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A good way to learn the Thai language is through listen .Listening to Thai music can improve your listening skill as well as to learn new words .
One band that is easy to listen to with many meaningful lyrics is a band called Loso (very famous rock band in Thailand).They have many albums from heavy rock song with stinging lylics like Mai tong huang chun "don't worry about me"(Lo Society album) ,smooth sweet melodic love songs like Som Sarn (Entertainment album).For people who don't know Loso "The Best of Loso" is a good introduction to this band's music.
If you don't know what to listen to then just pick a CD cover you like and start improving your Thai listening skill.
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Thai Language is difficult.
The Thai language is comprised of 44 consonants, 32 vowels and five tones in Thai pronunciation, along with a script that has Indian origins. The Thai language, belonging to the Tai family, is the main language in Thailand although there are several regional dialects as well. Other languages spoken in Thailand are Chinese, Lao, Malay and Mon-Khmer, while English use is becoming more prevalent in government and commerce.
Some Basic Thai Phrases:
Yes - Chái
No - Mâi chái
Thank you - Khàp khun
No, thank you - Mâi ao khàp khun
Hello - Sawàt dii
Excuse me - Khãw thôht
Please - Karuna
I do not understand - Mâi Khâo jai
I like you! - Phom chawp koon
I cannot speak Thai - Poot passat Thai mai dai
Can speak a little Thai - Poot passat Thai nit noy
How much? - Thâo rai or Kee Baht?
Can you discount a little - Lot rakka dai mai
Too expensive - Paeng Pai.
I want it cheaper - ow thuuk
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Thai is the official language of Thailand, and is spoken by some 65 million people. Thai is written in a variation of the Khmer script that is used in Cambodia and Laos. Thai writing uses 44 consonants and 15 vowels, and no capital or small letters (similar to many other Asian languages).
Learn a few basic phrases. My favorites are:
Sawadeekap (in English sa-what-ee-cop) -- Hello
Kapgunkap (cop-goon-cop) -- Thank you
Soi Mak Ma (soy mock maaaaa) -- That is very beautiful (and yes, you say maaaaa!)
http://www.thai2english.com/ ... here is a Thai-English dictionary.
Gender-specific politeness particles
Since Thai is a tonal languag, you cannot indicate mood, emotion, or politeness by tone as in English. To do this Thai has particles, words that frequently end phrases or sentences. I saw above the recommendation that you say "khorp koon ka" for "thank you." This is only said by a woman. Said by a man it should be "khorb koon khrap." "Ka" is the female politness particle; "khrap" is the male politeness particle.
Shops... with the silent S
Thai pronunciation is all loverrly and singy sighy songy. On one third volume. Before we start here, I just want to say that Thais should be congratulated on giving the English language a crack, particularly when their language seems to be fine, thank you very much.
However, you don't tend to pronounce an "s" or make any "SSSss" sound at the end of a word. So when a Phoenix mutates from the ashes it becomes a Phoenick
Shopping is a Thai national sport. So the no Ssssses at the end of words makes it quite weird for an English bloke here talking with a Thai as to where to go shopping. To get your Oysters in Szechuan Sauce.
You see, we English folk refer to shops, Arkwright's, WHSmith's, Marks and Spencer's, Sainsbury's, Tesco's, Harrod's, as if we are nipping round to the owner's place. Just like we tell our mum we are going round to Graham Jackson's to play Subbuteo. In Thailand you go to Graham Jackson to play Subbuteo.
You don't go to Tops, you go to Top.
You don't go to Lotus, you go to Lotut.
So... when chatting with your friendly helpful security guard when you're too half cut to stagger to the shops yourself, you may need to say,"Pee Somcahi, plea can you nip round to Tesco Lotut and buy sick Heineken sick pack. Thank"
(And how many security guards in Wycombe would help you out like this, in near fluent Thai? Aye. It's good here.)
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Phoenetic Translations into English
Road / street signs and maps can sometimes be a bit bewildering. "Ratchadamri Road" on one map may become "Rajdamri Road" on a street sign. A "Veephavadi" exit becomes a "Weeparahawadi" exit just half a mile up the expressway. "Chatuchak" mutates into "Jadjujak". Oh yes does this cause a few problems for the unsuspecting tourist. Remember: Thai to English translations are done ponetically and, while there is an accepted general code book for this, in a good many cases the translation is left up to the gut feel of the signwriter on that particular day.
If you are getting confused by changing signs, or signs that don't seem to run in sequence "pronounce the things out loud". If it broadly sounds like where you should be going (the Vs become W's, or the "ch's" become "j's") you are likely to be on track. Reflect on your confusion with a wry smile and a thankful thought of "well, at least there is an hospitable attempt to help us lot what can't understand Thai script". How many road signs round Trafalagar Square are written in Thai, Chinese, Japanese etc? Yeah.
The signs in the accompanying photo are a reminding poke at drunken driving in the run up for the New Year. Neatly translated at an expressway entrance they say "Road to Hell", "Death's Highway" and other similar mick takes of the looneys that get slaughtered on local brews, drive off into the sunrise and end up killing themselves - by the hundreds at festival time.
"Sanuk" and having a “len”
The keywords in Bangkok are: Sanuk and Len.
If it isn’t "sanuk" then why do it? Sanuk means to have a good time, to enjoy oneself and to derive pleasure and joy from something. It is almost a rule of living for Thai people that whatever they do have to be "sanuk". The concept of "sanuk" goes beyond the having of a good laugh or a good time at a dance or a performance, it's the feeling you need all the time to keep on going.
Here you go with some examples of "sanuk" activities.
...Thamngan sanuk - enjoying work
...Khui sanuk - enjoying a good chat / being a good chatter
...Daa sanuk - enjoying scolding your bloke
...Thuuk daa sanuk - enjoying your missus scolding you.
If you want to meet the locals it’s dead easy. Show you are enjoying yourself, lob the biggest grin on your gob, and look approachable. Who cares how old, how large, how smelly (well they do mind the smelly bit) you are, you will find Thais coming up and wanting to be part of your “sanuk”. The same concept of deriving pleasure from whatever one does is reflected also in the use of the word "len".
...Poot len - you’re having a laugh, talking rubbish / funny.
...Len pool mister? - Do you fancy a game of pool?
Sanuk and len (and food) may help us all understand the priority of the Thais. ...People. And once a year a bit of “sanuk” dabbling talcum powder on Bangkok’s Finest is most certainly a good “len”. ...And no, you can't have your 300THB back for not wearing a crash helmet on your motorbike. Sanuk only goes so far.
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Mai Pen Rai...
Mai Pen Rai is a phrase that pops up alot in and around Bangkok - you are bound to get it at some point. It's a sort of, "Oh dear, never mind" / "Mustn't grumble" sort of thing. No big deal.
You would use it in a similar way as sitting in a pub in London having the following conversation,
"...and on top of it all there's now all these terrorist threats and we are at war with Iraq. Typical ! ....oh well, mustn't grumble". Not that Thais would be grumbling about it in the first place...
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Shops again.... L becomes N
Again, hats off to Thai's for giving the English language a go, when we natives tend to treat any foreign language with the "wouldn't touch it with a barge pole" treatment. ...However, staying with the subject of letters on the end of words and how this can make shopping a cultural awareness exercise.
If an English word ends with an "al", e.g. animal, some Thais prefer to pronounce it animan. Knock the l out of it and whack an n in.
So Central Department Store to a taxi driver will quite often simply be referred to as Centran. The abonimal snowman will become aboniman, though it is unlikely you will need this particular example in the 32 degree heat.
In Bangkok's many cafes and Starbucks (pronounced "Starbuck") you may be offered a Norman Coffee. Wow! Must be like an Irish coffee or something. Nup. It's very un-wow. A luke warm mug of crap Nescafe Instant is what you will get.
So..."Pee Somchai, can you nip to Centran and buy me a jar of Norman Nescafe for my hangover plea. Krab"
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Thai Language- Rather Daunting
So far, I have found the thai language harder to get the hang of than any other. I've managed to get by in spanish and french in the past, but when the alphabet is totally different, it presents a whole new challenge. I hate to come accross as the ignorant tourist who can't be bothered to learn at least some of the language, but be prepared for quite some challenge!
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Hello = Sawadee (sa-wah-dee)
a variant is to add a 'Ka" at the end
so the greeting will be sa-wah-dee-ka
Thank you = Khop-Khun (cop-cun with the second syllable pronunced as in "cancun")
Yes = Chai
No = Mai-chai
When you meet Thai people don't be surprised if they 'WAI' to you! It's a traditional greeting manner done by putting two palm together at about the chest and bow the head with it. In addition, they say 'sawaddee krub' if you're a male and 'sawaddee ka' if you're a female. Both words mean 'hello'.
DOs AND DON'Ts
- Be polite and respectful toward older people.
- Sample the local food and try out some of Thailand's exotic fruits. But not the food on the street since the food may be contaminated and will give you a sickness.
- Try and learn a little about local customs and culture.
- Take off your shoes when entering a Thai home.
- When visiting a temple or palace, dress propely
- Don't pat people on the head since Thai people regard the head as the highest, the holiest part in the body.
- Don't point your feet to another people since Thai people regard the feet as the lowest part in the body.
- Be patient with Thai people who do not speak English.
- Don't mock Thai customs and habits even though they may seem strange to you.
- Don't attempt to touch monks, especially if you are a female.
Thai is the national language as well as the most spoken language of Thailand. It is wise to learn to speak a few Thai words and phrases, if you want to survive in Bangkok.
The language ...
Fortunately most signs that you will need are in both Thai and English, such as this one in a Sky Train station.
Do learn a few phrases in Thai before you go -- but a warning -- it is a tonal language and you're likely to make a mess of anything more than those few phrases.
The best to learn are:
sawatdee kha [for a woman] = hello/goodbye
sawatde khrab [for a man]
khorb koon kha [khrab] = thank you
mai pen rai = nevermind, doesn't matter
mai ow = I don't want
People in Bangkok
People in Bangkok are very different. In usually the life is slow, people are much slower than people in Europe or the US. The streets are alwas full of people. The are very nice and helpfull. They like learn English. Not many people speaking this language, but they want lear. Help Them!
Thai is a tonal language belonging to the group of Ka-Tai languages, the five tones are monotone, low, falling, high, and rising. This can be a rather complicated language for the visitor; however, English is quite widely understood, particularly in Bangkok where it is almost the major commercial language
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