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.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

First day of school

It's been a long time coming, but it arrived this first day at school.

Our melting pot class of nine (from eight different countries) were introduced to basic Thai greetings, small conversations and how to say what we don't or do like to eat, drink etc. Food will always hold MY interest!

I'm glad I'm at 'toursit Thai' level and was familiar with the most of the words, but will need to practice daily I think, so any new information doesn't go in one ear and out the other. So, no, my head didn't explode today, but I'm sure there'll be plenty of opportunities to implode and or self combust, in my upcoming lessons.

I (knew) suspected strongly, that Stray and I had been making language whoopsies since we've arrived in Thailand. Being mostly self or street taught, it was inevitable. Today I put some those blunders to bed while chatting to one of the staff members after class. I'll put them up for display/debate, should anyone be interested or have another opinion or not.

We'd been calling each other miia (wife) and phuaa (husband)...not so polite apparently! I admitted that a security guard taught us these words. Although, not rude, the more polite versions would be phanrayaa (wife) and saamee (husband).

If you read Cooee!, you might already know that Stray alternates between calling me 'beautiful' and 'bad luck', both suay, but with different tones. She assured me that if a farang says someone is jinxed, Thais automatically presume they mean 'beautiful'. I'll let him off on that one.

'Good bye'. I'm a slacker, I stick to sawadee kha for every time of the day, whether I'm coming or going. Stray will often say laa gaawn for good bye, which (I'm told) is generally used if you are not going to see that person not really fitting if you say it to the hotel staff whom you walk past several times a day.

Of course the R/L syndrome was briefly discussed in class and put down to laziness. Because it's been driving me bonkers, I just had to ask "so, R is R when taught in school and turns into an L outside of school?"


Well, I'm off to buy some Hello Kitty stationery, so I can start practicing and plug any potential major leaks forming in my brain.

See what else we're up to at Cooee!


  1. Even though I was expelled from secondary school I always loved my first day of class - so many possibilities. I never managed proper Thai language classes so I'm a bit envious. I'm sure your progress in the language will really take off now.

  2. G'day Mate!.....ower ya goin or seeya chip, or seeyalatermate have no mysterious connotations.............

    Al Pal @ 291

  3. Paul, I've never been expelled or even suspended...a bit of a goody two shoes I guess!...hope I don't start a new trend now.

    I'll swap you my language class for your reading skills! Joking aside, I hope it does take off and I can get some sort of flow happening.

  4. Thanks 291,I hope I remember how to talk like that when I get home! I'd hate to be Thai learning Australian ;)

  5. I haven't heard that about laa gon. I was told it can only be said by the person leaving.
    I use sawadee for goodbye but you can also use bai (bye) or laew jer gan na (see you later).

    I also show off by saying ra tre sawas, (good night), but get told off as it seems it should be used more literally (i.e. only when that person is going to sleep).
    Note to self: don't try to be clever using Thai.

    Good luck with the lessons. I'm envious.

  6. Hi Dan, I've heard also that 'raa dtree sawat' is only said when the person is going to bed/sleep. Stray says 'pop gan mai' for see you later, but he's a bit (much) more outgoing than I and tends to experiment a lot with Thai.

    I'm basically a chicken and won't speak unless I've had formal verification of what I'm about to say.

    'Laa gon'...I'll keep looking into that one!

  7. "won't speak unless I've had formal verification of what I'm about to say"

    You and me both. After having French lasses run away screaming, I'm cured from going the free fall route.

    "my head didn't explode today"

    Just you wait ;-)

  8. Ha ha Catherine

    "my head didn't explode today"

    I'm happy in ignorant bliss land at the moment ;)

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  11. Brings back memories of learning italian way back in my high school years....
    You had better learn well because I will be relying on you to translate for me when I visit (still no definite date). Love reading Cooee... just remember to write in english... lol

  12. I'm starting to comprehend prices automatically and can order food correctly most of the time...and am really good at charades now.

    Some of the best times are had when you don't have a clue and are armed with only a tourist phrase book! But I wouldn't be that mean...see you soonish.

  13. Snap, Awesome! I had many words to unlearn myself but now you are on your way and maybe in a year we can all speak Thai together and understand it too :P

  14. By the way I usually say "laaeo phop gan mai" which means see you soon or until we meet again when I say goodbye...

  15. Hi Talen...I'm really enjoying the class and am self inflicting homework at the moment (also trying to keep up with the script, which isn't been tackled in class yet). It would be a small miracle if I could hold a decent conversation in a years time, but I'd be up for the challenge!

    Laaeo phop gan mai :)

  16. I know we've gone past this, really. But it caught my eye.

    Check it!

    Quote from "LYRICS"
    Cantonese is a pitch sensitive tonal language. The word carries a different meaning when sung in a different relative pitch. Matching Cantonese lyrics to Western music was particularly difficult because the Western musical scale has 12 semi-tones. Through the work of pioneers like Sam Hui, James Wong and Lo Kwok Jim, those that followed have more stock phrases for reference. Cantonese lyricists play a great part in advancing Canto Pop.
    [edit]Classical Chinese lyrics
    The first type is the poetic lyrics written in literary or classical Wenyan Chinese. In the past, Cantopop maintained the Cantonese Opera tradition of matching the musical notes with tones of the language. Relatively few Cantopop songs use truly colloquial Cantonese terms, and fewer songs contain lyrics. Songs written in this style are usually reserved for TV shows about ancient China. Since the 1980s, increasing numbers of singers have departed from this traditional, though some big names like Roman Tam stayed true to traditional techniques.
    [edit]Modern Chinese lyrics
    The second type is less formal. The lyrics written in colloquial Cantonese make up the majority with compositions done in modern written Chinese. TV shows filmed under modern contexts will utilize songs written with these lyrics. Most songs share an overriding characteristic, in which every last word of a phrase is rhymed.
    The following is an example from the song "Impression" (印象) by Samuel Hui. The last word of every phrase ends with '–oeng'.

  17. Hi Fred, so it seems there is, or has been, a form of adaptation/metamorphosis of tonal languages, when it comes to western music. I hadn't even thought about the rhyming aspect. That's a completely different can of worms, when it comes to literally translating an English song to a tonal and different language've just given me another project to work on. How true to the western original, is the translated song, lyric wise?

  18. PS. My husband finished his TEFL course today :)

  19. Snap, I missed this, but I hope you're enjoying your classes! I'm so jealous--I wish I were back in class. Hope you're learning a lot!

  20. Hi Megan, I'm only two days into of course, I'm having fun! I think our teacher will keep it interesting for us, she's got a good sense of humour!


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