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.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

So when did kha (ค่ะ) become jao (เจ้า) ?

So, when does kha (ค่ะ) become jao (เจ้า) ?

A regional question and the short answer is “I have no idea.” However, noting the differences between the north and everywhere else, can be both frustrating and fun.

We've just returned from our mid to north Thailand road trip and I didn't hear or say jao until we hit Chiang Mai. Mind you, just south of Lampang the words ซาวบาท (saao bàat / 20 baht) did surface in a conversation. A truly Lanna characteristic, along with lam dtaae dtaae ลำแต้ๆ, not sure about the dtaae dtaae spelling, but the response I received was often positive and smiley.

On returning home I started to seriously question the smiley responses. Northern Thai is not the easiest subject to research :( I began to wonder if I was making some amusing reference to ships or trees in some way. Googling images I’m relieved to find that most of the results are (delicious looking) food related images.

"....alllloy, alllloy, mai arrrroy!" which was theatrically played out to me in a Chiang Rai village market by a lovely older lady, with loads of make up, and hair being held captive in a floral shower cap. 'Very delicious' - official Thai versus spoken Thai.

It was privately amusing to revisit a hair dresser in Chiang Mai, who two years ago I nearly toppled off her swivel chair by greeting her with 'sawadee jao', in a (proudly) believable northern accent, while her back was turned to me.

I’m at Sunday Night Walking street market in Chiang Mai, staring at a T-Shirt with embroidered Thai writing …silently mouthing letter by letter, vowel by vowel. When the penny drops I ask “JJJiang Mai?”

The stall owner says “Yes.”

 Quizzical tilted head look. “จ. จาน jor-jaan?”

“Yes, it’s old Thai.” It is???? I’ll take her word for it.

When we were in Nong Khai, just near the Loas border, 'ja' did seem to be used as a polite response (by the ladies) more often then kha (ค่ะ) is spoken in most other places.

All in all, I was extremely happy with the amount of spoken Thai I remembered after 1 ½ years. And, for some reason, not feeling any self inflicted pressure, I felt more confident in coming forward when need be.

Written Thai, on the other hand, almost made me weep. When we first landed my eyes went into spasms. I could hardly recognise any of the letters or vowels. But, by the end of 3 weeks most of it (enough contextual text) started to seep back.

Happy days!

Cheers! สเนป See what else we're up to at Cooee!


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