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Thai Language Thai Culture: Talking About the Weather

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Talking about the weather…

What better way to break the ice and start a conversation than to talk about the weather? I know it is a bit cliché-ish but, hey, it works. And in Thailand, the sentence, “The rainy season sure is late this year” is a much better conversation starter than “What’s your sign?” And “It sure is hot and humid” beats out, “Do you come here often?” hands down. Really, try it. So, with that in mind, here is a short primer on talking about the weather in Thai.

The Seasons…

First we should know how to talk about the big picture, the seasons. It is well-known that Thailand has three seasons. Well, maybe. There are two common synonyms for “season” in Thai. The word ฤดู /réu-doo/ is of Sanskrit origins and is used in more formal settings like writing or giving a speech. The more common word is หน้า /nâa/. From this point we’ll use the more common word but remember that either one works fine.

Thailand’s three seasons, the ones most guidebooks refer to are:

The rainy season: หน้าฝน /nâa fŏn/ (ฝน /fŏn/ = rain)
The cool/cold season: หน้าหนาว /nâa năao/ (หนาว /năao/ = cold)
The hot season: หน้าร้อน /nâa rón/ (ร้อน /rón/ = hot)

But there are lots of other seasons here too.

Some other terms used with ฤดู /réu-doo/ and หน้า /nâa/ are:

Harvest time: หน้าเก็บเกี่ยว /nâa gèp gìeow/ (season of harvesting)
Animals’ mating season: หน้าติดสัด /nâa dtìt sàt/ (season of being in heat)
Time for rice-planting: หน้าไถหว่าน /nâa tăi wàan/ (season of plowing and sowing)
Rice-growing season: หน้าทำนา /nâa tam naa/ (season of working in the fields)
Dry season: หน้าแล้ง /nâa láeng/ (months when it is not the rainy season)
Monsoon season: หน้ามรสุม /nâa mor-rá-sŭm/ (both English and Thai words are of Arabic origin)

Then of course there are the western seasons:

Spring: nหน้าใบไม้ผลิ /nâa bai mái plì/ (season of budding leaves)
Summer: หน้าร้อน /nâa rón/ (hot season)
Fall/Autumn: หน้าใบไม้ร่วง /nâa bai mái/ rûang (season of falling leaves)
Winter: หน้าหนาว /nâa năao/ (cold season)

Temperature…

The Thai word for “temperature” is อุณหภูมิ /un-hà-poom/. The word for “degree” is องศา /ong-săa/. And, as in English, this word is also used when measuring degrees of angles and of the compass. Thailand uses the Celsius (or Centigrade) scale for temperature.

Here is how the different temperature systems are referred to:

Degrees Centigrade: องศาเซ็นติเกรด /ong-săa sen dtì gràyt/
Degrees Celsius: องศาเซลเซียส /ong-săa sayn-sîat/
Degrees Fahrenheit: องศาฟาเรนไฮต์ /ong-săa faa-rayn-hai/

Examples:

วันนี้ อุณหภูมิ 29 องศาเซลเซียส
wan née un-hà-poom 29 ong-săa sayn-sîat
Today it is 29 degrees Celsius.

วันนี้ อุณหภูมิ 84 องศาฟาเรนไฮต์
wan née un-hà-poom 84 ong-săa faa-rayn-hai
Today it is 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

Humidity…

The word for humidity is ความชื้น /kwaam chéun/. Humidity is measured in percent. The English word “percent” means “part of 100”. This is exactly how the Thai word for percent is made up: จำนวนร้อยละ /jam-nuan rói lá/ (amount per 100). But it is probably easier to just use the English loan word เปอร์เซ็นต์ /bper-sen/.

Examples:

วันนี้ความชื้นจำนวนร้อยละ 89
wan née kwaam chéun jam-nuan rói lá 89
The humidity is 89% today.

or:

วันนี้ความชื้น 89 เปอร์เซ็นต์
wan née kwaam chéun 89 bper-sen
The humidity is 89% today.

The Sun…

As oppressive as it often is, the sun plays an important part in Thai life.

There are lots of words for “sun”:

ตะวัน /dtà-wan/
ดวงอาทิตย์ /duang aa-tít/
ไถง /tà-ngăi/
ทินกร /tin-ná-gon/
พระอาทิตย์ /prá aa-tít/
รวิ /rá-wí/
รำไพ /ram-pai/
สุริยน /sù-rí-yon/
สุริยา /sù-rí-yaa/

But the easiest to remember, and most used in common speech is พระอาทิตย์ /prá aa-tít/. The prefix พระ /prá/ refers to the sun as a god, just like in many other cultures. Interestingly, the word for “sunny” แดดออก /dàet òk/ uses none of the above. The word แดด /dàet/ means “sunlight”.

The common words for “sunrise”, ตะวันออก /dtà-wan òk/, and “sunset” ตะวันตก /dtà-wan dtòk/ use the word ตะวัน /dtà-wan/ for “sun” and are also the same words used for the compass directions of “east” where the sun “comes out” ออก /òk/ and for “west” where it “goes down” ตก /dtòk/.

Another word for the sun, อาทิตย์ /aa-tít/, is the common word for “week”. And วันอาทิตย์ /wan aa-tít/ is the word for “Sunday”. There is also a more formal word for “week” of Pali origin, สัปดาห์ /sàp-daa/. And the word for “weekend” is วันสุดสัปดาห์ /wan sùt sàp-daa/ (The days at the end of the week).

The Moon…

If anything, there are more Thai words for “moon” and its phases than there are for the sun.

Moon:
จันทร์ /jan/
พระจันทร์ /prá jan/
แข /kăe/
จันทรา /jan-traa/
ดวงจันทร์ /duang jan/
ดวงเดือน /duang deuan/
เดือน /deuan/
ศศิธร /sà-sì-ton/

Half moon: เดือนครึ่งดวง /deuan krêung duang/
Quarter moon: เดือนครึ่งเสี้ยว /deuan krêung sîeow/
New moon: เดือนดับ /deuan dàp/
Full moon: เดือนเต็มดวง /deuan dtem duang/
The full moon: บุณมี /bun-ná-mee/
Full-moon day: วันเพ็ญ /wan phen/

And as with the word for “sun”, the most commonly heard is the one where the moon is made a godhead, พระจันทร์ /prá jan/. One of the words for “moon” เดือน /deuan/ is the same Thai word as we use for “month”. This is exactly the same as is done in English as the words “moon” and “month” both have the same Sanskrit root, as does the word “menstruation”, which in Thai is ประจำเดือน /bprà-jam deuan/ (monthly).

The various Thai words for sun and moon offer many roots for Thai names. The tongue-twisting word เดือนเต็มดวง /deuan dtem duang/, meaning “full moon” is the name of the former female mayor of Chiang Mai. Try saying her name 5 times in a row. An expat friend of mine once made a super faux pas scrambling up her name when introducing her to a large audience. Even she laughed.

The Weather…

The Thai word for “weather”, อากาศ /aa-gàat/, is the same word for “air” and “climate”. Good weather is อากาศดี /aa-gàat dee/.

The following are “bad weather” words:

Storm: พายุ /paa-yú/
Thunderstorm: พายุฟ้าคะนอง /paa-yú-fáa-ká-nong/ (rumbling sky)
A lightning strike: ฟ้าผ่า /fáa pàa/ (split sky)
Lightning: ฟ้าแลบ /fáa-lâep/ (flashing sky)
Thunder: ฟ้าร้อง /fáa róng/ (crying sky)
Humid: ชื้น /chéun/
Stuffy; sweltering; humid: อบอ้าว /òp âao/ (roasting hot)
Rain: ฝน /fŏn/
To drizzle: ปรอย ๆ /bproi bproi/
To drizzle; sprinkle: พรำ /pram/
Drizzle; fine drops: พรำ ๆ /pram pram/
Cloudy: มีเมฆมาก /mee mâyk mâak/ (lots of clouds)
Fog; mist; foggy; misty: หมอก /mòk/
Smog: ควัน /kwan/ (smoke)

Talking about the weather…

Now for some sentences that a TV weatherperson might say. All work well when added to the phrases like the ones below.

Today: นนี้ /ná-née/
This evening: เย็นนี้ /yen née/
This season: หน้านี้ /nâa née/
Nowadays: ทุกวันนี้ /túk wan née/
Tomorrow: พรุ่งนี้ /prûng née/
This year: ปีนี้ /bpee-née/

อากาศดีเย็นนี้
aa-gàat dee yen née
Nice weather this evening.

แดดออกวันนี้
dàet òk wan née
It’s sunny today.

หน้านี้เย็นสบาย
nâa née yen sà-baai
It’s comfortably cool this season.

ทุกวันนี้อากาศแย่
túk wan née aa-gàat yâe
The weather is terrible nowadays.

วันนี้ร้อนมากๆ
wan née rón mâak
Today it’s really hot.

หน้านี้ฝนตกมาก
nâa née fŏn dtòk mâak
It rains a lot this season.

ฝนจะตกเย็นนี้
fŏn jà dtòk yen née
It’s going to rain this evening.

อากาศอบอ้าว
aa-gàat òp âao
It sure is hot and humid.

พายุจะมาพรุ่งนี้
paa-yú jà maa prûng née
There’s a storm coming tomorrow.

ปีนี้หน้าฝนมาช้า
bpee-née nâa fŏn maa cháa
The rainy season sure is late this year.

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog

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Hugh Leong loves explaining things. And during his 40 plus years of trying to learn Thai and its culture, he learned to love the cross-cultural aspect of living in a foreign country and speaking its language. His series, Thai Language Thai Culture, covers various aspects of learning Thai, and how the Thai culture influences how we say things.

7 Comments

  1. Although it is ok to break the ice by starting a conversation with Thai people with a question about the weather, in Thailand, people tend to start a conversation by asking each other if he or she has eaten something yet. It is a very important aspect of Thai society. So, คุณ Catherine ทานข้าวหรือยังครับ?

  2. You are so right. In Thailand, I am reminded of food all day long!

    กินข้าวแล้ว แล้วคุณล่ะ

    (btw – welcome to WLT :-)

  3. Oneditorial,

    Thanks for the idea for another column.

  4. เพิ่งทานพิซซ่าครับ อร่อยมากๆครับ ขอบคุณครับ

  5. Great post Hugh. I’ve needed to add to my vocabulary list and this does quite nicely.

  6. Hugh and Catherine – Another goldmine of rich language information and I’ll be joining Talen in getting parts of this down on paper. I have always read the weather is not a big conversational point in Thailand but I’ve always thought otherwise as Wilai often mentions the cold, wind, rain and sun in our telephone calls, this will be very handy for me. I like the way the Thai language groups certain things together by just swapping one word;

    The rainy season: หน้าฝน nâa fŏn (ฝน fŏn = rain)
    The cool/cold season: หน้าหนาว nâa năao (หนาว năao = cold)
    The hot season: หน้าร้อน nâa rón (ร้อน rón = hot)

    For me it makes learning much more easier because I remember the main word (naa) and just add the second to suit, perfect. It’s just adding words around them which confuses me. A very good lesson and most productive from my own circumstances.

  7. This post corresponds nicely to something I was going to throw on my Facebook wall last week: Never thought I’d utter these words but I’m getting to know my local 7/11 employee.

    And what was my opener? The weather :D (fon dok mak mak!)

    Thanks for the new vocab list!

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