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Cat Cartoons Episode 105: 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 ธนบัตร
Narrator: Episode – ‘Ta-na-bat’.

เก้าแต้ม: กระดาษอะไรปลิวมาน่ะสีสวาด
Kao Taem: Si Sawat, what is this piece of paper that has blown over here?

สีสวาด: ใครว่ากระดาษ นี่มันธนบัตรตังหาก(ตะหาก)
Si Sawat: Who says that it is paper? On the contrary, this is a ‘Ta-na-bat’.

เก้าแต้ม: ธนบัตร ฮึ มันคืออะไรอ่ะ
Kao Taem: A ‘ta-na-bat’? Hmmmm. What is it?

วิเชียรมาศ: ธนบัตร หมายถึง บัตรที่รัฐบาลเป็นผู้ทำขึ้นเพื่อให้ใช้เป็นเงินตรา คำๆ นี้เขียน ธ ธง น หนู บ ใบไม้ ไม้หันอากาศ ต เต่า แล้วก็ ร เรือ จ้ะ
Wi-chian maat: ‘Ta-na-bat’-s mean ‘Bat’-s that are issued by the government to be used as money. This word is written ‘Thor thong’, ‘Nor noo’, ‘Bor bai-mai’, ‘Mai han-aa-gat’, ‘Dtor dtao’ and followed by ‘Ror Reua’.

เก้าแต้ม: แต่ชั้น(ฉัน)เคยได้ยินคนเค้า(เขา)เรียกว่า แบงก์ นะ
Kao Taem: But I’ve heard people call it a ‘Baeng’ before, you know?!

สีสวาด: เรียกว่า ธนบัตร หรือ แบงก์ ก็ได้ ถ้าเป็นภาษาทางการเรียกว่า ธนบัตร แต่ถ้าเป็นภาษาพูดเรียกว่า แบงก์ เช่น แบงก์ยี่สิบ แบงก์ร้อย
Si Sawat: It can be called ‘Ta-na-bat’ or ‘Baeng’. In formal language, it’s called ‘Ta-na-bat’ however in colloquial language it’s called ‘Baeng’, for example a ‘Twenty Baht Baeng’ or a ‘One Hundred Baht Baeng’.

เก้าแต้ม: งั้น เลา(เรา)เอาเงินหรือธนบัตรที่เก็บได้ไปซื้อปลากินกันดีกว่า
Kao Taem: In that case, let’s take the money or ‘Ta-na-bat’ that we’ve just picked up and go buy some fish to eat.

ผู้บรรยาย: ธนบัตร หมายถึง เงินที่เป็นกระดาษมีค่า หรือราคาแตกต่างกัน ใช้ชำระหนี้ได้ตามกฎหมาย
Narrator: A ‘Ta-na-bat’ means paper money with different value or denominations which can be used to legally settle debts.

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…

A ‘Ta-na-bat’ (ธนบัตร) is basically the formal word for a banknote.

A ‘Baeng’ (แบงก์) is basically the informal / colloquial word for a banknote. It is an English loanword however instead of borrowing the entire word ‘banknote’, only the first part of the word is borrowed, i.e. ‘bank’.

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 105: 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 104: 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 รังนก
Narrator: Episode – ‘Rang nok’.

เก้าแต้ม: พี่เก่งกับพี่ก้อยเค้า(เขา)กินขนมอะไล(ไร)กันน่ะ
Kao Taem: What candy is Pee Geng and Pee Goi eating?

สีสวาด: กินขนมรังนกจ้ะ
Si Sawat: They’re eating ‘Ka-nom rang nok’.

วิเชียรมาศ: เอ๊ะ รังนก ชั้น(ฉัน)เคยเห็นแบบเป็นขวด แต่ที่พี่เก่งกับพี่ก้อยกินทำไมเป็นเส้นๆ หรือว่าเอารังนกมาจริงๆ มาทำขนม
Wi-chian maat: Whaat?? ‘Rang nok’? I’ve only ever seen it in bottled form but why is the thing that Pee Geng and Pee Goi are eating, in the form of strips? Or was an actual ‘Rang nok’ used to make the candy?

สีสวาด: อ๋อ รังนกที่เป็นขวด เค้า(เขา)เอามาจากน้ำลายของนกนางแอ่นเอามาต้มใส่น้ำตาล ส่วนขนมรังนกเป็นขนมที่ใช้มันเทศหรือเผือกหั่นเป็นเส้นฝอยๆ ทอดสุกคลุกกับน้ำตาลเคี่ยวจัดเป็นกองๆ ดูแล้วคล้ายรังนกจริงๆ จ้ะ
Si Sawat: Ah! The ‘Rang nok’ that is in bottled form is made from boiling the saliva of swiftlets, with sugar added in whereas ‘Ka-nom rang nok’ is a candy made by cutting sweet potato or taro into thin strips, deep frying them in stacks, in hot boiling oil, with sugar mixed in. They really do look like actual ‘Rang nok’-s.

ผู้บรรยาย: รังนก เป็นสิ่งที่นกทำขึ้นเพื่ออยู่อาศัยหรือฟักไข่ เป็นของกินที่เชื่อว่าเป็นของบำรุงร่างกาย และเป็นชื่อขนมชนิดหนึ่งรูปร่างคล้ายกับรังนกที่อยู่บนต้นไม้
Narrator: A ‘Rang nok’ is something that birds build to live or for laying eggs in, is something that you eat which is believed to have health benefits and is the name of a type of candy with an appearance resembling the ‘Rang nok’-s found in trees.

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…

‘Rang’ (รัง) basically means ‘(a) nest’ and ‘Nok’ (นก) means ‘(a) bird’. So ‘Rang nok’ (รังนก) literally means ‘(a) bird’s nest’.

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 104: 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): Deluxe

Andrew Biggs

Does this happen to you, too?

In Thailand, do you suddenly find yourself in situations where you think – why? Why is this happening to me?

I just ordered a pizza. Actually it was three, and no, it’s not because I’m prepping for that new Thai TV show that started last night called, of all things, “Dance Your Fat Off.”

(Haven’t seen it yet but loved the pre-publicity: “Fat people take to dancing to lose weight. Each week, the person who’s lost the least amount of weight gets booted off.” Looks to me like the bastard, sadly-deformed-at-birth child of “Dancing With The Stars” and “The Biggest Loser.” Expect a column out of it when I do get to see it.)

No, I had my staff over for our annual beginning-of-the-year meeting. I called it our “2013 Vision” meeting, or “Wi-chun” meeting as my graphic artist kept calling it, which is ironic since his name is “Wi-chien”.

Anyway in my generosity I ordered pizza for lunch on the strict proviso all my staff obeyed my every command for the rest of the year.

Ordering a pizza over the phone is something I haven’t done in ages. This is the conversation that took place in the Thai language.

“Hello Khun Suthon, may I take your order?” the sweet voice answered and enquired.

“I’m not Suthon,” I said.

“You’re not Khun Suthon … hmmmm. According to our records, this cellphone number belongs to Khun Suthon.”

Oh my goodness. I remembered.

Some years ago, the very first time I ordered a pizza in this country, I was required to give all my personal details.

The memory is hazy, but I do recall being on the phone for the time it would take to deliver a pizza to Pattaya, answering all manner of personal details such as my marital status, age, weight, favored position, income and body type.

In that way, I was told, every time I called after that my order would be processed far more conveniently. It had nothing to do with the pizza company’s ability to sell that information to some evil telemarketing company. Of course not. In my ignorance I relented.

That day I wasn’t only wallowing in ignorance. My memory was hazy because I was also wallowing in the effects of one too many Absolut Vanilla screwdrivers so I gave a fake name. Suthon Jaidee.

Ah, the hilarious things we do while under the influence.

“Wait!” I replied. “I remember now. I am Suthon. That’s me. Khun Suthon.”

Silence.

“No, really, I am,” I said quickly changing the subject. “And I want to order three pizzas.”

“Which toppings would you like, Khun Suthon?” she asked in a tone of voice suggesting she didn’t believe in ghosts or UFOs.

“One ham and pineapple, one spicy chicken, and one deluxe.”

“One ham and pineapple, one spicy chicken, and one de-look” (เดอลุกซ์).

“No,” I said. “Not de-look.”

It was at that moment I could feel myself saddling up my high horse. Funny how that equestrian always rears its ugly head in such situations.

“De-LUX.” I added. “It’s de-LUX. Like the soap.”

“So … you want to cancel the de-look?”

Now I was in trouble.

“No! No. I don’t want to cancel it.”

“You said ‘no de-look’.”

“No I didn’t.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t understand you, Khun Suthon. You want three pizzas, and the last one is a de-look.”

“The last one is a deluxe,” I replied. “We don’t call it a de-look. You Thais made that pronunciation up yourself.”

“Oh … you are not a Thai, Khun Suthon?”

Man, was I digging myself a hole.

“Well no, but my name is Thai. I, er, grew up overseas. I’m a displaced orphan from the Vietnam war era.”

Silence.

“That was a joke,” I said.

“Repeating your order: one ham and pineapple, one spicy chicken, and one de-look.”

She paused.

“Correct?” she asked, saying it as if she was plunging a spear into my chest.

Correct? Correct? How could I say yes to that, dear reader? I’m a linguist, dammit … how can I say that the word “deluxe”, when pronounced de-look, is correct?

There was something definitely evil, almost dominatrix-like, going on here. That pizza operator was playing head games with me, I know. (And of course, by using the name Suthon, I wasn’t playing head games with her, was I?).

I have asked this question before in this column but I will ask it again — Why is it that perfectly good English words get ripped to shreds when pronounced in Thai, especially on days when I haven’t had a good night’s sleep?

I can handle the omission of that final “s” because the Thai language doesn’t have such words. But why do we change a perfectly good vowel sound like “u” as in “but” or “cut” into the more flimsy pathetic “oo” sound of “look” or “cook”?

Isn’t it funny how we all have our pet peeves? I can’t stand any shop assistant who announces: “No have.” My friend Stuart nearly pees his pants if somebody says “Same same.”

Meanwhile Eilat has Siamese kittens when she hears “I no like,” and Craig goes ape-fecal over the pronunciation of “buffet” as “boof-fay” (บุฟเฟ่ต์).

And me? I’m a “de-look” kinda guy.

“Can I just say something here?” I said by way of answering this clearly manipulative, but clever, pizza operator.

“I just want to say that in English, it’s pronounced de-LUX, not de-look as you say it. Remember that. And tell your friends.”

“But we’re not speaking English, Khun Suthon.”

Oh my god.

She got me.

She’s right.

The word “deluxe” has its origins in French, meaning “of luxury”. And, of course, the French pronounce it similar to the way the Thais do, only a little more condescendingly.

Since when has it been stated that when speaking Thai, all foreign words must be pronounced as they are in English?

Was I just smarting because the Thais have favored the French over the English pronunciation?

I have nothing against the French, though they clearly have something against the British. When last in Paris the most valuable sentence I learned was “Je suis un Australien” so they would at least be nice to me – despite, at that time, Australia’s very vocal damning of French nuclear testing in the Pacific.

There are all sorts of words used in Thai that take the French pronunciation. Little nibblies are or-derf (ออเดิฟ), coffee is gar-fair (กาแฟ) and the word for France itself is farang-set (ฝรั่งเศส) which sounds to me like it comes from the French way of saying France with an emphasis on the last sound.

None of these bother me. So why be bothered with de-look? Or boo-fay for that matter, Craig?

Face it, Andrew. You just lost a linguistic battle to a pizza operator.

“Yes all right,” I said, feeling sick. “The … de-look … pizza.”

Kha” (ค่ะ), she answered. I could hear her troops’ hoots of victory from the front line as she spoke.

Two days later I was checking into a hotel in Suphan Buri to give a speech. As the bell boy carried my bag to the room, I was told: “You have been upgraded. To a hong soot” (ห้องชุด).

Oh god.

That’s another one.

A suite is a soot (ชุด) in Thai, rhyming with “suit”, another bastardization that gets my goat.

We can’t even blame the French for that one – where did that one come from? And why does that immediately incur my wrath?

“Air conditioning is here, and the light switch is over there,” the friendly hotel staffer told me once inside the room. “Would you like to order room service?”

“Certainly not a pizza,” I said.

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Cat Cartoons Episode 103: 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 หมอ
Narrator: Episode – ‘Mor’.

เก้าแต้ม: เมื่อกี้เห็นคุณพ่อขับรถพาพี่เก่งออกจากบ้าน เย็นแล้วไม่รู้ไปไหนกันเนาะ
Kao Taem: Just now I saw Dad taking Pee Geng out somewhere by car. It’s already evening, I have no idea where they went.

สีสวาด: พี่เก่งเค้า(เขา)ปวดฟันน่ะ คุณพ่อก็เลยพาไปหาหมอฟัน
Si Sawat: Pee Geng has a toothache, so Dad took him to the ‘Mor fan’

เก้าแต้ม: หมอฟันเนี่ยะ(นี่อ่ะ) เค้า(เขา)รักษาฟันใช่ม้า(ไหม)
Kao Taem: This ‘Mor fan’ person, he provides treatment for teeth, right?

สีสวาด: ก็ใช่นะซิ(สิ)
Si Sawat: That’s right!

เก้าแต้ม: ถ้าหยั่งงั้น(อย่างนั้น) หมอผีที่เห็นในทีวี(โทรทัศน์)ก็ต้องมีหน้าที่รักษาผีอ่ะสินะ
Kao Taem: If that’s the case, the job of a ‘Mor pee’, the one you would see on TV (television), must be to provide treatment for ‘Pee’-s. Right?

สีสวาด: ผีที่ไหนจะป่วยจนต้องรักษา คำว่า หมอ น่ะ นอกจากจะหมายถึง ผู้ตรวจรักษาโรค เช่น หมอฟัน หมอเด็กแล้ว ยังหมายถึง ผู้รู้ ผู้ชำนาญด้วย อย่าง หมอผี น่ะ ก็หมายถึง ผู้ที่เชื่อกันว่ามีอำนาจเลี้ยง ควบคุม ใช้งาน และปราบผีได้จ้ะ ไม่ใช่หมอรักษาผี
Si Sawat: There are no ‘Pee’-s that will fall sick and require treatment! The word ‘Mor’ does not only mean ‘(a) person who treats diseases’, for example ‘Mor fan’ and ‘Mor dek’. It can also mean ‘(a) person who knows a lot about a particular thing or an expert’, for example ‘Mor pee’, which means a person who is believed to possess the power to keep, control, exploit and exorcize ‘Pee’-s, and not a ‘Mor’ who treats ‘Pee’-s.

เก้าแต้ม: อ๋อ หยังงี้(อย่างนี้)นี่เอง เหมียว
Kao Taem: Aah! I see! Meow!

ผู้บรรยาย: หมอ นอกจากจะหมายถึง ผู้ตรวจรักษาโรค เช่น หมอฟัน หมอเด็กแล้ว ยังหมายถึง ผู้รู้ ผู้ชำนาญ เช่น หมองู หมอนวด หมอผี
Narrator: ‘Mor’ not only means a person who treats diseases, for example ‘Mor fan’ and ‘Mor dek’, it also means a guru or an expert, for example ‘Mor ngoo’, ‘Mor nuat’ and ‘Mor pee’.

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…

‘Mor’ (หมอ) is a semi-formal word, meaning ‘(a) doctor’. ‘Mor fan’ (หมอฟัน) basically means ‘(a) dentist’ (literally a ‘teeth doctor’). ‘Mor dek’ (หมอเด็ก) basically means ‘(a) pediatrician’ (literally a ‘children doctor’).

‘Pee’ (ผี) basically means ‘(a) spirit or ghost’ however ‘Mor pee’ means ‘(a) shaman’. ‘Mor ngoo’ (หมองู) basically means ‘(a) snake charmer’. ‘Mor nuat’ means ‘(a) masseuse’.

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 103: 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): Fetmot

Andrew Biggs

Too much fetmot and you’re det-sa-mole-ay

I am munching on a delicious fetmot as I write this column, and –

I’m sorry, what was that? You don’t know what a ‘fetmot’ is? Come on. How long have you been in this country?

I was reminded of fetmot this week as I made one of my infrequent visits to Emporium, where I used to work. Ah, Emporium. Wasn’t that an exciting place to work for a while? Anytime you had a dull patch at work you could catch the lift down to the airy, khunying (คุณหญิง) infested walkways and escalators and pop into shops like Giorgio Armani to check out the latest overpriced shirts from Italy, making a mental note of their designs in order to pick up an identical one for one-twentieth the price at Chatuchak that coming weekend.

And the food! Cuisines from around the world, including my favorite, fetmot, which I purchased whenever I was in a rush and had no time to assume my faux hi-so persona.

Yes I will get to its meaning in a moment, but isn’t Thai a wonderful language? Since its inception – if a language can indeed incept – it has borrowed liberally from other sources, such as Chinese, Cambodian, Portuguese, Hindi and English. One simple Thai sentence these days is like falling into an atlas. But for me, one of the more interesting aspects of the language is how English words get picked up and used within the context of Thai.

We farangs often get hot under our western collars at the way Thais mispronounce even the simplest of English words, but there is often a good reason. Some sounds in English simply don’t exist in Thai, and vice versa. For this reason, English words get moulded into a new form within the context of Thai.

And English words enter and leave the Thai language quicker than smelly English teachers restamping their tourist visas in Hat Yai. Ten years ago the country fell into crisis and suddenly every Thai knew what “IM-Ebb” was. (It was IMF, but Thais don’t have an F sound at the end of their words.) I remember being a little surprised by the first Thai who shoved a plate of food in front of me and said: “Or Derb” (ออเดิป). Of course, he was saying “hors d’oeuvres” which has sneaked its way into the Thai language. Of course he was. But before you snigger at the crazy pronunciation, peer into the gaping chasm that lies between the way we westerners pronounce this word and the ludicrous way it is spelt, thanks to its shameful French origins.

In more recent times a verb has entered the Thai language which means “to stand up and make a speech in public”. This verb is to “hye-bark” (ไฮป๊าร์ค). Can you guess where this verb comes from? A hint: It’s not even a verb in English. It’s a place.

The answer is “Hyde Park”. In Thai, “to Hyde Park” means to get on your soapbox and make a protest speech. If you asked 100 Thais where Hyde Park is situated, you’d have a handful who could tell you. But they’d all know the verb. For example: “He will Hyde Park tonight at Sanam Luang.” “Do you know who will be Hyde Parking today?”

(I figure the past tense would not be an irregular verb … or would it? “Last night I Hyde Pack outside Parliament.” “I’ve Hyde Puck so many times I’ve lost my voice.”)

If you think that’s ludicrous, I have an even better one for you.

One slang word for “dead” in Thai sounds like this: “Det-sa-mole-ay.” For example: “I think Somchai will be det-sa-mole-ay if he doesn’t pay his debts.” “If that fat guy with the Jatukarm Ramatep amulet around his bulbous neck doesn’t stop hogging the karaoke microphone, he’ll be det-sa-mole-ay before midnight.”

I would like you now to put down your copy of Brunch and say that word out loud. “Det-sa-mole-ay” (เด็ดสะมอเร่). Sound familiar?

It should. It’s an English word. Or rather, the name of an English song. In Italian. Back in 1954 Dean Martin scored a #1 hit with a song called “That’s Amore.” “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore …”

How … the … hell … does … a cheesy English song … from 50 years ago … become a Thai adjective …. for “dead”?? Somewhere along the line, a Thai decided “dead” sounded like “That’s amore” and used the title of this song in its place. As crazy as it sounds, he or she was right – with the first syllable anyway. That’s why the title of a hideous old love song by a det-sa-mole-ay singer means “deceased” in Thai.

Sometimes I wonder why. I remember when the first taxi hit the Bangkok traffic with the plastic TAXI METER sign screaming for attention from the roof. Was it so difficult not to have written METERED TAXI? The same goes for those ubiquitous BAR BEERS in places like Chiang Mai and Pattaya, where westerners way past their use-by dates empty their hearts along with, ultimately, the contents of their fake leather wallets to girls one-third their age. It wouldn’t have taken much to have called them BEER BARS like the rest of the world does. Or am I just being bitter and twisted?

I love the Thai language and the way English words enter it. But pity the intrepid English word that ventures its way into the labyrinth that is the Thai language. By the time it has passed through all the twists and turns, it emerges a shadow of its former self.

Like “fetmot” (เฟดมาด). And what, pray tell, did it start out as? Why, “Fresh Mozzarella Tomatoes And Pesto Sandwich”, a popular choice at any Au Bon Pain shop. Only it’s shortened by the delightful Thai staff to “Fresh Mozarella,” then “Fresh Mot”, then “Fetmot”, then …

… Fot? Only time, dear reader. Only time.

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Cat Cartoons Episode 102: 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 กรวดน้ำ
Narrator: Episode – ‘Gruat naam’.

ก้อย: วันนี้ก้อยช่วยคุณแม่เตรียมของตักบาตรด้วยน้า(นะ)พี่เก่ง
Goi: Pee Geng! Today I helped Mum prepare for ‘Dtak baat’, you know?!

เก่ง: ดีจังเลย พี่ตื่นช้าไปนิด ตั้งใจจะช่วยคุณแม่ด้วย เลยไม่ทันเลย
Geng: That’s great! I wanted to help Mum too but I woke up a bit late so I couldn’t make it in time.

ก้อย: พระมาแล้วๆ
Goi: The monk is here! The monk is here!

เก่ง: นิมนต์ครับท่าน
Geng: ‘Ni-mon’, Father.

เก่ง: ก้อย มากรวดน้ำกัน
Geng: Goi! Let’s ‘Gruat naam’ together.

วิเชียรมาศ: พี่เก่งพี่ก้อยเค้า(เขา)เทน้ำทิ้งทำไมน่ะ
Wi-chian maat: Why are Pee Geng and Pee Goi pouring away the water?

สีสวาด: ไม่ได้เทน้ำทิ้ง เค้า(เขา)เรียกว่า กรวดน้ำจ้ะ เป็นการเทน้ำลงดินเพื่อให้แม่พระธรณีนำกุศลผลบุญนี้ไปสู่ผู้ที่ล่วงลับไปแล้ว
Si Sawat: They’re not just pouring the water away. People call it a ‘Gruat naam’ (กรวดน้ำ) ritual. It’s the pouring of (ceremonial) water on the ground so that Mother Earth will transfer merit to the spirits of the deceased.

ผู้บรรยาย: กรวดน้ำ คือ การแผ่ส่วนบุญที่ได้ทำไปด้วยวิธีหลั่งน้ำลงดิน
Narrator: ‘Gruat naam’ (กรวดน้ำ) is the giving away of the merit that is derived from the libation.

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…

‘Gruat naam’ (กรวดน้ำ) means ‘(to) pour ceremonial water’ (basically a libation).

‘Dtak baat’ (ตักบาตร) basically means to give alms to monks (by literally putting offerings into a monk’s bowl).

‘Ni-mon’ (นิมนต์) is basically an invitation given to a monk.

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 102: 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 101: 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 กุฏิ
Narrator: Episode – ‘Gu-dti’.

สีสวาด: นานๆ มาเดินเล่นในวัดที รู้สึกสบายใจดีนะ
Si Sawat: It’s been quite a while since I’ve been here, so I feel happy and glad that I’m here now taking a leisurely walk around the temple.

วิเชียรมาศ: อื้ม ชั้น(ฉัน)ก็รู้สึกเหมือนกันเลย
Wi-chian maat: Yup, I feel the exact same way.

วิเชียรมาศ: พระท่านขยันจัง กวาดวัดสะอาดเชียว สีสวาดดูบ้านหลังเล็กๆ นี้สิ น่ารักดีน้า(นะ) เป็นบ้านของใครหลอ(หรือ) มีตั้งหลายหลังแน่ะ
Wi-chian maat: The monks are very hardworking, sweeping the temple so clean. Si Sawat, look at these little houses. There’re really quaint. Whose houses are they? There’re so many of them.

สีสวาด: อ๋อ เป็นที่อยู่ของพระภิกษุสามเณรน่ะ ที่อาศัยของพระเณรเค้า(เขา)ไม่เรียกว่าบ้านหรอก เค้า(เขา)เรียกว่า กุฏิ
Si Sawat: Ah! They’re the living quarters of the monks and novice monks. The place where monks and novice monks stay are not called houses but ‘Gu-dti’ instead.

ผู้บรรยาย: กุฏิ เขียน ก ไก่ สระอุ ฏ ปฏัก สระอิ คือ เรือนหรือตึกสำหรับพระภิกษุสามเณรอยู่ นิยมอ่านว่า กุ–ติ
Narrator: ‘Gu-dti’: spelled ‘Gor-gai’, ‘Sa-ra u’, ‘Dtor bpa-dtak’, and ‘Sa-ra i’, is a house or building for monks and novice monks to stay in, and the favored way of reading it is as ‘Gu-dti’.

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 101: 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): Expensive

Andrew Biggs

I needed a new door for my bathroom, so I walked down to the end of my soi where there is a giant wood factory.

Yes, I know; I choose the most salubrious of neighborhoods. Making my way through piles of woodchips and sleeping underpaid Cambodian labor, I met the owner who showed me a catalogue. I picked one door at a price of 2,500 Baht.

This is where the story should have ended, only to be filed away for eternity in that folder of life’s forgotten chores, except for one thing.

I opened my big mouth.

When I returned home, waiting outside my house was my old friend Daeng and his sour-faced wife.

“How much are you paying for the door?” he asked when I told him where I’d just been.

“2,500 Baht,” I answered.

Daeng’s eyes widened, then darkened. His face contorted.

Paenggggggg!” (แพง) he exclaimed.

“Kha” (ค่ะ), his wife reiterated. “Paenggggggg.

Thailand is one of the cheapest countries on earth. Food is cheap. Cabs are cheap.

Dental work? Cosmetic surgery? We’re a hub. On any given day the wards of Bamrungrat are littered with the world’s foreign princes and princesses desperate to reverse the onslaught of inbreeding.

We had a slight economic blip recently when the basic wage for Bangkok workers rose — rose — to the equivalent of just under 10 American dollars per 12 hours of work.

Despite all this, the locals remain convinced that every purchase they ever make is expensive.

Nothing gets a lower-middle class Thai more excited than hearing that something is expensive, and Daeng is definitely lower-middle class. I suspect that by marrying what’s-her-name, he managed to drag her up to that social rung as well.

The word for “expensive” in Thai is paeng, which rhymes with gang (or bang, come of think of it). Normally a Thai is very polite when speaking. The Chinese may spit and talk at decibel levels found around Suvarnabhumi, but the Thais are way more civilized.

Put a price tag in front of them, however, and watch them gasp. Wide-eyed. Open mouthed.

Paenggggggg!”

Daeng doesn’t get very excited over much, nor his wife whose mouth is a permanent upside-down U shape, except when hubby asks the price of something.

Daeng leant forward and tapped my knee. “My cousin has a wood factory,” he said. “He can sell you a cheaper door. We can go visit him. Just have a look. You don’t have to buy.”

“No really, it’s –“

“I’ll be around at 10 am tomorrow,” he said.

The next day he was on time, arriving at 11 am with his wife in sullen tow.

“We’ll take your car,” he announced, as if he had a say in it. Out on Srinakharin Road, Daeng said: “Take the expressway.”

“To … where?”

“Nonthaburi.”

“Nonthaburi!??!”

“It’s Saturday. The traffic won’t be that bad.”

Daeng’s life has been a series of serious miscalculations, starting with his betrothal, and passing through numerous odd jobs. He fixed air conditioners; then he had his own van for hire business. Each new enterprise lasted no more than a year – was it because his wife kept answering the phones?

Another of his serious miscalculations was the traffic to Nonthaburi that Saturday morning.

With half my gas tank spent we arrived at Bang Khu Rat, Nonthaburi, around 1 pm. Lunchtime, as Daeng’s wife kept reminding us, repeating “hew” (หิว) throughout the journey.

I foolishly asked what she wanted to eat, and she replied duck, so another half an hour was spent circling Nonthaburi looking for a duck restaurant.

Amazingly we found one, where Daeng’s wife ordered the most expensive duck on the menu while Daeng ordered a few bottles of Heineken. I was driving, I announced, so I ordered an orange juice, resting the glass on the chair beside me and my hip flask.

Not even a spiked orange juice could quell the resentment of having to spend an hour at Nonthaburi’s Most Expensive Duck Restaurant, the cuisine not even being able to upend the upside-down U on the wife’s face.

When the bill came, I paid for it, as a show of thanks for Daeng going out of his way to take me out of my way.

Then, in the restaurant carpark, an unforeseen event.

Blame it on the idiot carpark attendant with the whistle. Blame it on my short temper for being on the wrong side of Bangkok without dark glasses and a fake beard. As I reversed out of my space, I clipped the side of a pick-up truck parked next door.

“Oo-ee!” (โอ๊ย) cried Daeng’s wife from the back seat, as the upended U morphed into an O.

The dent was tiny and almost unrecognizable, and would probably cost about 2,000 Baht to fix according to the vehicle’s owner. I handed over 2,000 Baht to end it right there.

What a mistake that was.

Paeng,” hissed Daeng as we got back in the car.

“Kha!” his wife added. “Paenggggggg!

It was a small price to pay for the dent but I was howled down by Daeng while his wife gave me the evil eye. What hope did I have against a millennium-old culture that screeches paeng at the mere sight of a price tag?

Soon we arrived at Daeng’s cousin’s wood factory, way smaller than the one at the end of my soi.

Daeng’s cousin, Ko, showed me his scant collection of wooden doors – they were hideous, dear reader, all woodchip and plastic.

I stood there, flanked by eager Ko and Daeng, nodding and praising the beauty of a pink fake-wooden door resting in cobwebs against the back of his mini-factory, in some godforsaken soi in the backstreets of Nonthaburi.

“Special price for you,” Ko announced. “2,300 Baht!”

“How about a discount?” Daeng asked. “Andrew’s been my good friend for five years, ever since I got out of Bang Kwang.”

Ko rubbed his chin. “Okay! Two thousand baht!”

“Can you install it for me too?” I asked, and Ko said of course he could, for a small fee.

I said okay. There was no other way to answer without all of us losing face.

The next day some worker who spoke broken Thai turned up with a door, the type one would normally see in brothels and gas station bathrooms. He managed to get the door on some hinges and, if you lifted it slightly as you slammed it shut, it stayed closed.

Ko added an extra 300 Baht for the installation and travel costs. When I calculated everything, including my own gas and toll fees (300 Baht), the duck lunch (1,200 Baht) and the crash (2,000), that door cost me 5,800 Baht.

Paenggggggg.

Daeng disappeared after that, as lower-middle class friends do, and turned up the following year with a new business transporting Japanese tourists to golf courses.

He had ditched his wife, too. He had a new one now; a younger hairdresser who was much prettier than the first, though just as dour and perhaps more demanding.

“I remember that door,” said Daeng proudly as he settled into his second Heineken. He turned to his new wife. “I saved Andrew a lot of money on that door. At first he was going to buy one for way too much – three thousand? Four thousand?“

The new wife gasped.

Paenggggg,” she announced.

“But in the end I helped him out. Took him to my cousin who only charged him one or two thousand. Right Andrew?”

“Right,” I said.

Daeng peered at the door a little more closely. “It looks different. Did you paint it?”

Paenggggg,” repeated his wife, in case I didn’t hear her the first time.

I never told Daeng the truth; that the week after we visited Ko I walked down to the end of my soi and ordered a teak door from the local factory. It cost me 3,000 Baht, including installation, which means in the space of a month I’d outlayed 8,800 for a door.

But that is the price I paid for opening my big mouth.

I did learn a valuable lesson about living in Thailand; when a Thai asks you how much you paid for something, just halve what you really paid and tell them that.
It doesn’t have any effect. It’s still paengggg.

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Cat Cartoons Episode One Hundred: 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 คำที่ใช้ ขิงก็ราข่าก็แรง
Narrator: Episode – ‘[]’

เก่ง: วันเนียะ(นี้อ่ะ)ข้างบ้านเค้า(เขา)ทะเลาะกัน พ่อบอกว่า พอกันทั้งคู่ ขิงก็ราข่าก็แรง
Geng: Today, our neighbors got into a fight. Dad said that both parties were the same: ‘King gor raa, kaa gor raeng’.

ก้อย: เค้า(เขา)ทะเลาะเรื่องอะไรล่ะ
Goi: What were they fighting about?

เก่ง: ก็แค่กิ่งไม้บ้านนึง(หนึ่ง)ล้ำเข้าไปอีกบ้านนึง(หนึ่ง)
Geng: It was about the tree branch of one house encroaching onto the land of another house.

ก้อย: แล้วยังไงล่ะ
Goi: So what of it?

เก่ง: บ้านที่กิ่งไม้ล้ำเข้าไปบอกว่า ถ้าไม่ตัด เดี๋ยวเค้า(เขา)จะตัดเอง เจ้าของต้นไม้เค้า(เขา)บอกว่า ก็ลองตัดซี่(สิ) มีเรื่องแน่
Geng: The owner of the land that the branch encroached on, said that if it is not cut, then he will cut it himself. The owner of the tree said to go ahead and try and cut it. There’ll be hell to pay!

ก้อย: ต้นไม้ของเค้า(เขา) เค้า(เขา)ก็ต้องตัดไม่ให้ไปรกบ้านคนอื่นสิ
Goi: It’s his tree. He must cut it (the branch) and not let it mess up other people’s houses.

เก่ง: เออ เฮอะๆ (เสียงหัวเราะ) ใช่ ต่างฝ่ายต่างไม่ยอมพูดกันดีๆ จะต่อยกัน เห็นคนแถวเนียะ(นี้อ่ะ)ออกมาดูกันเต็มเลย แต่ไม่เห็นใครห้ามซัก(สัก)คน
Geng: Tee hee (sound of laughter)! Indeed! Both parties were not willing to talk nicely and wanted to get into a fist fight. The people around here came out and formed a big crowd to watch but I didn’t see anyone trying to stop or beak up the fight.

ก้อย: มิน่าหล่ะ พ่อถึงบอกว่า ขิงก็ราข่าก็แรง
Goi: It’s no wonder that Dad said, ‘King gor raa, kaa gor raeng’.

เก่ง: ก็นั่นน่ะซี(สิ) อารมณ์ร้อนทั้งคู่ แย่จัง โลกร้อน ผู้ใหญ่ก็เลยใจร้อน
Geng: That’s just it! There were heated emotions on both sides. It was terrible! The world is heating up (global warming), so grown-ups are getting really heated up (angry).

ก้อย: พี่เก่ง อย่าว่าผู้ใหญ่ ไม่ดีนะ
Goi: Pee Geng. Don’t criticize grown-ups! It’s not good, OK?!

ผู้บรรยาย: ขิงก็ราข่าก็แรง เป็นสำนวนหมายถึง ร้ายพอกัน หรือต่างฝ่ายต่างไม่ยอมลดละให้กัน
Narrator: ‘King gor raa, kaa gor raeng’ is a saying which means that both parties are equally belligerent or neither party is willing to back down nor give way.

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 One Hundred: 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): Adjectives

Andrew Biggs

Wendy’s gaze was steely and determined.

“You need to cut down on your use of adjectives,” she said, looking in this direction with eyebrows arched. “It’s lazy writing.”

Surely, she’s not referring to …? Oh God. She is.

Last weekend your columnist attended a writer’s workshop in Bangkok where my overuse of adjectives was laid bare before a group of aspiring writers. Now it’s understood how it feels to walk naked down Silom Road.

“Not only that, when you write in first person as you do, Andrew, try writing without using the words ‘I’ and ‘me’,” Wendy continued, unabashed. “It makes you a much better writer.”

A much better writer? The humiliation of it all.

Such criticism may be a little hard for you to believe, considering the grammatically-faultless second-to-none writing style found here on an unrelenting weekly basis. But the fact so many adjectives and adjectival phrases can be crammed into a single sentence like the one you just read – “grammatically-faultless”, “second-to-none”, “unrelenting” – does show my writing is in desperate need of a tune-up.

Thus your faithful and diligent correspondent spent an enjoyable weekend at the chic inner-city Siam@Siam Hotel … no, no, wait a minute, stop right there. Can I start that again without all the adjectives?

Thus your correspondent spent a weekend at a hotel being told he needed to cut down on his flagrant use of adjectives. Not completely annihilate them, mind you (an occasional “flagrant” is fine) but cut them down all the same.

Such were the sage words from Wendy, a New York Times bestselling author, whose advice was as valuable as it was cutting — at least when it came to adjectives. It was an exhilarating weekend, in which ten aspiring writers undertook various writing exercises. All the while, Wendy hovered like the Angel of Semantic Death, ready to cut a swathe through any adjectives that thought to cluster in her path.

How dare she! Imagine a world without adjectives … but indeed, this is the world where the best writers exist.

There was a time, a few decades ago, when my writing was indeed slim and dry. Over the years something changed, and the blame must be placed squarely on Thailand’s shoulders.

Like so many other elite Bangkok Post columnists, (“Ditch the ‘elite’!” Wendy would surely chastise upon hearing that) it was assumed my writing was perfect with no possible room for improvement. Hemingway, Salinger, Biggs … these names roll off the tongue with frightening ease.

Just kidding … there’s no delusional thought going on here. It’s like mentioning Gershwin, Bacharach and Billy Ray Cyrus in the same breath. The writing in this column is far removed from Ernest or J.D. since they knew the magic rule of “showing” rather than “telling”.

That was common knowledge to a former newspaper reporter like myself. So what happened? Where did those wheelbarrows of descriptive words that litter the construction site of my literary output come from?

There was never an opportunity to explain to Wendy that it’s a cultural thing, a direct result of living in the Land Of Smiles for two decades.

The Thai language is far more ingratiating than English. Translation work falls onto my desk regularly, such as invitations to events or advertising copy. Take this gold-embossed invitation card that had to be translated into English exactly three days before going to Wendy’s writer’s retreat, which in Thai went something like this:

“It would be the greatest honor bestowed upon us, and indeed would increase the dignity of our prestigious event, if you could graciously sacrifice your precious time to attend the auspicious grand opening of our new branch on Asoke Road this Monday, January 30th, 2011, the Year of the Rabbit. If you assent, which would be our greatest happiness, please inform Khun Art on the following telephone number (cell phone)” 08-xxx-xxxx.”

Tears well up in both eyes just reading this. It works beautifully in Thai; it is majestic and deferential and gives the recipient a warm tingle in his loins. This is the way the Thai language is; over-polite and unashamedly setting out to flatter the recipient.

The Thai culture, too, is all about prostrating yourself before those in a higher place than you, whether it be because of age, knowledge, or in the case of politicians, how much public money they’ve siphoned off into their private bank accounts to fund their gold Mercedes and Khao Yai holiday home.

The language reflects this. And adjectives are like strong kneecaps – helping you get into the prostrate position with ease.

This is evident in newspaper ads for condo complexes, the likes of which we discussed last week in this column. “Experience the pristine tranquility of idyllic living beside a peaceful sky-blue lake as you awaken joyously in your glamorous, fashionable condo.” It works fine in the Thai translation but in English that sentence needs to go on Atkins, and fast.

Back when Siam Paragon first opened its doors this shopping mall described itself on ubiquitous billboards as “The Glorious Phenomenon!” Besides being a great lesson in tautology, describing a shopping mall in such a way is just a leeeetle over the top, wouldn’t you say? It is indeed a lovely place, and phenomena do exist there from time to time, like the idiots who stood in line for hours to buy doughnuts.

My first visit there ended up with getting lost and having to ask a toothy security guard for the exit; he flashed those teeth with his Isan smile, shrugged his shoulders and said “Mai roo” (ไม่รู้). There’s nothing glorious about that situation (unless you’re a dentist looking for new patients) and the only phenomenon was the absence of exit signs.

Despite all this, “The Glorious Phenomenon!” does work within the context of Thai. It’s beyond imagining how many kittens Wendy would give birth to if she were fluent in the language, but she is right. Good writing in English requires adjectival sacrifice. Thus when faced with a paragraph so plump with padding it reminds me of seating at a Weight Watchers Anonymous meeting, out comes the axe.

“You are invited to attend the grand opening of our new branch on Asoke Road this Monday, January 30th. RSVP 08-xxx-xxxx.” Such was the translation sent back to Khun Art.

Khun Art’s mouth dropped to the floor. “This is a joke, right?” she said, letting out a nervous giggle over the phone. “You can’t write like that in Thailand!” It took 15 minutes to explain that it wasn’t a joke, and that while in Thai such language as in the original is fine, in English it was richer than a slice of banoffi pie at Anna’s Café.

So you can see that the “kill the adjective” stance taken by Wendy is still inherent and deep down within your columnist. But Wendy … dear, dear Wendy … this is Thailand! We love adjectives! Local copy writers are not aspiring to literary greatness – they just want to sell condos!

Oh, nearly forgot … this first person narrative business.

Wendy claims that dispensing with “I” and “me” in first-person narratives such as this column makes the reader feel closer to the action, and closer to the writer himself.

It’s not evident how close you wish to get, dear reader, but did you notice? For the first time ever, this entire column was written without my using a single “I” or “me”.

I am very proud of myself. Damn! Foiled by this final paragraph!

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