Chiang Mai Thai

Ever wanted to learn Thai, in Chiang Mai? I did just that from November 2010, returning home in October 2011. If you don't want a headache, start HERE, it will explain the preceding posts. I'm Snap, Stray's other half. COOEE is our (other) travel blog.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dissecting The Elephant Song

Well it's not a dissection really, more like a paper cut.

When I asked my dummest question ever, I never thought I'd recieve such a great response. The general consensus seems to be that regardless of incorrect word tones, Thai songs are understood due to context. This gives me great hope for when I start speaking more Thai.

But because I know nit naawy (miniscule) Thai and couldn't fully appreciate the information (way above my head) from Rikker and Catherine, I had to take a closer look at my level...pre kindergarten.

I used this website for reference, their singers version of the Elephant Song and looked at the second line after 'chaang chaang chaang'.

Here goes...

Script                 น้อง        เคย      เห็น  ช้าง       หรือ    เปล่า
Transliteration  nawng  kheeuy hen  chaang reuu  bplaao
Tone                  high      mid      rise  high      rise   low

I'm a 'see it to believe it' sort of person and an artist, (that's why I failed physics ;) so using visual aides helps me a lot when learning., if you convert the tones to a type of visual/musical format, it would look something like this.

I couldn't find the sheet music, so these are not the notes, just the musical tones as I hear them. The correct note isn't really important, I'm concentrating on the word tone, within the note.

I listened to the music over and over and found that:

The third word 'hen' should rise and I think I can hear a little rise in there.
The fifth word 'reuu', should also rise, but I can't hear the word tone rising, only the musical high note.

If the word tones were to remain faithful and sung to the notes correctly, I imagine it would indeed put a different spin on Thai songs. And, maybe, there are some more traditional Thai songs that do keep the tones intact?

Good news! My language school application has been approved by the Ministry of Education. I start my course at the end of this month, but still have to go to Laos to get my education visa. I'm eagerly awaiting Talen's post on how to do just that...hopefully it's idiot proof!

See what else we're up to at Cooee!


  1. Hi Snap, I think that it is good that you are putting so much effort into learning the tones - it will pay off later.

  2. Paul, I really hope so! I need to learn how to break out of my shell a little and put it all into practice.

  3. It would be good if you could. My biggest stumbling block with learning Thai has always been that I don't like to talk to strangers. I have always been more comfortable reading Thai than speaking it.

  4. I'm with you Paul, I'm not a socialite. But I'm hoping my language course gives me more confidence.


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