Thursday, December 06, 2007

Phaasaa Thay

I just finished my Thai lesson with Khruu Awe for the week so I'm pumped! I've been telling everyone "Chan rian phassaa Thai!" (I am studying the Thai language!) I'm going to state the obvious here, but...learning Thai has been really useful! It's definitely not easy and I have to study and practice in between lessons, but I've been amazed at how many words/phrases I either already knew or hear on a regular basis but just wasn't sure what they meant. It's funny because the thing that's slowed me down (and yet at the same time, helped me learn more) has been learning to read the Thai phonetics that my book uses. Sometimes I'll be slowly sounding out a word and then go "Oh! That's _____" (a word I already use all the time but didn't recognize). So that's fun. : ) The things I'm learning in Module 1 are also just super useful. Last week we covered the lesson on directions and while I knew over 1/2 the vocabulary for that lesson, I wasn't quite putting the sentences together in the correct way. Not only that, but I discovered a couple of words/phrases that opened a whole new world for me giving directions to taxi drivers! So last weekend I took taxis to the MTW office both times I went there (I usually go there by bus because it's cheaper) just so that I could tell the taxi driver how to get there in advance (instead of telling him to "go straight, go straight, go straight...turn left here!"). After I did the first time and he understood me, I grinned and said "Chan rian phaasaa thay!" He just kind of laughed and complimented me on how well I speak it, which is a lie but was very kind.

Also funny (and has been obvious to many of you for a while but I'm just now realizing): I'm discovering some neat correlations between this tonal language and music. So many people have told me that Thai should be easier for me because I'm a musician, but I've never really thought so up to this point (and I'm still a little doubtful...). But as I'm sounding out my words, I find that "conducting" myself with my pencil helps me say the words correctly. AND I've started using "tones" to teach my kids in class! There have been a few songs I've been teaching them by rote for the Christmas concert but they haven't been singing the endings of phrases correctly. I finally discovered a pattern in one song and wrote it on the board telling them that "this word is a low tone, this one is high tone, this one is a rising tone and this is falling tone..." They immediately sang it correctly! So I guess I'm learning to speak their "language" in more ways than one. : )

4 Comments:

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another way to practice is to use google in Thai.

http://www.google.com/intl/th/

 
At 5:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catherine,

It is so cool that you are learning Thai! Have fun.

helenH

 
At 4:59 AM, Blogger EvaB and VickiMac said...

You go girl! I pray this will open new doors for you and help you to feel even more comfortable in Thailand.

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger Left My Heart in Thailand said...

I'm so glad that you are finally taking some Thai lessons so that you don't have to ask me and Melanie what things are anymore! ;) Oh wait, I guess just Melanie now. :) Awesome, Catherine!!

 

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