I can officially read 4 words in Thai. READ. Not write or pronounce. Fortunately, anyone who has read my blog probably can’t really remember not being able to read or write. I think that by all official definitions, I am still considered illiterate and being illiterate really sucks. To my credit, I have learned to speak a functional amount of Thai, and I’ve learned how to say important things like “go eat jizz water” and “you are a buffalo” and “If you eat that, I will kill you”.
English may be a bitch to learn, but at least we only have 26 letters in our alphabet which are, in my opinion, easy to write. Thai Script on the other hand has 44 consonants, 15 vowel symbols (that can combine to form 28 vowel sounds), and 4 tone marks. On top of that, the vowels and tone marks can be arranged above/below/left/right of the main consonant letter. As far as I can tell, the concept of a “sentence” in English, does not exist in Thai so they are just lines of letters with no spaces. To it’s credit, Thai script looks really cool.
I’m sure that if I studied it, I could learn it. But instead, I developed my own highly sophisticated way of reading. I associate things with Thai letters that look like English. Let me demonstrate this technique:
The first word I learned is “Baht”, which is the Thai currency. In Thai, it’s บาท. To me, this looks like the English word urN (u, backwards r, backwards uppercase N). By virtue of not being a total idiot, I was able to figure this one out fairly easily.
Next is my addiction, Coke Zero. In Thai, it’s โค้ก ซีโร่ (thanks Furn). Which actually doesn’t look like any kind of English words. I drink a cancer causing amount of this nectar, but there are a lot of things that I eat and drink a lot of and I can’t recognize their names if I see them. Because Coke Zero looks like “Ean BTS” when they stylize the letters on the bottle/can (Ean like the name and BTS like the name of the sky train in Bangkok), I can read it. But in regular script, no way. However, knowing how to read this in Thai is almost 100% useless becasue the other side of the label says everything in English. I guess this one half counts.
On the flip side, probably the most useful word I’ve “learned” to read is the word for “push”. In Thai it’s, ผลัก. To me, this looks like “wan”. After many lessons, the sign on the door to my building which I walk through multiple times every day finally taught me this word. Just like when I read the word push in English, I still pull. At least the Thai lessons were free.
Last but not least, I learned the letters of whatever the brand of my laundry detergent is. Side note, for the first 2 months I was here, apparently I was only washing my clothes with a bottle of Downey fabric softener because I couldn’t read any of the bottles and I bought the wrong stuff. Anyway, I don’t even know how this is written in Thai or where to begin looking for it on the internet. But this laundry detergent is the most patriotic one on the shelf. USA brand. How could I not buy this??? I assume the text under the brand name says something like “This gets your clothes so fresh and so clean, clean.”
I found this by accident. But I could say your words and all your effort to study Thai alphabet makes me smile. I’m Thai who has this kind of experiences with Japanese alphabet as well. If you still live in Thailand hope you have a great time here.