Perhaps the least likely place you’ll need to worry about your linguistic acrobatics is at the hotel. It’s pretty much guaranteed that the receptionist at the very least will have a great command of English.
However, nothing’s for certain and it never hurts to have a few bits and pieces hidden up your sleeve, if only to impress.
Indeed, the more intrepid you are the more likely you are to find places where a spattering of Thai is not only impressive, but down-right necessary. I can’t count the times I have found the phrases “There’s no hot water in my room,” and “The air con is broken,” to be very handy!
Here are a few vital vocabs, and some handy phrases.
Hotel: โรงแรม rong raem
Guesthouse: เกสต์เฮ้าส์ get-háo
Check in: เช็คอิน chék-in
Standard room: ห้องธรรมดา hông tam-má-daa
Deluxe room: ห้องดีลักซ์ hông dee-lák
Suite: ห้องชุด hông chút
Twin beds: เตียงคู่ dtiang kôo
Double bed: เตียงใหญ่ dtiang yài
Check out: เช็คเอาท์ chék-ao
Fan room: ห้องพัดลม hông pát-lom
Air con room: ห้องแอร์ hông air
With breakfast: พร้อมอาหารเช้า práwm aahăan cháo
Shared bathroom: ห้องน้ำส่วนร่วม hông náam sùan rûam
Private bathroom: ห้องน้ำส่วนตัว hông náam sùan dtua
Towel: ผ้าเช็ดตัว pâa chét dtua
Blanket: ผ้าห่ม pâa hòm
Pillow: หมอน mŏn
What time is breakfast served? อาหารเช้าเซิร์ฟกี่โมง Aahăan cháo sêrf gèe mohng
May I have a late check out? ขอเช็คเอาท์ช้าหน่อยได้ไหม Chék-ao cháa nòi dâi mǎi
There’s no hot water in my room: น้ำร้อนในห้องไม่ไหล Náam ráwn nai hông mâi lăi
The air con’s broken: แอร์ในห้องเสีย Air nai hông sĭa
Do you have a washing and ironing service? มีบริการซักรีดไหม Mee bo-rí-gaan sák-rêet măi
Can I have another towel? ขอผ้าเช็ดตัวอีกผืน Kŏr pâa chét dtua èek pěun
Just a little note on beds.
I have found that using เตียงคู่ dtiang kôo doesn't always get you what you’re expecting. It appears that เตียงคู่ dtiang kôo can sometimes be understood to mean double bed. For absolute clarity you can specify how many beds you are expecting. For example, to request twin beds you can say เอาเตียงเล็กสองตัว "Ao dtiang lék sŏng dtua," (Lit. I’d like two small beds). To make it clear you want a double bed you can say เอาเตียงใหญ่ตัวเดียว "Ao dtiang yài dtua dieow," (Lit. I’d like one big bed).
If you liked this, you'll love our blog. Check out short, timely lessons in Thai at www.tweetyourselfthai.wordpress.com and follow us on Twitter @AjarnPasa
If you have any questions or suggestions for topics for future lessons on Travelfish, feel free to leave a comment.
See you next time
i love these little language lessons, and my favorite phrases from this one are "chek-in" and "chek-ao". very handy.
i've had mixed luck, however using "naam rawn" for "hot water." it seems that "naam um" tends to be understood more consistently. do you have any thoughts on that? cheers.
Glad you're having fun with these Exacto :-)
น้ำอุ่น Náam òon (short oo like how the Ozzies say 'chook') means warm water, as opposed to hot water.
Your right it is pretty much interchangeable with náam ráwn (hot water).
One might even go as far as to say that it's far more accurate as it's a rare thing indeed to get water much above tepid in most of the guest-houses in which an intrepid back packer is likely to stay.
like exacto I too love these informative language lessons BUT the big problem is the correct pronunciation of each individual word. Having travelled to Thailand numerous times I find that unless a thai person instructs me on the word or phrase I am trying to use, without having the tonal rise and fall I am pretty much misunderstood. Being Australian we have such a monotone way of talking so while I can read the Roman translation I have no way of knowing if what I am practising would ever be understood.
A funny example was being in Khao Lak last November before some diving and thought great I'll head down the beach for my favourite seafood dish of grilled squid with deep fried garlic and cold beer. So plucked up the courage to order the whole thing in Thai. Well the poor waitress just looked at me and brought me a menu to point at. So I pointed at the menu we all had a laugh and I had what I wanted.
I understand there is probably online language lessons probably sold by Rosetta Stone or someone like that, but they obviously cost quite a bit of money.
Anyway just some constructive thoughts because I love the look of your website and it is no doubt a great help to people as you say can speak basic Thai that need to go that bit further.
I'd like to hear your thoughts
I thoroughly sympathise with you Swag. Pronunciation is a really important part of being understood in Thailand. The language requires much more precision with vowel sounds particularly, and of course those oft dreaded tones.
The problem is that the way that the words get transliterated into roman script is an extremely inexact art, and the way one replicates the transliteration depends on one's native accent. Just think of different ways in which the vowel sounds in, for example, "Fish and Chips" vary depending on whether it's a Kiwi, a Brit or a Spaniard saying them. Fush, fish, feesh :-0
The reason I include the Thai script in these little lessons is (at least in part) in the hope that you might print them out and find a willing bod at your local Thai restaurant or Asian Cultural centre who could say them for you - giving you a quick lesson. Failing that you could take them along with you on your next trip, and if all else fails after having given the speaking a go you could whip them out and show them to whoever is misunderstanding you.
There are lots of good resources on the web with sound. Have a look at the blog roll on my site: www.tweetyourselfthai.wordpress.com for a couple of starting points. And keep at it, practice really does make perfect.
AjarnPasa I appreciate your doing this, but while Thai transliteration is more of an art than a science, it's a good idea to use an established system. Yours appears to be "proprietary" and is something of a mish-mash. For example, "sêrf " has your tone marking but also an "r" inserted which is used in one system as an indication of a rising tone, hence the unfortunate name "Porn." So as someone who can speak a bit of Thai--more than a bit, but I can't read Thai (yet), I have only a vague idea how to pronounce "sêrf." Also, you use "dt" at the beginning.
The "Th" used in standard transliterations is acurrate in distingushing the aspirated "t" (or p, k) from the non-aspirated "t" etc, but even that leads to some "falang" thinking the large island in the Andaman sea is call "Fuu-ket" (even though they're not in "Thigh-land"). So I'm afraid I find your transliterations causing even more obfuscation.
It's the same with Chinese and Japanese: "sy" is teachnically "better" than "sh" as a way to spell the "sh" sound, but would you want to eat at a restaurant selling "susy?"
In Chinese, "Peking" was actually intended as a transliteration of "Beijing," though referencing the approx. 500 y.o. pronunciation, before the "g" sound elided to a "j" sound...and that "g" sound is represented by a "k" without an apostrophe, whereas the "k" sound was represented by a "k." This in the Wade-Giles system....notice that when the Chinese finally made their own system it's much more logical.
All this to press my point....Thai can be spelled in Roman letters--IMO--much more clearly than your system (and others out there to be sure) does, so please resconsider that. Maybe I'm just thick but when someone like myself who's been travelling there for 20 years off-and-on can't make out what you're writing, I think there's a problem. And IMO Asians have suffered more than enough at the hands of us Westerners barging in and mucking things up (speaking especially of the "colonial" as we call it period), we could at least try ensure that we're not misporouncing their lovely languages.
As a footnote I'll comment that compared to the late '80s, fewer backpackers/travellers seem to make much attempt to learn ANY Thai at all, and my impression is the Thais at least in BKK are not thrilled at the attitudes of many of us, at least in this regard. A clear way of presenting spoken Thai might help here.
#7 asiainmyblood has been a member since 15/2/2010. Posts: 6
Couple of edits, "sy" is referring to Japanese, not Chinese too, and instead of "k" I meant to write "k'" (i.e. with the apostrophe in place).
#8 asiainmyblood has been a member since 15/2/2010. Posts: 6
@exacto for your first post here(#2) about the hot water.
It is indeed very difficult to get your tones right and the best way to learn how to pronounce a word is actually learn the characters in Thai.
as for hot : ร้อน
ร้ = RO RUA (the name for the character): and Pronounced as "R" "RI" "RO" "RE", all depending on the little characters on top of it (or under)
อ O ANG , is just an "O"
น NO NUA, is just an "N", but can also vary on characters before and after it.
So actually you get the word for hot(as you would read it in English): RON (as you might mispronounce it if you use "RAWN". )
to get the good deal out of it, you should make the "R" bending a little bit into an "L" as you know Thai people have some difficulties with the R.
or you could indeed just use AjarnPasa his thing for hot water.
hmm. free size doesn't fit all :P
perhaps it'd be good to have a post explaining the transliteration system used here once & for all, just like in the first few pages of dictionaries & phrasebooks? make it a sticky so that all can easily locate & refer to it?
so far only thing i feel about Aj Pasa's transliteration that might be less than clear to some is the use of 'o' for both อ (rhymes with English 'ore') & โ (rhymes with English 'oh') vowels. difference is obvious to those who can read the Thai script, but not to those who can't.
It's the same with Chinese and Japanese: "sy" is teachnically "better"than "sh" as a way to spell the "sh" sound
i speak Chinese (am ethnic Chinese) & find that 'sh' is a best way to spell the 'sh' sound :P (& i think the Wade-Giles system is crap.)
thanks for your thoughts and for taking the time to respond. my comment, however, wasn't concern about pronunciation. what i was trying to suggest is that น้ำร้อน is what you use to make tea, while น้ำอุ่น is heated water in a shower. definitely น้ำร้อน is often understood, particularly in places that cater to westerners, but in my experience น้ำอุ่น is more accurate and much more likely to be understood in off-the-beaten-track places. i only mentioned it in the first place because i've been corrected so many times by hotel clerks and others. maybe it's a dialect thing, but it's certainly not a big deal either way. cheers!
Thanks for the comments. All the transliteration systems are a headache, including my mish mash, which I think is the closest representation of the sounds based on my southern English accent, but which I am perfectly happy to admit may not suit all tongues. I am sorry that asianinmyblood doesn't like my transliteration system, but others are just as obfuscating in my view. I would suggest copying the Thai script and inserting it into an online dictionary like http://thai2english.com or http://thai-language.com (where you can customise the phonetics to your taste).
Re อ Have a look at the examples below. Native speakers and people who know the language well might sympathise with why I interchange o for aw.
ห้อง Hông vs. Hâwng (room)
ร้อน Ráwn vs. Rón (hot)
In my opinion, and in spite of the fact that they represent the same Thai letter, the first version in each case renders the phoneme more accurately. Why this should be is unclear - though I have my suspicions.
However, all that said nothing beats learning the script. Anyone serious about learning the language should not hesitate in getting to grips with the script as soon as they can.
@exacto #9: the feeling is mutual. At least mine wasn't just a mindless piece of sarcasm.
@wanderingcat #11: I agree, I should have said "sy" is technically more accurate since (and I speak Japanese as well as Chinese) the "sh" sound is phonically in the S category; but I agree with you that "sh" makes much more sense. I think I made my point poorly but what I was trying to say was the same as you, Wade-Giles is crap, most phonetic systems designed by non-native speakers are, they may be exciting to academics but--no surprise then--have little real-world usefulness. The pinyin system, created by Chinese themselves as you well know, just makes much more sense. You have to learn the pronunciations of "q/x/r" etc but there are no double-duty consonants and on the whole it's just much more elegant and clear than anything the musty 19th century Euro-Americans came up with. Another example is the opaque and convoluted spelling system the French saddled the Vietnamese with, it's like the last kick in the crotch of their colonizing them.
End of rant.
#14 asiainmyblood has been a member since 15/2/2010. Posts: 6
my apologies. my intent wasn't sarcasm, but rather to lighten the mood after that buzzkill of a post.
it seems we all agree that transliteration systems are imperfect, by their very nature, because all they can do is approximate the actual non-romanized written script. i thought AjarnPasa was spot on with the comment that
"nothing beats learning the script. Anyone serious about learning the language should not hesitate in getting to grips with the script as soon as they can."
fortunately, thai script is remarkably easy to learn. it is basically just an alphabet, with a few interesting rules thrown in to determine tone.
If you want to learn vocab from here and are struggling with the vocab the best thing to do is cut and paste the thai into thai-language.com or thai2english.com. They have loads of audio files and it really helps with the tones.
#17 theChosenOne has been a member since 26/3/2012. Posts: 12
Learning all of that would be painful. neung bed yai is enough for me.
Words like this are hard to learn without hearing the sound several times otherwise they will just be confused.
Kŏr pâa chét dtua èek pěun
Thais in hotels know what air con and breakfest means so there's no need to learn all these things. They even print breakfast times on the info sheets.
"The air con’s broke"
Just say air con mai dii