Tag: speaking Thai

Do you know what the names of 7 days of the week in Thai mean?

If you remember what kind of calendar we used before the present Thai solar calendar, you will know that we used lunar calendar. In order to tell the date at that time, we just followed the moon whether it was waxing, ขึ้น /kêun/ or waning, แรม /raem/. For example: แรม ๑๕ ค่ำ เดือน ๘ /raem 15 kâm deuan 8/ means ‘waning of the 15th Night of the 8th Lunar Month’.  In case some or you might not know ค่ำ /kâm/ means night or nighttime.

However, we received the idea about 7 days of the week and the colors of each day from Hindus.

วันอาทิตย์ /wan-aa-tíd/, Sunday, is the first day of the week. It came from Sanskrit word ‘อาทตย’ means the sun. Red is the color of Sunday because Lord Surya, the Hindu god of the Sun, has red skin.

วันจันทร์ /wan-jan/, Monday, is the second of the week. Sanskrit word ‘จนทร’ referred to the moon. Lord Chandra, Moon God, has yellow skin, thus yellow is the color of Monday.

วันอังคาร /wan-ang-kaan/, Tuesday, the third day of the week. Although the Sanskrit root of ‘องคาร’ meant an ember or a charcoal, Lord Mangala, aka Lohit (meaning red), rules the day. His is the god of war and red is his color. Nevertheless, the color of the day in Thailand is pink. This day is also represented as The Mars.

วันพุธ /wan-púd/, Wednesday, a Sanskrit word, indicates connoisseur, pundit, expert. Can you guess which planet is พุธ /púd/? Right, it is Mercury. Wednesday is dedicated to Lord Vithal, an incarnation of Krishna and leaf green color represents the day.

วันพฤหัสบดี /wan-pá-réu-hàd-sà-bor-dee/, Thursday, the fifth day of the week. Its root ‘วฤหสปติ’ means god who is the teacher of all angels and therefore Thursday is assigned to Vishnu and Brihaspati, the Guru of Devas. The word also refers to the fifth giant planet from the sun. Yes, I mean Jupiter. Reddish yellow is the color of Thursday in Thailand.

วันศุกร์ /wan-sùg/, Friday, or ‘ศุกร’ in Sanskrit denotes merit or bright. Friday is devoted to Mother Goddess ‘Shakti’ and Shukra or Venus. In Thai, we call Venus ‘ศุกร์’ /sùg/ as well.

วันเสาร์ /wan-sao/, Saturday, ‘เสาร’ doesn’t only represent heaven in Sanskrit but also indicates Saturn when we talk about planet. In Hinduism, Saturday is reverent to Lord Shani. Owning to his black skin, black is the color of the day in Hindu belief. However, in Thailand, it is dark purple not black.

Thais do know not only when their birthday is but also which day is their birthday. And you? Do you know which day is yours?

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 when Thailand moved its new year to the 1st of January?

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

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

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

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

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. Its first year began on 6th April 1782 when King Buddhayotfa (Rama I), the founder of the Chakri Dynasty, laid the foundation of Bangkok as a 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 year following the adoption of the solar calendar.

After using Rattanakosin Sok for 24 years, Buddhist Era (abbreviation BE), พุทธศักราช was 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 then 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 on New Year’s Day. 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

These three words can mean something else as well but they commonly 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 what สวัสดี /sà-wàd-dēe/ mean?

Do you know what สวัสดี /sà-wàd-dēe/ mean?

sà-wàd-dēe kà

This is the first word that we will use to greet each other. It might also be the first Thai word that you know but in reality it is not Thai. Actually, this is a Sanskrit word, created by Phraya Upakitsinlapasan (1879 – 1941) for greeting between students and professors in the faculty of Liberal Arts, Chulalongkorn University when he worked as a professor there. It became the official greeting word in 1943 by Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram (1897 – 1964), the Prime Minister of Thailand at that time.

สวัสดี /sà-wàd-dēe/ is a compound word from a prefix สุ /sù/ (meaning good, beautiful, easy) and a word อสฺติ /àd-sà-dtì/ (meaning there is, there are, have). When these two words merged together following the grammar rules, สุ /sù/ became สว /sà-wà/. Plusing อสฺติ /àd-sà-dtì/, สวสฺติ /sà-wàd-dì/ means ‘Wish (you) goodness and virtue!’ It reminds me of the phrase “May the force be with you!” Does it ring a bell? LOL

This word was originally a short vowel sound for all syllables but Phraya Upakitsinlapasan changed the last syllable into a long sound to make it sound better.

After that, there were some more greeting words created such as อรุณสวัสดิ์ /à-run-sà-wàd/ for ‘good morning’, ทิวาสวัสดิ์ /tí-waa-sà-wàd/ for ‘good afternoon’, สายัณห์สวัสดิ์ /săa-yan-sà-wàd/ for ‘good evening’ and ราตรีสวัสดิ์ /raa-dtee-sà-wàd/ for ‘good night’. However, these words are not as popular as สวัสดี /sà-wàd-dēe/ which we can use any time during the day. Only อรุณสวัสดิ์ /à-run-sà-wàd/ for ‘good morning’ and ราตรีสวัสดิ์ /raa-dtee-sà-wàd/ for ‘good night’ are still used until now.

sà-wàd-dēe kà!
May the virtue be with you!

Do you know why we say โมง /moeng/ ทุ่ม /tûm/ and ตี /dtee/ for telling time?

Do you know why we say โมง /moeng/ ทุ่ม /tûm/ and ตี /dtee/ for telling time?

There are 2 different systems to tell time in Thai. The easiest one is the official way. We will use 0 to 24 following by a word นาฬิกา /naa-lí-gaa/. นาฬิกา /naa-lí-gaa/ means clock, watch or o’clock. It’s very simple but nobody uses it in spoken language. I mean, you can talk with people by using this system but please don’t expect anyone else who are Thai to refer to this system when talking about time.

So, how do Thai people tell time in general?

ฆ้องโหม่ง

 

In the ancient time when people didn’t have watches, clocks everywhere like now. A City Hall or a temple was responsible for telling time. During the daytime, they would hit a kong. People thought that its sounds was like ‘moeng’ (โหม่ง) so, they said ‘moeng’

 

 

At night, they changed the instruments. From 7 P.M. until midnight, they hit a drum instead. People heard its sound like ‘dtum’ (ตุ้ม) so they said ‘tum’. After midnight, it was not clear what exactly was the instrument for telling time. In the peaceful time, it might be possible that no one was awake the whole night to tell time. Anyway, they assumed that some kind of metal will be used to hit from 1 A.M. until 5 A.M. That’s why we use the word ตี /dtee/, meaning hit, slap, etc.

Official Time

(24-hour based system)

6-hour based system

(Originally)

6-hour based system

(Nowadays)

1 naa-lí-gaa dtee 1 dtee 1
2 naa-lí-gaa dtee 2 dtee 2
3 naa-lí-gaa dtee 3, 3 yaam dtee 3
4 naa-lí-gaa dtee 4 dtee 4
5 naa-lí-gaa dtee 5 dtee 5
6 naa-lí-gaa dtee 6, yâm-rûng 6 moeng-cháo
7 naa-lí-gaa 1 moeng-cháo 7 moeng-cháo
8 naa-lí-gaa 2 moeng-cháo 8 moeng-cháo
9 naa-lí-gaa 3 moeng-cháo 9 moeng-cháo
10 naa-lí-gaa 4 moeng-cháo 10 moeng
11 naa-lí-gaa 5 moeng-cháo, pen 11 moeng
12 naa-lí-gaa tîang, tîang-wan, yâm-tîang tîang, tîang-wan
13 naa-lí-gaa bàay 1 moeng bàay moeng
14 naa-lí-gaa bàay 2 moeng bàay 2, 2 moeng
15 naa-lí-gaa bàay 3 moeng bàay 3, 3 moeng
16 naa-lí-gaa bàay 4 moeng bàay 4 (moeng), 4 moeng-yen
17 naa-lí-gaa bàay 5 moeng 5 moeng-yen
18 naa-lí-gaa 6 moeng-yen, yâm-kâm 6 moeng-yen
19 naa-lí-gaa 1 dtûm 1 dtûm
20 naa-lí-gaa 2 dtûm 2 dtûm
21 naa-lí-gaa 3 dtûm, yaam 1 3 dtûm
22 naa-lí-gaa 4 dtûm 4 dtûm
23 naa-lí-gaa 5 dtûm 5 dtûm
24 naa-lí-gaa, 0 naa-lí-gaa tîang-keun, 6 dtûm, 2 yaam tîang-keun