And then The Now Habit arrived. When reading, I just KNEW I had to start all over again because without a doubt, I am a THAI LANGUAGE LEARNING PROCRASTINATOR! Groan…
The NOW Habit: The procrastination habit catches people in a vicious cycle: get overwhelmed, feel pressured, fear failure, try harder, work longer, feel resentful, lose motivation, and then procrastinate.
That’s me. Totally. The more I should study my Thai lessons, the more I dig myself into a hole of work, work and more work. I get everything done BUT learn Thai. Like this blog…
The NOW Habit: People don’t procrastinate just to be ornery or because they are irrational. They procrastinate because it makes sense, given how vulnerable they feel to criticism, failure, and their own perfectionism… there is one main reason why we procrastinate: it rewards us with temporary relief from stress.
This is good because I’m not lazy, I’m the total opposite. I’m a workaholic. And due to a misguided aim at perfectionism, I use any excuse to avoid what I fear the most. Failure. So I’ll grab what I know I’m good at, and dance around learning Thai.
My new to-do list re: The NOW Habit…
Procrastinate as usual for a week.
Record my day in sections: morning, mid-morning, afternoon, evening.
Set priorities: low, medium, high + urgent.
Keep a procrastination log: activity, thoughts, justification, solution, results.
With exactly one week to go before Xmas, there is just enough time to shop for the Thai language learner in your life.
And while these books are not about learning Thai, they are about Thailand. Equally important.
About the list… I asked friends and forums for their favourite books on Thailand and Thai culture. I received 50 over. Out of those, I chose what I believe are the top of the lot.
About the books… after procuring my list, I contacted Danny at DCO books to fill in the holes. From personal experience, it’s cheaper to have DCO send via motorcycle taxi, then waste time and taxi money fighting BKK traffic (sometimes for days at a time).
About the photo… In a Mon (มอญ) settlement in Bangkok, children still wear their hair in the old-fashioned topknot (จุก – jòok) from centuries ago.
Thai language. Thai history. Thai culture. There is so much to learn.
I created Women Learn Thai not just to take on the language, but to study the history and culture of all things Thai.
For research (especially living in a city the size of Bangkok), the Internet is a jewel. But being old-fashioned, my first choice will always be books. And when I need to source a lot of books at once, I go for secondhand over new.
For my first trip for WLT, Dasa Book Cafe was it. Just inside the door beyond the tea tables, the Thai section. A mix of facts, personal experience and fiction.
On the drive over, my Canadian buddy Lynn admitted a firm fiction focus. Christopher G Moore. Famous, proliferate, Bangkok-based, Canadian. She drooled.
So while she headed for Spirit House and the Smile series, I detoured towards Reflections on Thai Culture (William J Knausner), Thailand, a Short History (David K Wyatt), and Bangkok (William Warren).
That was then. This is now. And now (saving Dasa for afters), it was quick-like into a taxi and over to Siam Paragon for a plastic wrapped copy of Heart Talk, by none other than Lynn’s Christopher G Moore.
Thai heart Thai identity…
When I first read the title, I thought “oh, no, not another book about the steamy side of Thailand!”. Which was soon followed by, “wait a second, I LIKE sex!”…
But Heart Talk is not pillow talk. That’s right. A jai does not sexy make.
Another feature is the reversal of order in certain expressions. Thus jai dee (good heart) refers to the nature of a good-hearted person while dee jai (glad heart) refers to the emotional state of gladness. In a number of cases, the switch can turn a negative feeling into a good personality trait. For example, òn jai (worn-out heart) means weary-minded, while jai òn (soft heart) refers to someone who goes out of their way to help others.
A cause for Heart Talk…
When I decided to feature Heart Talk, I searched the web for available resources (and found more than a few). When I mentioned my mini-project to Christopher, he advised to take care.
Checking through my growing spreadsheet, I compared my finds with Heart Talk and I had to agree. Learning heart words without realising the nuances could get you into difficulties with the language. And difficulties, I can do without.
Some jai expressions are descriptive of the nature of a person. For example, a person with an impatient nature is jai rón (hot heart) and a person with a sensitive, touchy nature is nói jai (touchy heart).
Other times a phrase is connected with an emotional state and not necessarily the nature of the person experiencing the emotion. Thus a feeling of panic translates as jai túm túm dtòm dtòm (panic heart).
A similar mistake is to use our western mindset in a Thai world. For instance, look at เย็นใจ (yen jai). เย็น (yen) = cold, while ใจ (jai) = heart (or mind). As a westerner, I jumped to the conclusion that a cold heart is a negative and a hot heart is well, sexy. Wrong. In Thailand, a hot heart is a negative and a cold heart is a positive.
Comfortable Heart สบายใจ (sà-baai jai) เย็นใจ (yen jai): You have entered a state of feeling perfectly in tune with yourself emotionally or a state of comfort and pleasantness. You feel comfortable inside yourself and with those around you; there is an inner peace and sense of calm.
Another mistake beginners (as in myself) often make is to take on Thai words or word units without learning how they fit into a sentence.
And that’s an additional plus of Heart Talk. Each heart word is clarified as being either adverb, adjective, verb, or noun. Tricky stuff. So the heart of this advice? Be free with nouns, but check before using others.
The nouns of Heart Talk…
In Heart Talk there are 60+ nouns. With Christopher’s permission I’ve recorded around half that number. The descriptions are inspired (and at times direct) from HT the book. The voice is all น้ำใจ Niwat.
Inspiration Heart (p28)
raang ban-daan jai
Inspirational. Includes emotional support, guidance, insight and knowledge conveyed to others.
Water Heart (p67)
Someone who is considerate.
Broad Heart (p77)
náam jai an gwâang-kwăang
A generous and unselfish person.
True Essence of the Heart (p84)
náam săi jai jing
A person who helps without expecting a return.
Egocentric Heart (p94)
chôp tam dtaam am-per jai
A self-centred or egocentric person.
Devil in One’s Heart (p121)
Someone who destroys the love existing between people.
CHARACTER OF THE HEART
Emotional State of the Heart (p131)
Uncaring person (lack of compassion or sensitivity).
In the context of a person’s personality or natural disposition. Or the emotional reaction to a person or event.
Mind and Spirit Heart (p157)
A mental state inside your head or heart.
Life, Mind and Spirit Heart (p157)
chee-wít jìt jai
This is my favourite. The idea is that people have value and are entitled to be treated with respect and regard.
Understanding Heart (p158)
jai kăo jai rao
Understand another as you understand yourself.
Thoughts inside the Heart (p165)
kwaam nai jai
Thoughts you keep to yourself.
Beloved Heart (p168)
The bonds of love between mother and child.
Eye of the Heart (p169)
duang dtaa duang jai
The object of your love and affection (husband, wife, sometimes child).
Star of the Heart (p169)
A child is the star of the parents.
Star of the Heart (p169)
Ditto, the child is the centre (star) of a parent’s heart.
COMMUNITY AND SOLIDARITY
Power of the Heart (p190)
The feeling that comes from communal sharing.
Confederate Heart (p191)
pôo rûam jai
A strong, intimate bond between people intune to each other.
Seduction Machine of the Heart (p193)
krêuang lôr jai
Describes the drive some people have for material things.
Power of the Heart (p194)
The sense of spirit or encouragement to complete a task, to accomplish something.
Good Friend Heart (p198)
pêuan rûam jai
A close friend (soulmate).
Refuge of the Heart (p200)
têe pêung taang jai
Where you find refuge (amulets, religion, politics, people).
RESPONSIBILITY AND THE FAMILY
Centre Heart (p208)
The object at the centre of something. For location, it could be a street or building. For people, parents or children could apply.
Geographic Centre Heart (p208)
The centre of a country is jai meuang.
Geographic Centre Heart (p208)
jai glaang meuang
The centre of a city is jai glaang meuang.
Truth in the Heart (p246)
kwaam jing jai
Someone sincere in words and actions.
The Heart of the Matter (p248)
The meaning, substance or gist of the matter in question.
The Heart of the Matter (p248)
kôr yài jai kwaam
Ditto in being the substance or gist of the matter in question.
Where to buy Heart Talk…
If you live in Thailand, you can pick up Heart Talk at most bookstores with English on offer (in BKK, Asia Books and the lovely Kinokuniya Bookstore come to mind). If not, the amazon is a sure bet.