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Thai Language

Thai is not the world's easiest language to learn, unless you are Thai. It is a tonal language belonging to the group of Ka-Tai languages. The five tones are monotone, low, falling, high and rising. This means that the same word spoken with different tones can have different meanings. The snag is that it's extremely difficult for speakers of non-tonal languages to hear the difference in tone. Add to that the fact that Thai uses its own, unique alphabet and you have the recipe for a tricky language. However, Thai is a charming language, and certainly not impossible to acquire. You can pick up very basic words and phrases quite quickly, and that's worth doing since Thai people appreciate foreigners speaking their language. In fact, it's almost a necessity in some places as English is not always understood.

If you want to at least attempt a minimum of communication, find yourself a Thai phrasebook in any good bookstore, at least in Bangkok.

A few points to bear in mind:

Here are a few basic Thai greetings and phrases to try:

Hello (male speaker) sawasdee khrap
Hello (female speaker) sawasdee kha
How are you? sabai dee reu ?
Fine thanks sabai dee
Thank you kop koon
Never mind mai pen rai
I can't speak Thai phoot Thai mai dai
I don't understand mai kao chai
Do you understand? kao chai mai ?
May I take a photograph? tai ruup dai mai ?
May I use the telephone? kor chai torasap mai ?
Where is the rest room? hong nam yoo tee nai ?
What is this ? nee arai ?
How much does this cost? nee tao rai ?
Very expensive paeng maak
The bill please gep taang
Turn left leeo sai
Turn right leeo kwaa
Straight on drong bai
Sorry/excuse me kor thod
Good luck kor hai chok dee
See you again laew phob gan mai
Good-bye la gon
Who sells chicken eggs? Krai kai kai kai ?
   
1 neung
2 song
3 sam
4 see
5 haa
6 hok
7 jet
8 bad
9 gow
10 sip
11 sip-et
12 sip-song
13 sip-sam
20 yee-sip
21 yee-sip-et
22 yee-sip-song
30 sam-sip
40 see-sip
50 hah-sip
60 hok-sip
70 jet-sip
80 bad-sip
90 gow-sip
100 neung roi, roi
1000 neung pahn, pahn
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