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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thai Language "I botched it"

HumourImage via WikipediaI just read a very funny article submitted in our forum about the humour and embarrassment between languages.  So now its time for me to confess my stumbles in learning / speaking Thai

I was the driver for my three (3) Thai friends to visit an Asia supermarket in Perth. While pushing the shopping trolley I asked Khun Pair (thai student) “what’s the word for Trolley?"

Her answer (I've forgotten) was challenged by Khun Tong (ladyboy thai student). We resolved the definition with a ruling from khun Angella (thai visitor and adopted mum of the two students).

P humourThe conversation drifted to the appropriate word for “driver” (of a vehicle) being “cup" as opposed to "Kee" which is more appropriate when you put your leg over something, like a motor bike or an Elephant...  ok but not ok...

As the 2 students dashed ahead Angella laughed to herself and then explained.. she told me the slang word “kee por” (meaning wife rides husband)!!!!  ah haa funny guy me.. thinks I would test my skill on the unsuspecting students. But I mangled it…

I said PaW (raising) instead of Por (middle). One is father and the other is Husband

So when I thought I was being cheeky, talking stating "Wife riding husband" they were bemused by my sicko atttidue of "wife ride daddy".

Being polite they said nothing, they looked down with a sense of disgust and walk off?
It was apparent by their body language my humour was not right?

I did not understand .....  yet Angella was rolling in tears of laughter… how can there be 2 radical reactions ?

humourI stood puzzled by the diverse reaction and turned to Angella seeking guidance. Angella graciously explained my foible or rather fetish. She thought it was hilarious that I made such a mess of it. I immediately chased after the 2 Thai students trying to explain the intended joke ... eventually I managed to convince them I did not have such tendencies or perverted thoughts..

At the time it was most awkward but now we look back and laugh about it a lot.   The more I quote this story the more confident I am about learning from mistakes...

Equally the opposite happened

Khun Pim was visiting from Thailand. There was a plumbing problem in the house and I mentioned I must attend when I get home from work. When I arrived Pim proudly bosted how she fixed the plumbing problem.

I looked quite surpirsed and having inspected the repairs I returned to the kitchen and praised her skill and said "how did you know how to do that"

Pic left: Khun Pim

Khun Pim looked me squarely in the eyes and produced a big beaming smile and an expression of great satisfaction and achievement, like someone was giving a speech for saving the world!

She boldly declared "I'm a pervert"!!

I recall coughing up my glass of water, whipped the spill from my face and said "your a what"?

again she said "Pervert", my expression had changed from humble to disbelief as I said "are you sure". By this stage Khun Pim realised something was wrong, her expression changed to a puzzled look but yet she continued to pursue the stance of a winner.

I explained what a "pervert" is and she was horrified.

We went back over the options and resolved that she wanted the word "Expert" and moved forward. It's now 2 years later and I use this example every few months, it always gets a laugh and opens up the channels for everyone to start trying speak another language without fear of too much embarrassment.

The article that I just read is submitted in our Forum - it's very funny but there are some rude words so we shifted the article to Members only - this link - click here

There are articles about Tongue twisters in the  forum .. use ths tag word "compare" to see them - click here

Picture above of Khun Pim is from a collection of Thai Costume photos at this link