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This weekend's mission... Read some Thai...

Earlier today my friend A lent me a book. I can't remember the title or the name of the photographer who wrote it (it's upstairs in my room - and I'm too lazy to go up there and get it) but it's really, really good.

I asked him to translate the title for me, as I couldn't read it myself. He couldn't come up with an exact word for word English translation on the spot, but he explained the main idea. The photographer wanted to try and record 'happy feelings of life, before they faded away.'

The book itself is a great snapshot of traditional Thai life. There are images of children jumping into the river, of women in small wooden boats offering alms to monks, of old men sat inside Chinese style shop houses and of alms bowls waiting to be covered in gold leaf. Every shot is in black and white. The atmosphere is very moody and atmospheric.

Some of the images reflect dying traditions and beliefs. Opposite each photo is a short explanation of what the photo, or the tradition or ritual that it symbolises, is.

I've looked through the images in the book three times already. I love them. I sooooo want to understand what they are about. There's only 1 problem. The book's written in Thai.

My Thai isn't that great. I can read letters, even some words, but I always run into problems reading sentences. In Thai, when 2 words are written next to each other, they can be read seperately or combined together. If they are supposed to be combined together, their meaning often changes. When 3 words get stuck together you normally have to work out which of the words are supposed be combined. For instance is it:-

word1 + word2 + word3
words1+2 + word3
Word1 + words2+3 or...
Words1+2+3

Sentences are hard enough. Paragraphs are a nightmare.

English has these great things called spaces. I never really appreciated them until I started trying to learn to read and write in Thai. It's easy to work out where words start and end. You just look for the big white gaps in the text. If you don't know what a word means, it's easy to find it in a dictionary. With Thai, whenever you look a new word up in a dictionary, you normally need to try adding the words in front or after it too, just in case they affect the meaning.

I've nothing much planned this weekend. I want to go and eat pat Thai with my friend B before he goes to the States. I want to go out on my bike. I need to do my Thai homework and tidy my room, but other than that I've not got that much to do.

So my mission (and way of keeping myself away from the pub) for this weekend is as follows... to try and read as much of the book as I can...

I'll be so proud of myself if I suceed, as it will be the 1st Thai book I've ever read all on my own that's actually meant to be for grown ups. I've read some Thai books before, but they're normally less than 16 pages long, and are full of pictures of cartoon animals. They're the kind of books usually aimed at pre-schol kids so, any satisfaction that I get from finishing one is normally accompanied by a feeling of total stupidity. As in.. 'I've been here almost 3 years and it took me 2 hours to read this thing ? ' 'Am I really that dumb?'


It's now just gone 7pm on Friday night. The lobby's nice and quiet. The Californians have gone away for the weekend.The guy who sells coffee's watching Ice Age 2. The cleaners have all gone home.So far, I've managed 5 pages. Strangely enough, the more I'm trying to read, the easier its getting. The guys writing sounds (to a foreigner anyway) very poetic. I'm slowly getting sucked into it, in the same way that I normally get sucked into reading English novels. Its fascinating, so much so, that I want go go back to reading it, instead of writing this. 2 1/2 days still to go. Will let you know how I get on.


Create Date : 30 สิงหาคม 2550
Last Update : 1 กันยายน 2550 13:00:15 น. 0 comments
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kerrie
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กรุงเทพ Thailand

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