Why I will never understand Thai...
I've been trying to learn Thai for around 2 1/2 years now.
Somedays I think I do OK. I can chat to the woman who sells me my morning curry, get to and from school, have basic conversations with the people who work, or live in the same building as I do, answer the phone and even manage to watch news stories and gameshows on TV.
Other days I'm hopeless. I can't even string a sentence together.
Somedays I waver between both. On Thursday night I went to see a movie with a friend. It was a Thai movie, with English subtitles but I did my best to try and listen to what the characters were saying rather than read the English at the bottom. I managed to understand around 40% of it, without needing to read the subtitles. That might sound a bit crap, but I was quite proud of myself. It was hard to follow, and for a movie where people talk quite quickly, I thought I did OK.
Afterwards we started talking about the movie and went to get something to eat. I'd just listened to around an hour and a half of Thai. I should be able to speak it, shouldn't I ??? I don't know why but I couldn't at all. Almost every time I opened my mouth an English sentence came spewing out.
I always complain to my Thai friends that I never have much chance to practise my Thai anymore. At school I only ever hear / speak English. Thai friends where I live normally talk to me because they want to practise their English. They don't particularly want to listen to my crap Thai.
So, I'm sat with a Thai guy who's English is pretty good. He's a bit shy and hesitant when it comes to speaking though. He'd much rather speak Thai. Perfect! I've known him for almost 3 years. He's an old workmate and a friend. He can understand my screwey pronunciation. It should be easy, right? Wrong. I couldn't speak any Thai at all. I don't know why but almost everything I said was in English.
It must have sounded quite funny. He spoke Thai. I replied in English. I so wanted to be able to speak, but I just couldn't. This happens a lot. It's like my brain has gone into Thai langauge overload and can't take any more...
It was late. It was almost 11pm when the movie finished, but I know that's a poor excuse. If you want to be able to speak another language you need to be able to think, and speak it 24/7. Not just when you're in the right mood.
Regardless of whether I'm having a 'can speak OK today' day or not, there's another thing that makes it hard for foreigners to learn Thai.
Supposing I spoke the most fantastic Thai ever in the whole world...
Pitch perfect pronunciation... Supposing I could effortlessly construct grammatically correct sentences...
I'd still be crap at it.
Why ? Because Thai language has so many words with double, and sometimes even triple or quadruple meanings.
English has them too. Beginners find them confusing. There's a TV program, Chris Delievery that highlights them, and uses comedy sketches to teach people when they should use each one. Last Friday's episode looked at 'train' (which means ฝึก , สอน and รถไฟ amongst other things in English.) But Thai seems to have a lot more.
Sometimes, no matter how hard I try to listen, read and speak, I know that I will never, ever be able to figure out some of the hidden, or alternative meanings.
Here's 2 examples that spring to mind from the last couple of days.
1. from Thursday's movie...
I translated part of the title (บ้านเล็ก) as 'little house...' because
บ้าน means house and
เล็ก means little.
Nope, "little house", doesn't actually mean a little house at all. It means a mistress's house. Since any guy who could afford to keep, as well as buy a house for their mistress is probably pretty loaded, I guess the mistress's house isn't that little either.
2. From last night...
I translated สำเร็จความใคร่ as to be sucessful at something eg. to suceed in getting the thing you wish for or desire...
I worked this out by trying to translate it myself. Translating it literally you get....
สำเร็จ - sucessful
ความ - a prefix that people use when then they need to turn verbs or adjectives into nouns. It's a bit like the 'ness' suffix in English
ใคร่ - a wish
This morning I discovered that it also means something else too...
Lets just say its a good job that I've never used this word in an everyday conversation.
|Create Date : 09 กันยายน 2550
|Last Update : 9 กันยายน 2550 14:07:38 น.
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