An introductory lesson to the Thai language

As it’s wearily to keep mentioning every time “Haad Rin Beach” or “Ban Kiri Wong village”, I will make a few notes for a better understanding of this blog and of Thailand itself.

  • Haad (or Had) means beach
  • Ban means village or house

A few more:

  • Ko (or Koh) means island, so “Ko Kradan island” is a pleonasm.
  • Mu Ko means archipelago
  • Amphoe means province, and Amphoe Mueang means capital of the province. Don’t laugh, it might come helpful when you are in Amphoe Songkla and need to get to Amphoe Mueang Songkla, the city where you booked your accommodation.
  • Tambondistrict. Each Amphoe is divided into more Tambons.
  • Ao means gulf
  • Laem – cape Mae Nam – river
  • Namtok waterfall
  • Phu or Khao mountain. Khao is used more often.
  • Tham cave
  • Wat temple. You already knew that, this is only a reminder. We cannot say “I went to Wat Phra Mahathat temple”.

The transliterations from Thai alphabet to the Latin one seem to follow no rule and can be quite confusing sometimes. To give you an example: the village I live in is called Chaloklam, Chalok Lam, Chaloklaam and Chaloklum.

Moreover, you’ll find on the internet similar names which can lead to hundred of kilometers detours if you don’t pay enough attention. Do not confuse, then, Pha Ngan (the island in the Gulf of Thailand) with Phang Nga (the province on the Andaman Sea coast) or Pattaya beach on Koh Lipe with Pattaya city near Bangkok.

Here are some more useful words:

  • Naam water
  • Bia beer. But it’s better if you just ask directly for the brand: Singh, Leo, Archa, Chang or Heineken.
  • Nîng one
  • Songtwo
  • Sam– three
  • Lau Uaiwine
  • Buri cigarettes
  • Keptang check / bill
  • Phom me, in case you are a man
  • Dichan (or Chan) – me, if you are a woman
  • Khunyou, no matter the sex
  • Kaurice (it is generically used for “food”). You will often hear “Ghin Kau?”. It means “Are you hungry?”. Answer with Krap (if you are a man) or Kaa (if you are a woman). If not, shake the head and they will get it.
  • Kho Thor Krap/Kaa excuse me / forgive me

Phi Phi, Phuket sau Pha Ngan are not pronounced Fifi, Fuck It or Fangan, but exactly as they are written, using an exhaled “p”. The NGs should be pronounced like in the word “angle”.

  • Tonii (accent on ii) – now
  • Tilan (accent on i) – later
  • Tinai (accent on the first i) – where?
  • Tinii (accent on the last i) – here
  • Uan nii (accent on ii) – today
  • Ghin nii (accent on ii) – tomorrow
  • Arroy tasty/good (related to food)
  • Arroy mac macvery, very good/tasty
  • Array na?what?
  • Phom Mai Kau Chai Paasa Thai Krap I don’t understand Thai language (for men)
  • Dichan Mai Kau Chai Paasa Thai Kaa I don’t understand Thai language (for women)
  • Nitnoy (accent on it) – little
  • Cha-cha slowly, easy, no rush. It is pronounced exactly like the name of the latino dance
  • Sabai di mai?everything alright?
  • Sabai dieverything’s fine
  • Sabai, sabaieverything’s fine, fine, please stop speaking Thai because Phom Mai Khau Chai Paasa Thai Krap/Kaa.

The funniest one though is when you ask for directions and distances: Far is Klai; Close is Klai. You’d better fill up the tank than rely on getting this one right.

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn