhile “freshy” continues to run rampant and unabated across campuses. The word no longer means “first year student” and now extends to anybody with a fresh face and youthful demeanor, which suggests this column is even written by a freshy.

What’s interesting is that while Thais have been keen to embrace “freshy”, what about freshy’s under-achieving older brother “sophomore”? Why aren’t myriad Thai students announcing “I am a sophomory” … or even a “juny” or “seny”? In my world those three levels of students have as much right to be castrated as the humble freshman – how did they get off scot free?

Oh look, really, it doesn’t upset me. I kind of like the fact Thais use their creative juices when it comes to the English language — and who says the language is set in stone anyway? If 62 million Thais refer to university students as “freshies”, well that’s three times the population of Australia (and 3,770 times the population of Sunnybank). Majority rules; consider it added to MacMillan’s latest tome. This is what happens with language. Next century some big-eared facial-ticked English teacher’s going to be berating Thais who still use the old-fashioned “freshman”.

It’s already heading that way.

Not long after I threw down my public challenge in the effort to eradicate “freshy”, a young Thai posted a comment on the popular Pantip.com website. Freshy, indeed, could be found in an international dictionary.

The Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2004 (damn you, Bill Gates!) listed the word as a “shortening and alteration of the word freshwater”. For example, an Australian freshwater crocodile is referred to as a “freshy”.

I was fully justified when I scorned the news, announcing in a huff that crocodiles and university freshmen were non-intersecting Venn diagrams, except when the latter went swimming in north Queensland swamps. But my victory was short-lived.

Another student posted that she had a copy of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, and there was this entry:

“Freshy, (slang): a freshman in a college, university or secondary school.”

Clearly one of the Webster’s editors spends his annual holidays halfway around the world in the Silom area otherwise how would they know? Who told them? How could they find out?

The news led to a feeling of “me and my big mouth” in the pit of my stomach, though naturally I never let on. Suddenly there were lots of posts on Pantip.com from Thai teenagers demanding I fulfill my part of the bargain.

I should be happy. In the twilight of my life, there are vast swathes of Thai youth just dying to see me naked.

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Cat Cartoons Episode 110: 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 ดำเป็นเหนี่ยง
Narrator: Episode – ‘Dam bpen niang’.

วิเชียรมาศ: พี่เก่งกับพี่ก้อยกลับมาแล้ว ดีใจจัง
Wi-chian maat: Pee Geng and Pee Goi are back! I’m so glad!

เก้าแต้ม: พี่เก่งกับพี่ก้อยไปไหนมาน่ะ ดูดำไปเยอะเลยเนาะ(นะ)
Kao Taem: Where have Pee Geng and Pee Goi come from? It looks like they’ve got themselves much ‘Dam’-mer, right?

วิเชียรมาศ: คุณพ่อคุณแม่พาไปเที่ยวทะเล พอพี่เก่งกับพี่ก้อยกลับถึงบ้านก็ไปหาคุณยาย เล่าให้คุณยายฟังว่า สนุกจังเลย
Wi-chian maat: Mum and Dad brought them to the beach. As soon as Pee Geng and Pee Goi arrived home, they went to look for Grandma to tell her how much fun it was.

สีสวาด: แล้วคุณยายพูดว่ายังไง(อย่างไร)บ้างล่ะ
Si Sawat: So what did Grandma say?

วิเชียรมาศ: คุณยายบ่นว่าพี่เก่งกับพี่ก้อยเล่นน้ำตากแดดซะตัวดำเป็นเหนี่ยง
Wi-chian maat: Grandma grumbled about Pee Geng and Pee Goi getting ‘Dam bpen niang’ playing on the beach under the sun.

เก้าแต้ม: เหนี่ยง เป็นยังไง(อย่างไร)อ่ะ สีสวาดรู้มั้ย(ไหม)
Kao Taem: What is ‘Niang’? Si Sawat, do you know what it is?

สีสวาด: คงจะตัวอะไรสีดำๆ มั้ง ไม่งั้น(อย่างนั้น)คุณยายคงไม่พูดว่า ตัวดำเป็นเหนี่ยง
Si Sawat: I’m guessing that it’s something black in color otherwise Grandma wouldn’t have said that they were ‘Dam bpen niang’.

ผู้บรรยาย: ดำเป็นเหนี่ยง หมายถึง ผิวดำเหมือนเหนี่ยง เหนี่ยง เป็นชื่อด้วงปีกแข็ง ตัวสีดำเป็นมัน
Narrator: ‘Dam bpen niang’ means the skin is dark like a ‘Niang’. ‘Niang’ is the name of a beetle with stiff wings and a glossy black body.

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…

‘Dam bpen niang’ (ดำเป็นเหนี่ยง) literally means ‘as black as a water scavenger beetle’ however in practice its meaning is much wider than just a reference to color. It can be used to refer to something or someone that is dirty / soiled / grubby / filthy / mucky / unwashed / muddy / dusty / sooty.

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 110: 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): 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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