Tag: ภาษาไทย

Do you know why we call money เงิน /ngern/ or ตังค์ /dtaang/ and what ‘baht’ came from?

Do you know why we call money เงิน /ngern/ or ตังค์ /dtaang/ and what ‘baht’ came from?

If you think that it’s a coincidence, you are wrong. When we track back to the history of Thai coinage, the first Thai money was ‘เงินพดด้วง’ /ngern-pód-duâng/ aka “Bullet Money”. It goes back to the 13th centuries when The Sukhothai Kingdom was founded. Can you guess what kind of metal it produced? Yes, you are right. The bullet money made of silver.

เงินพดด้วงเงินพดด้วง /ngern-pód-duâng/ was called “Bullet Money” because of its round-shaped which made it look similar to a bullet with marks to show the origin. It was in circulation for 600 years until the Rattanakosin Kingdom.

Thai baht originated from a traditional unit of mass, like the pound. Its currency value was originally equivalent to silver of corresponding weight (15.2 grams). Nowadays we usually use a kilogram but บาท or baht is still the unit of mass when buying or selling gold and silver.

The monetary and financial system had been developed significantly in the reign of King Rama V. The first paper money, called หมาย /măay/, was issued due to an insufficiency of เงินพดด้วง /ngern-pód-duâng/. The banknote was also assigned to combat the counterfeit unsuccessfully because it was not popular at that time.

In 1897 the production of พดด้วง /pód-duâng/ was discontinued after King Rama IV had got a small man-powered coin production machine from Queen Victoria. The flat coins started to be produced and used alongside พดด้วง /pód-duâng/. HRH Prince Jayanta Mongkol devised the decimal system for the new coins. 100 satang is equal to 1 baht.

Although we might hardly buy anything with satang coins presently, people still refer to money by using the word ‘สตางค์’ /sà-dtaang/. When they speak faster in a hurry, they will cut the first syllable and shorten the length of the second syllable. It becomes ตังค์ /dtang/ finally.

Do you know why Thai names of the months are so loooong?

Do you know why Thai names of the months are so loooong?

As we know that Thailand had used a lunar calendar before the present solar calender. At that time all months were called simply by ordinal numbers. The first month is เดือนอ้าย /deuan-âay/, the second month is เดือนยี่ /deuan-yêe/, the third month is เดือนสาม /deuan-săam/, the forth month is เดือนสี่ /deuan-sèe/ respectively until เดือนสิบสอง /deuan-sìb-sŏrng/ In case you wonder, อ้าย /âay/ and ยี่ /yêe/ can also refer to one and two in order.

Although there are 12 months in total, it is not compatible with the months in Gregorian calendar. Each lunation is approximately 29½ days; therefore, the months alternate between 29 and 30 days. That means a lunar year is only 354 days approximately. That’s why we can’t say that เดือนอ้าย /deuan-âay/ is January.

The lunar calendar was replaced with the current system in 1888. Therefore, new months were created for the solar calendar.

HRH Prince Devavongse Varopakarn, Siamese prince and diplomat during the reign of Rama V and Rama VI, was interested in astronomy and astrology following his father, King Mongkut (Rama IV). He generated new names of the months in solar calendar by following the zodiac.

The twelve astrological signs:

Aries เมษ /mêd/ + อายน  /aa-yon/ เมษายน

/me-săa-yon/

Taurus พฤษภ /préu-sòb/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ พฤษภาคม

/préu-sà-paa-kom/

Gemini มิถุน /mí-tŭn/ + อายน /aa-yon/ มิถุนายน

/mí-tù-naa-yon/

Cancer กรกฎ /gà-ra-gòd/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ กรกฎาคม

/gà-ra-gà-daa-kom/

Leo สิงห /sǐng-hà/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ สิงหาคม

/sǐng-hăa-kom/

Virgo กันย /gan/ + อายน /aa-yon/ กันยายน

/gan-yaa-yon/

Libra ตุล /dtun/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ ตุลาคม

/dtù-laa-kom/

Scorpio พิจิก /pí-jìg/

พฤศจิก /préu-sà- jìg/

+ อายน /aa-yon/ พฤศจิกายน

/préu-sà- jì-gaa-yon/

Sagittarius ธนู /ta-noo/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ ธันวาคม

/tan-waa-kom/

Capricorn มกร /má-gà-rá/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ มกราคม

/má-gà-raa-kom/

Aquarius กุมภ์ /gum/ + อาพนธ

/aa-pa-na-ta/

กุมภาพันธ์

/gum-paa-pan/

Pisces มีน /meen/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ มีนาคม

/mee-naa-kom/

Remarks: อายน /aa-yon/, อาคม /aa-kom/ and อาพนธ /aa-pa-na-ta/ means ‘arrival of’ He used 3 different suffixes to differentiate the number of days in each month: 30, 31, and 28 or 29 respectively.

Oh! I almost forget to mention that they are not Thai but Sanskrit compound words. That’s why they are elegant, meaningful and too hard to remember. LOL Luckily, you can also say เดือน /deuan/ + number, such as เดือนห้า /deaun-hâa/ to talk about May. We do understand what you mean even if it is not common practice here.

All in all, the names of each month means ‘an arrival of each zodiac sign‘. Interesting?

Zodiac_CC.svg

Do you know when Thailand changed its new year to the 1st of January?

Do you know when Thailand changed its new year to the 1st of January?

Thais had used a lunar calendar since 1249 (1792 BE) in Sukhothai Kingdom. We counted the first day of the first waning moon (during November to January) as a New Year’s day.

At that time, people followed Shalivahana era or Saka era: มหาศักราช, in order to calculate a year. Shalivahana was a legendary emperor of ancient India, ruling from Pratishathana or Paithan, Maharashtra presently.

Later Thais accepted believes of Brahmins from Hindu. The 1st of the fifth waxing moon became the New Year which was originally consistant with Songkran for Thais (following the lunar calender). That’s why we called Songkran as the Thai New Year presently.

After 1569 (2112 BE) during Ayutthaya Kingdom’s reign, Chulasakarat: จุลศักราช was used officially in Thailand until 1888 (2431 BE); however, the first year of Chulasakarat started in 638 (1181 BE). It is a lunisolar calendar derived from the Burmese calendar.

King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) adopted the Thai solar calendar as the Siamese version of the Gregorian calendar in 1888 as the legal calendar replacing the Thai lunar calendar.

He also decreed a change in vulgar reckoning to the Rattanakosin Era or Rattanakosin Sok: รัตนโกสินทร์ศก. It began year 1 on 6th April 1782 when King Buddhayotfa (Rama I), the foundation of the Chakri Dynasty, found Bangkok as capital.

Before New Year coincided with the date calculated for Songkran, when the Sun transits the constellation of Aries, the first astrological sign in the Zodiac. King Chulalongkorn decreed the first of April to be the New Year’s Day in the following year after adopting the solar calendar.

After using Rattanakosin Sok for 24 years, Buddhist Era (abbreviation BE), พุทธศักราช has been decreed officially in 1913 (2456 BE). What’s more, on 6 September 1940, Prime Minister Plaek Pibulsongkram, announced the 1st of January 1941 (2484 BE) to be the official New Year from now on.

Nowadays, the Common Era New Year’s Day (1 January) and Songkran (13 – 15 April), the Thai traditional New Year are important public holidays in Thailand.

For Thais, we will say สวัสดีปีใหม่ /sà-wàd-dee bpee mài/ to each other. I wish you a prosperous and healthy year!

สวัสดีปีใหม่ค่ะ

sà-wàd-dee bpee mài kà

 

Do you know any Thai prefixes and suffixes?

Do you know any Thai prefixes and suffixes?

Similar to other languages, Thai language also has many prefixes and suffixes to create new words. Many of them come from Pali-Sanskrit or Khmer. To understand the meaning of prefixes and suffixes will help you to guess the meaning of new words easily.

Today we will talk about a few of them that refer to a person or people.

นัก /nág/: prefix

– A person who does it regularly, used with nouns or verbs.

Example:

  • นักเรียน /nág-rian/ = person+study => student
  • นักท่องเที่ยว /nág-tôrng-tiâw/ = person+travel => tourist, traveler
  • นักคิด /nág-kíd/ = person+think => thinker

–  A person who is good at doing this or do it as his/her job.

Example:

  • นักข่าว /nág-kàaw/ = person+news => news reports, journalist
  • นักดนตรี /nág-don-dtree/ = person+music => musician
  • นักกีฬา /nág-gee-laa/ = person+sport => athlete, sportsman
  • นักเขียน /nág-kiăn/ = person+write => writer, author
  • นักบิน /nág-bin/ = person+fly => pilot

ผู้ /pôo/: prefix

–  A person, used with nouns, verbs or adjectives, to create a new noun.

Example:

  • ผู้หญิง /pôo-yĭng/ = person+female => lady, woman
  • ผู้ป่วย /pôo-bpuày/ = person+sick => patient
  • ผู้ชาย /pôo-chaay/ = person+male => man
  • ผู้ใหญ่ /pôo-yài/ = person+big => adult, chief
  • ผู้จัดการ /pôo-jàd-gaan/ = person+manager => manager

Sometimes you might even hear people say นักเรียน /nág-rian/ and ผู้เรียน /pôo-rian/. What’s the different?

When we say นักเรียน /nág-rian/, we are talking about students in general. We say ผู้เรียน /pôo-rian/ to specify a group of students.

If you see the word in the introduction of a textbook, it refers to students who use this book particularly. If you see the word in a leaflet of a school, it refers to students who study there.

Although we use ‘นัก’ /nág/ more often when talking about occupations, some words might created by the prefix ‘ผู้’ /pôo/, such as ผู้จัดการ /pôo-jàd-gaan/ manager, ผู้กำกับการแสดงภาพยนตร์ /pôo-gam-gàb-gaan-sà-daeng pàab-pà-yon/ film director, ผู้พิพากษา /pôo-pí-pàag-săa/ judge, etc.

กร /gorn/: suffix

–  A doer used as a suffix of Pali-Sanskrit compound words.

  • กรรมกร /gam-ma-gorn/ = work+doer => worker, laborer
  • เกษตรกร /gà-sèd-dtrà-gorn/ = field/land/farm+doer => farmer
  • วิศวกร /wíd-sà-wà-gorn/ = whole+doer/creator => engineer

There three words can mean something else as well but it’s very common to refer to ‘a person’ when we use them as a prefix or a suffix.

Do you know any other words with นัก /nág/, ผู้ /pôo/ or กร /gorn/?

Do you know ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jeen/ didn’t come from China?

Do you know ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jeen/ didn’t come from China?

ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jeen/ is one kind of noodles, made from rice flour, in Thailand. In the northern part, it is called ‘ขนมเส้น’ /kà-nŏm-sên/. Esan people call it ‘ข้าวปุ้น’ /kâaw-bpûn/ and it is known as ‘โหน้มจีน’ /nóm-jeen/ in the southern part.

ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jee/ has a ridiculous name because it’s totally not ขนม /kà-nŏm/ in Thai people’s eyes and it’s not from China if you must know.

What is ขนม /kà-nŏm/?

If you look it up, you will see meanings such as sweets, dessert, candy, etc. Actually, the definition of ขนม /kà-nŏm/ is a lot wider than that. We count snacks, such as potato chips, French fried, biscuits, dried fruits, nuts & seeds, etc. as ขนม /kà-nŏm/. With this range, ขนม /kà-nŏm/ can be sweet, sour, salty, even spicy. Thai people especially girls love having it any time.

When a student asks me what ขนม /kà-nŏm/ is, I always answer simply “It’s something that you enjoy eating. Normally it’s not healthy. It can’t really make your stomach full but it tastes soooooo good!” LOL

If ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jee/ didn’t come from China, where was it from?

It was originally Mon food from Burma. The word ‘ขนมจีน’ /kà-nŏm-jeen/ was from ‘ขฺนํจินฺ’, คะนอมจีน /ká-nom-jeen/,  ‘คะนอม’/ká-nom/ means noodles and  ‘จีน’/jeen/ means be cooked.

Thai people love having ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jee/ with various soup or curry. They like to eat fresh vegetables together with it. Some people like me also love having it with ส้มตำ /sôm-dtam/, aka Thai green papaya salad.

noodle-2402592_960_720

Surprisingly, ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jee/ provides less calories than other rice noodles and glass noodles. So, let’s eat ขนมจีน /kà-nŏm-jee/ if you are on a diat. LOL

Do you know why we have ฃ and ฅ?

Do you know why we have ฃ and ฅ?

If you’d like to learn how to read and write Thai, normally you will start with alphabets, right?

In Thai language, there are 44 consonant letters. It’s funny because there are 2 characters which we don’t use anymore, but we still count them as part of our alphabets. Any ideas?

Right, I’m talking about ฃ and ฅ.

So, when did ฃ and ฅ be created and for what reason?

For the first question, we have got evidence from the King Ramkhamhaeng Insription, aka Ram Khamhaeng Stele (composed in 1292), that we did have these two letters starting from the beginning.

Referring to the inscription, you could find some examples of ฃ and ฅ, such as ฃึ้น, ฃุน, ฃาม, ฅำ, ฅู้ม, ฅวาม etc. and these two still be used until Rattanakosin Era (1782 – present).

ฃ and ฅ were left from the writing system firstly when the first Thai typewriter was developed by Edwin Hunter McFarland in 1892. Why? No space for all letters!

Although these two were still be used popularly in King Vajiravudh’s reign (1910 – 1925), their usage became less and less after that until there were only one word of each left: เฃตร and ฅอ.

When Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram, locally known as Chomphon Por; contemporarily known as Phibun in the West, served as the Prime Minister of Thailand (1948 – 1957), many consonant letters and vowels were eliminated from the writing system. Of course, ฃ and ฅ were included.

The others consonants have resumed their usage after Chomphon Por’s period of time but not these two consonants.

So, we are back to the second question. If they were not that important why did we have them?

From many of Thai specialists’ assumptions, they do believe that at the beginning, ฃ and ฅ must represent different sounds from ข and ค respectively but nobody really knows which sounds exactly.

Do you know all the Thai consonants which represent /k/ sound?

Do you know where Thai proverb: งู ๆ ปลา ๆ /ngōo-ngōo bplāa-bplāa/ is from?

Do you know where Thai proverb: งู ๆ ปลา ๆ /ngōo-ngōo bplāa-bplāa/ is from?

I believe that you have heard this proverb before. Many of you might even try to say it yourselves, right? When a foreigner would like to explain how good his/her Thai is, it’s pretty common to hear “พูดภาษาไทยงู ๆ ปลา ๆ” /pôod paa-săa Thai ngōo-ngōo bplāa-bplāa/

งู /ngōo/ means snake and ปลา /bplāa/ means fish. It’s quite strange to hear people say “snake snake fish fish” to refer to ‘not well or unskillfully’

Actually, you might notice that there are so many expressions about fish in Thai language, such as กินข้าวกินปลา /gīn kâaw gīn bplāa/, ในน้ำมีปลา ในนามีข้าว /nāi nám mēe bplāa  nāi nāa mēe kâaw/, and ข้าวปลาอาหาร /kâaw bplāa āa-hăan/. It implies that fish and rice have been our main food since King Ram Khamhaeng’s reign (c. 1237/1247 – 1298).

Among many kinds of fresh-water fish, the Asian swamp eels are easily found everywhere in Thailand. Thai people have known and eaten them since the ancient time. The famous dishes are “ต้มปลาไหล” /dtôm bplāa-lăi/ or commonly called “ต้มเปรต” /dtôm bprèd/, spicy eel soup, and ผัดเผ็ดปลาไหล /pàd pèd bplāa-lăi/, spicy stir-fried eel.

The Asian swamp eels, also known as the rice-field eels or the swamp eels are native to Asia. They have elongated, snake-like bodies with tapering tails and blunt snouts. They don’t appear to have any fins. Their scaleless skins are darker green or brown on the top. They can grow to a length of three feet long and weigh up to one pound. They are sometimes mistaken for snakes.

Back to the topic, “งู ๆ ปลา ๆ” /ngōo-ngōo bplāa-bplāa/ is assumed that it is from going fishing in a canal or a rice field. If you are not experienced, you might not see the differences between swamp eels and snakes. That’s why, we call “งู ๆ ปลา ๆ” /ngōo-ngōo bplāa-bplāa/.