Flag of Laos

Laos forum

Manners in Lao

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 953

    Just read the recent blog on Lao regarding manners. I don't know, I disagree with a lot again. I guess the blogger and I must live in parallel Lao universes. (We don't).

    "The phrase excuse me, koh toht, is rarely uttered. People often bump into each other in crowded spaces like markets or tuk tuks, but usually don't feel a need to excuse themselves and instead consider it a natural part of being in close proximity to others"

    Uh excuse me - pun intended. Koh thot is often used - or it is to me anyway. When people bump into me in crowded places I hear it a lot. Furthermore, the nop is going out of fashion a bit, except in really formal occasions.
    How is it in Mukdahan, Mac, or in the rest of Thailand now?

    #1 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 05:17

  • Advertisement

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6267
    Total reviews: 10

    Koh Tot is common usage when banging into someone in the market, but not when just squeezing through a tight space. I would say we do use the phrase excuse more a bit more often than Thais use Koh Tot. The thing they do that is mildly irritating (and for those making that mistake with my wife they get an earful) is cutting in line. Thais do lines about as well as Germans, which is to say they don't do them well. At the seven there always seems to be one guy who tries and squeeze in front of eveyone else with his / her couple of items because they don't want to wait.

    #2 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 06:13

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 953

    Same at the banks here. You always get someone trying to push in, even when you are at the counter. I just spread my arms.

    #3 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 06:16

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6267
    Total reviews: 10

    My wife really gives it to them. She hates that. She hated it in Germany, and hates it more here. The bank I use here uses a numbering system, so no cutting. Same with the power company.

    #4 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 06:42

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    kor tort I thought the Thai word is. That's what I say and they understand. Pretty common in Thailand.

    #5 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 09:14

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6267
    Total reviews: 10

    If you look at the Thai spelling, you will see leonard there is no "R" equivelent. I don't know if you read Thai or not, but I'll try and cut and paste and see if it takes here. The "Aw Ahng" will give the lead vowel this open "Aw" sound. So a pronunciation of Kaw toht or Koh Toht is about as precise as you can get it in the latin alphabet.

    ขอโทษ

    #6 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 09:36

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6267
    Total reviews: 10

    Yeah it wouldn't read the Thai alphabet. You can see what I'm saying if you go to google translate and type in excuse me.

    #7 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 09:36

  • Captain_Bob

    Click here to learn more about Captain_Bob
    Joined Travelfish
    27th May, 2006
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 1583

    Koh thot / kor tort let's now discuss the difference between American and Commonwealth versions of English, the importance of the letter "R" and the numerous shortcomings of Thai/Lao-Romanisiz(s)ed transliteration ;-)

    Anyway, yes I hear and use that expression when appropriate in Thailand, but most people are not British enough to say "sorry" with almost every sentence, eternally embarrassed as per Hugh Grant Notting Hill, etc.

    #8 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 12:24

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6267
    Total reviews: 10

    This is why using the latin alphabet is largely hopless for writing Thai. The differences in Thai pronuniciation of words is often so slight you just can't accurately duplicate it. It's one of the reason I took the time to learn to read and write - the other was I hated being illiterate.

    #9 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 12:42

  • davixdy

    Joined Travelfish
    18th April, 2008
    Posts: 13

    Interesting thread. You can´t imagine how many hours I spent trying to understand the tone difference between far (krai) and near (krai). I am pretty sure that still today I´m not able to say it correctly, hehehe. Ko tot (as if it was one word, with accent in the o of tot) is something I use to say when sitting down in a crowded songthaew and always gives me a gift as pretty as a beautiful smile. I agree with the matter about the impossibility to translate from thai language to latin alphabet.

    #10 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 13:20

  • Advertisement

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6267
    Total reviews: 10

    Yet another example:

    I would pronounce it "Glai" and "Glai" since it uses the Gaw Gai / Law Ling cluster. And davixdy, believe me when I say I would believe you.

    For me it was dog and horse. Since I ride out here sometimes, this one created endless opportunities for my neighbors to amuse themselves.

    "John, where did you go?"
    "I was out riding the dog."

    #11 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 13:27

  • davixdy

    Joined Travelfish
    18th April, 2008
    Posts: 13

    Hehe. Well, in fact when I had same problem I tried to do it easier: instead of "maa" I used "sunak". Nowadays, in my small knowledge of thai language, I am used to say sunak :-)

    #12 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 13:48

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Interesting thread. I think you really have to learn the Thai alphabet to get pronunciation right. Then practise reading
    When Thais finish a word with an 'n' sound instead of what should be an 'L' you can appreciate why they make this error when you know the Thai alphabet.
    I would think the hardest tone for a Westerner is the falling tone; used very little in English speech.
    I can't understand the problem with dog and horse though. Dog is rising whilst horse is high. You should be able to practice that.

    The Thais are taught really bad English as well.To call out to someone 'You!' is so abrupt but of course the Thai equivalent 'Khun' is very polite.
    I love all those polite words like 'noi' and 'duay' at the end of a request. You can really see the appreciation you get when you make the effort to use those kind of moderators, Of course, then you have the opposite like 'bpi si' which is a little harsher than plain 'bpi' for let's go.
    I use 'krap' a lot which I feel is appreciated. Politeness goes a long way in Thailand.
    Cot tot krap. 'Tot' is falling whilst krap' is high tone. It takes some practice to put it together in sentences.
    It took me ages to get 'far' and 'near' right. Seems a wicked trick on learners to have the same word for opposites. doesn't it?

    #13 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 15:17

  • somtam2000

    admin
    Click here to learn more about somtam2000
    Joined Travelfish
    21st January, 2004
    Location Indonesia
    Posts: 7050
    Total reviews: 24
    Places visited:
    At least 113

    I'd mistakingly disabled comments on that post when I published it -- fixed now. If others are interested to read it, you can see the post here.

    #14 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 18:10

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 953

    Both Lao and Thai are written transliterally in English. So what is written is what someone hears. I don't think there is any correct way of writing words in English, except obvious ones eg Krungthep.

    #15 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 18:57

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    No I can't read Thai. I write it as it sounds to me - kor tort. Makes it easier to remember if I write it down the way it sounds. Thot in English sounds like (t)hot which would be wrong. Toht could be confused for tote. Kaw as in saw is basically the same as kor. Saw/sor same same.

    Every Thai-English book uses different English translations because there are no exact translations. I've got 3 books and they all have different spellings. I have to hear a word first from Thais and listen 3-4 times then write it down if I want to remember it or say it 10 times.

    "Krap" isn't crap it's Khrup. But when I first went to Thailand I heard crap, cup and khrup. Cup/Khup being a lazy way to say it taking out the r sound.

    Farang you hear farlung farung from Thais. Then you hear westerners say farang with a harsh ang sound which is wrong.

    Same with Koh Chang. The Chang sound isn't a harsh ang sound but more a ung sound. But Chiang Mai has a Chang My sound.

    Pattaya sounds pa ta ya from westerners but Thais say put tay yar

    Kanchanaburi - Thais say Gunchanaburi

    Koh - It's not Ko or Go but sort of in between. But if you say Ko that's usually close enough when followed by the island name.

    Pha Ngan - everybody seems to argue how to say it. I've asked Thais and even they aren't sure. I'd probably have to show them the Thai spelling to get a more accurate sound.

    It's all very confusing for newbies.

    #16 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 20:27

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6267
    Total reviews: 10

    "Kaw as in saw is basically the same as kor. Saw/sor same same."

    I think this has to do with pronunciation of English rather than Thai. "Kor" in my pronunciation is with a hard R, not an open R. I would pronounce saw and sor completely differently.

    Sayadian
    Pronunciation has never been my problem. Ngong Ngoo gave me a little trouble in the beginning, but not for long. Remmembering is the problem. So I have no problem pronouncing any of the tones, but remmembering which one... blow it slightly and you're screwed. My vaocabulary still needs a lot of work as well.

    #17 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 22:39

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    I'm talking about pronouncing words from an English perspective. Saw and sor would be the same to me. Must be an American thing. How Americans pronounce buoy or buddhist is funny. boo-ee and boo-dhist when it should be boy and bouldhist (as in wouldhist)

    #18 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 22:55

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    "Ngong Ngoo gave me a little trouble in the beginning, but not for long."

    Your wife probably just gave up correcting you. Words like that are hard to get 100% right.

    #19 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 22:57

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6267
    Total reviews: 10

    "Your wife probably just gave up correcting you. Words like that are hard to get 100% right."

    My wife doesn't teach me Thai. I have a real, bonafide teacher who is a school teacher here locally. And he's a good teacher. I'm vey fortunate there. I got all the letters - 100%. I'm pretty confident about that. For me it's remmembering, not the ability to pronounce. Speaking Thai daily does help, and I have to do it. Particularly in my TKD gym as my instructor does not speak or understand any English and the students, for the most part, also don't speak English hardly at all. My principal sparring partners speak no English - which is surprising to me, but there you have it.

    #20 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 23:27

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    The word for Island 'Koh' has the symbol following it which means the vowel has to be sounded quickly. Without reading Thai how could anybody transliterate this? If you sound the vowel the English way it makes no sense unless of course it comes before a named island then they might get it by contextualising.
    'My vocabulary still needs a lot of work as well.'
    and mine too.

    #21 Posted: 29/8/2013 - 02:07

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6267
    Total reviews: 10

    I think the spelling is crap too. Koh should be KAW - but with a short "aw". As in the American "Aw shucks" but with a short "aw".

    I always pronounced it "Koe" until my teacher was talking about the islands and I asked him what he was saying. That led us to spelling, a discussion, and my realization that "Koe" is really "Kaw" with a short vowel.

    Thai script, although mostly from Pali, has been constructed for Thai language. The big problem is the missing vowels. And it's a common one. Then you just have to know the word.

    #22 Posted: 29/8/2013 - 02:43

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Re: Koh.
    It is something like the noise a crow makes. So if you imitate a crow you'll get it right.
    :-)

    Yes implied vowels are a pain but that's why I keep on reading Thai. I can often work out words I don't know by the context. I've also got a native Thai speaker to fall back on.

    How about 'prow wah' terrible transliteration as the 'prow' is short vowel. There is no 'ow ' sound in it but by looking at it you would fall easily into that pronunciation.

    #23 Posted: 29/8/2013 - 05:17

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    'prow wah

    what word is that?

    #24 Posted: 29/8/2013 - 09:39

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6267
    Total reviews: 10

    "prow wah"

    I think he means the word "because" but because it's not written in Thai, I can't be sure.

    #25 Posted: 29/8/2013 - 10:55

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    As you see there is no sense it transliteration. You are right it is the short 'prow' and the falling tone 'wah' meaning 'because'.
    Can't I write in Thai on here? I hate transliteration.
    Anybody like to explain the use of 'gor'? Now that is untranslatable.
    Apparently I could write in Thai but I need a Thai keyboard!

    #26 Posted: 29/8/2013 - 12:04

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6267
    Total reviews: 10

    I have a Thai keyboard, but it doesn't take here. I don't know why.

    #27 Posted: 29/8/2013 - 12:09

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Depending on whether you are running Windows and what version you should have a Thai font. If not you can easily download it with instructions for installation.Then in the bottom right-hand corner where it says 'Eng' if you press this you will have the option to change alphabets. I need to buy key stickers to turn my keyboard into a Thai/English one though.

    #28 Posted: 29/8/2013 - 14:37

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    never heard prow wah before

    #29 Posted: 29/8/2013 - 20:16

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6267
    Total reviews: 10

    Leonard, it's pretty common. Well, as common as "because" is in English. It's the same word and applied pretty much the same way.

    #30 Posted: 30/8/2013 - 12:21

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    it means "because of" im told

    #31 Posted: 31/8/2013 - 07:34

Have questions? Jump to our menu of forum quicklinks

Add your reply

Your reply

Check this box if you want to be notified of replies.

Please be familiar with our user guidelines before you post. Thanks!

Businesses planning on plugging their guesthouse / hotel / karaoke bar should read our "Addition guidelines" very carefully.

You need to be logged in to answer an existing post on the Travelfish forums. Please login via the prompts just above and refresh this screen -- before writing your post -- and you'll be in business.