Language Difficulties

03 Dec 2006


Even Thais have trouble maneouvring in the night markets.

A young Thai man fails to look behind him before stepping out and clobbers me thoroughly. He takes a second to think about it, then addresses me in my own language.

"Good morning."

I'm already past him, so all I can do is nod. Still, I think I understand now why the locals burst into good-natured laughter when I try to speak Thai.

Heading for home, I ask the tuk-tuk driver "tow-rai?", which I hope means "how much?", and not "good morning", or "merry christmas", or anything like that. He mutters "see sip", then holds up four fingers and says "thirty".

"See sip" means "forty" in Thai. I know this, but nobody knows that I know this.

Earlier, I'd caused a considerable amount of confusion when paying for my room by saying "room seventeen", and then "neung sip baat" ("eighteen"), so I give the tuk-tuk driver forty baht. He's trying.