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Laos forum

Manners in Lao

Posted by Rufus on 28/8/2013 at 05:17

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 Rufus has been a member since 22/4/2007. Location: Laos. Posts: 973

Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2013 at 06:13

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 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957


Posted by Rufus on 28/8/2013 at 06:16

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 Rufus has been a member since 22/4/2007. Location: Laos. Posts: 973

Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2013 at 06:42

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.

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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 28/8/2013 at 09:14

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

#5 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2013 at 09:36

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 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2013 at 09:36

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.

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Posted by Captain_Bob on 28/8/2013 at 12:24

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.

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Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2013 at 12:42

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 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by davixdy on 28/8/2013 at 13:20

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.

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Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2013 at 13:27

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 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by davixdy on 28/8/2013 at 13:48

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 :-)

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Posted by sayadian on 28/8/2013 at 15:17

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 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by somtam2000 on 28/8/2013 at 18:10 admin

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.

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Posted by Rufus on 28/8/2013 at 18:57

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 Rufus has been a member since 22/4/2007. Location: Laos. Posts: 973

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 28/8/2013 at 20:27

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 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2013 at 22:39

"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 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 28/8/2013 at 22:55

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 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 28/8/2013 at 22:57

"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 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2013 at 23:27

"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 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sayadian on 29/8/2013 at 02:07

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 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by MADMAC on 29/8/2013 at 02:43

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 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sayadian on 29/8/2013 at 05:17

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 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 29/8/2013 at 09:39

'prow wah

what word is that?

#24 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 29/8/2013 at 10:55

"prow wah"

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

#25 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sayadian on 29/8/2013 at 12:04

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 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by MADMAC on 29/8/2013 at 12:09

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

#27 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sayadian on 29/8/2013 at 14:37

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 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 29/8/2013 at 20:16

never heard prow wah before

#29 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 30/8/2013 at 12:21

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 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 31/8/2013 at 07:34

it means "because of" im told

#31 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148


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