Spice up your Holiday with “Pasa Thai”
สวัสดี,(“Hello”) if you’re planning on staying in Thailand for any length of time, you’ll get much more pleasure out of your trip if you can learn a few words of the language. Even if you only manage to grasp a few phrases, that knowledge is sure to transform your Thai experience.
More often than not, Thai people are astounded when a “farang” speaks a few words of the local lingo, and you’ll be showered with praise and cries of “you speak Thai very good!”, while the familiar Thai smile will become wider than ever!
Thai is not so hard to learn either, you just need to appreciate some of the key differences it has from English. There are no plurals or tenses in Thai, so there are no awkward, irregular verbs for you to worry. Just learn a word once, remember it and you’re set!
(“Your holiday in Thailand will be better if you can speak a few Thai words”)
The other big difference is that Thai is a tonal language, and this can cause a few problems for farang. There are five distinct tones in Thai, starting with the low tone, then middle, high, rising and falling tones.
The confusing thing is that there are some words in Thai that have five completely different meanings, depending on how it’s said. For example, the sentence “mai mai mai mai mai” illustrates this perfectly. A rough translation is “New wood does not burn, does it?” While the sentence itself is nonsensical, it allows you to see the significance of the tones and what a headache they can cause!
Before we go, a word about the Thai alphabet, which is one of the most beautiful in the world to look at. Unique to Thai language, it is made up of 44 consonants and 32 vowels and is an image of delight, with its exquisite, rounded characters and graceful loops.
The Thai alphabet derived from ancient Indian script, and was designed by the esteemed King Ramkhamhaeng around 500 years ago, a man who we can guess had a lot of time on his hands!
The great thing about the Thai alphabet is that it’s phonetic, so if you can get your head around each of the characters and remember their sounds you’ll be able to read every Thai word you come across.