In today’s Thai language post I thought I would focus on dining out in Thailand. Below are 10 phrases made up from conversations that you might find in a restaurant situation and some language notes to go with them that will hopefully make some things clearer. The post involves a foreigner named Mike, his Thai friend named Noy and the waitress which in Thai is ” Khon Seep”.
I have included links to the Thai alphabet for the real serious learners at the beginning of this post along with links to alphabet pronunciation and tonal explanation as Thai is a tonal language.
Thai Alphabet Links
By clicking on the link here and scrolling a bit you will find from Wikipedia The Thai Alphabet explained, simple vowels, consonants and lots of other information.
By clicking on the link here you can actually see and hear the Thai alphabet being pronounced
Something that might well be new to you, but that needs taking note of straight away is tones. Thai is a tonal language and every word or syllable is spoken in a different tone. There are five tones and they are
- Mid tone (m)
- Low tone (l)
- Falling tone (f)
- High tone (h)
- Rising tone (r)
Noy: Have you eaten yet?
thaan (m) khaao (f) laaeo (h) reuu (r) yang (m)
Mike: I have not eaten yet
yang (m) mai (f) dai (f) thaan (m)
If you get the chance to become friends with any Thai people whilst on holiday you will often hear the phrase ‘’have you eaten yet, thaan (m) khaao (f) ruu (r) yang (m)’’). The phrase is in fact used as a common greeting, it was the original Thai hello before ‘’sawatdee’’ made it’s introduction around the time of World War II. You can see where a main Thai priority lies, because whether you have eaten or not conversation should certainly continue over food, so I hope you are not already full.
Noy: Are you hungry?
khoon (m) hiu (r) mai (r)
Mike: I am Very hungry
Phohm (r) / di (l) chan (r) hiu (r) maak (f)
The words (phohm) and ( di chan) both mean I, but don’t forget that (phohm (r) is used by male speakers and (di (l) chan (r) is used by female speakers.
Noy: Shall we have lunch together?
bpai (m) thaan (m) aa (m) haan (r) glaang (m) wan (m) duay (f) gan (m) mai (r)
Don’t be surprised if at times you see or hear the word (khaao (f) meaning rice in place of the word (aahaan) meaning food. In Thailand rice is very much the staple food, so for example (‘’ thaan (m) aa (m) haan (r). To eat food’’) will often become ‘’ thaan (m) khaao (f), to eat rice or more generalised to eat food’’).
Once you are at the restaurant and have looked through the menu the waitress or waiter will come and ask you what you would like
Waitress: What would you like to order
rap (h) a (l) rai (m) kha (h)
Mike: Can I have fried rice please?
khaaw (r) khaao (f) phat (l) jaan (m) neung (l) khrap (h)
In phrase four I have provided polite particles to the end of each sentence. These particles are used to give extra politeness in more formal situations. Nothing is set in concrete about when to use them, but certainly with first time meetings and people you don’t know. The reason I have not used them during the rest of the phrases is that they don’t really need to be used when talking to friends or people in the service industry. However the waitress quite probably would add (kha) (h) when speaking to you. Anyway I cannot say I am perfect here as often I will still use a polite particle on the end when addressing the taxi-driver, waitress or whoever just to keep things polite. I am still in the belief that manners cost nothing and I despise the thought of ever thinking I am better than anyone else, but that is just the way I am wired I guess.
Waitress: What kind of fried rice would you like to order? Prawn, chicken or pork?
rap (h) khaao (f) phat (l) a (l) rai (m) muu (r) gai (l) reuu (r) goong (f)
Mike: I will have the chicken fried rice
ao (m) khaao (f) phat (l) gai (l) gaaw (f) laaeo (h) gan (m)
In this phrase the waitress uses (rap (h) meaning to receive or to have) in trying to establish what Mike would like to order, but Mike responds using (aw) (m) meaning to have or to want). The two words are similar, but the word (rap) (h)) which the waitress uses is slightly more formal and polite than (aw) (m).
Waitress: Do you want egg in it?
sai (l) khai (l) mai (r)
Language Note 1
The word (may) (r) at the end of the sentence asked by the waitress basically transforms the sentence in to a question so ‘’do you want egg in it?’’
Language Note 2
So if you want to reply yes to a (may (r)) question then all you do is repeat the verb which in this case is (sai) (l) meaning to put )
If you want to reply no to a (may) (r) question and this is where you might get confused you reply with the word for no or not which is (may) (f) but with a falling tone used in front of the verb. So the reply for not wanting egg in it would be ‘’may (f) sai (l)’’.
Waitress: Would you like to order anything else?
khoon (m) rap (h) a (l) rai (m) eek (l) mai (r)
Mike: I am full thank you
im (l) laaeo (h) khaawp (l) khoon (m) maak (f)
The word (khoon) (m) can be used in two ways, firstly it is used to address Thai people by putting the word (khoon) (m) in front of a Thai persons first name (whether male or female), much in the way of Miss, Mrs or Mr, but maybe with an even more polite implication. The word khoon (m) can later be dropped as the friendship increases. There is no need to apply the word (khoon) (m)) before the first name of a child .
The word (khoon) (m)) also means you as in the phrase above when the waitress asks ‘’ would you like to order anything else’’
Mike: Could I have the bill please
khaaw (r) gep (l) dtaang (m) duay (f)
There are a few ways to ask for the bill in this instance to ‘’ gep (l) tang (m)’’ literally means to collect money. Another phrase is ‘’chek bin’’ which is basically an Anglicization of ‘’ check bill’’
Mike: Thank you that was delicious
khaawp (l) khoon (m) maak (f) a (l) raawy (l) maak (f)
If there is one phrase to learn then I would suggest that ‘’a (l) roy (l) maak (f) to mean delicious’’ is certainly it. There is nothing that the Thai likes more than to hear that you highly enjoyed the food.
Mike: See you soon
laaeo (h) phohp (h) gan (m) ใหม่ (l)
For further clarification of vocabulary here or further vocabulary in general please visit the brilliant website
http://www.thai-language.com/ and use the dictionary there.
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