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!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Another resource for learning Thai

If you are or thinking about learning Thai, you might find this a valuable resource.


I haven't reviewed it myself as yet, but will really soon, as we prepare to revisit the land of smiles!

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When does kha (ค่ะ) become jao (เจ้า) ?

We're bbbaaacckkk :)

We'll be looping from Bangkok to northern Thailand and back, via another route. Hence, the question, when does kha (ค่ะ) become jao (เจ้า) ?

I've been in both parts of Thailand, but never travelled by land through the twighlight zone. We're expecting to ride due north from BKK and return down the eastern side of LOS.

Any ideas of what to see, what to do?

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

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Oh, to be two years old again

Getting reacquainted with our grandpumpkin, who will be two in a few weeks, has reminded me about the frustrations of learning a new language.

The importance of contextual speech and frequency of the word, is key to translating. For instance, it's obvious if that little hand of her's wriggles its way into yours and she says 'boor' (over and over again) that she's saying 'walk'. Dropping my 'sheeeews' at my feet is a pretty blatant clue, also.

Or, if she's crept off the naughty mat and is pleading "shewshebla nanoo shweesha ay nanoo" that 'nanoo' = 'naughty'. (She's very big on the 'sh' words) This, reinforced by an excitable and very serious (toy) phone conversation shortly after, where 'nanoo' is repeated several times.

Growing up with two different accents. Her Dad is Stoke on Trent English, our CJ, Australian, so there are definite different pronunciations of particular words. I hadn't thought of how this will effect her early language learning until yesterday, while trying to encourage her to say our friend's name...Luke.

However, every time we repeated his name, she swung her head around to see what we were telling her to 'look' at.

'Bup' is obviously 'up'...because she's raising her arms, but it also doubles as 'down'. 'Mum' is always her name for her actual Mum, but it's also a word she uses when seeking safety and a command or request for when she wants help or a task performed...poor Mums.

Of course, she (unlike us) has an advantage, as we, those who surround her, make an effort to understand her and translate grandpumpkin speak into English.

And, why is it that I've never met a child who learns to 'yes' before they've learnt to say 'no'?

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

Monday, March 26, 2012

Before we leave Siem Reap

"The language. A native Bangkokian recently said to me that Khmer reminded him of 'rock n roll'. Until then I thought I was the only one that visualised languages. Khmer to me was like someone plucking a banjo, Deliverance style...and from time to time, I could have sworn I'd recognised some (Thai) notes. Possibly, but more than likely, not. Malaysian conjures up a pot of something really thick bubbling away on the stove, but that's another post."

To read more about our time in Siem Reap and Cambodia, hop over to  Cooee!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Learning Thai On The Run - Android App

Writing this post on a smart phone keyboard isn't the easiest task for this oldish touch typist with failing eye sight. However, using Paiboon's Thai English Thai Dictionary Android App is a cinch.

For a (including mine) full review visit WLT. A must have for both holiday makers and serious students of the Thai language.


See what else we're up to at Cooee!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Not learning Thai

I can't believe it's been over three months since we left the land of smiles. Studying Thai after returning to Australia was always an unknown, the how, the when, the what and the will we? We knew it would be more difficult, not being surrounded by the language everyday, not having native speakers to answer our questions and it being absolutely unnecessary here. That and settling back into your old life, really does slow a person down.

After the first few weeks of being in limbo land and reverse culture shock, Stray started pushing to continue with our studies. Every morning, before I'd well and truly woken up with my second cup of coffee, before I knew it, he'd have our Thai books out and quizzing me or start talking to me in Thai. Tricky, yes, but it worked. And, for a few more weeks we continued like that. Watching Youtube videos, writing down new words and utilising free online learning resources. Most of which are listed on WLT, thanks to Catherine, who is relentless in tracking them down and finding new sites for us learners.

However, as time goes by and my work increases, and visitors come and go and come and go, (and I have to do my own laundry ;) I find it increasingly more challenging to find the time and the energy to continue to learn Thai. The good news is, we still speak Thai (when the words come to us) and we haven't forgotten much (I don't think), and have even added a couple of new words/phrases to our vocabulary.

The solution is simply 'discipline'. Discipline to make time and keep a routine/schedule.  Structure!

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