Readers' Submissions

Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 370

  • Written by Dana
  • March 9th, 2013
  • 11 min read


A Thai friend of mine here in the States gave me a little book to help me learn Thai. I doubt if she actually looked at it before she gave it to me. It was a gift giving experience. It is a little blue book called: EASY SPOKEN THAI — a practical speaking dictionary of the Thai language by Gordon H. Allison B. A. It was originally published and sold by the Chalermnit Bookshop, 1-2 Erawan arcade, Bangkok for 60 BAHT or $3.00 U. S. The format was slightly different, especially for a so-called book for beginners to the Thai language. It is sentences in English followed by the same sentences in phonetic Thai. Some of the entries in this book always seemed amusing or odd to me. And some of the statements in this tourist or early expat primer also seemed challengeable. For example:

A. "You do not have to understand the tone rules in order to be able to speak, read, and write Thai." (p. 3)

Yes, you do. Thai is a tonal language. What is wrong with this guy?

B. "With the assistance of our "EASY SPOKEN THAI" you can speak some meaningful Thai YOUR VERY FIRST DAY IN THAILAND (capital letters the authors).

No you can't. Not a single person on the planet Earth believes this. What is wrong with the author telling people this?

Anyway, now on to some examples in this book.

1. "Are you jealous of her (him)?" — KHOON IT-CHA THUH (KHAO) REU?

When is a tourist going to need this? Stupid.

2. "Are there any military police in this area?" — THAEO NEE MEE THA-HAN SA-RA-WAT BANG MAI?

When is a tourist going to need this? Looney.

3. "Are these roads useable during the rainy season?" — RA-WANG REU-DOO FON THA-NON LAO NEE YANG SA-MAT CHAI DAI REU MAI?

Once again, what is the author thinking? How did this get in a book with the title EASY SPOKEN THAI? I'll bet no tourist or expat has ever used this question.

4. "Can you please help me get back to my unit?" — KHOON JA KA-ROO-NA CHUAY HAI PHOM KLAP PAI THEE NUAY KHAWNG PHOM, DAI MAI KHRAP?

Sure, no problem; get back in touch with me in two years when I have finally learned how to say this. Silly and totally impractical. Gordon H. Allison is an idiot and he probably teaches Thai to foreigners somewhere in Bangkok.

5. "Can you remember me?" — KHOON JAM PHOM DAI MAI KHRAP?

I give up, when would this be useful? So useful that it should be in a beginning 'learn-to-speak-Thai' book.

6. "the day after tomorrow" — MA-REUN-NEE


7. "Did anyone come to see me while I was gone?" — MEE KHRAI MA HA CHAN BANG MAI KHA-NA THEE CHAN MAI YOO?

Yes, people were trying to find you so that they could get their money back on this stupid book.

8. "Do you hate me?" — KHOON KLIAT PHOM MAI?

Over the top stupid and useless. Can you imagine this guy trying to get a whole class to learn this?

9. "Does he have a sense of responsibility? — KHAO MEE KHWAM ROO-SEUK RAP PHEET CHAWP DEE REU?

Ok, amaze me; when would I use this?

10. "Does the watch-dog bite?" — SOO-NAK FAO BAN KAT REU PLAO KHRAP?

Of course the watch dog bites. It is a watch dog.

11. "Don't annoy him now." — KHA-NA NEE YAI PAI KUAN JAI KHAO LUHY

How about later? Can I annoy him later? Foolish waste of time to torture yourself to learn this.

12. "Don't let him come back here again." — YA HAI KHAO KLAP MA THEE-NEE EEK.

Somebody should say this to the author of this silly EASY SPOKEN THAI book. Or maybe to the watch-dog.

13. "Go to the post office and check our post-office box." — JONG PAI THEE THEE-THAM-KAN PRAI-SA-NEE LAE PUHT KHAI TOO JOT-MAI KHAWNG RAO

I doubt if a five year expat can say this.

14. "How do you like military life?" — KHOON CHAWP CHEE-WIT KAN PEN THA-HAN REU MAI YANG RAI?

I doubt if a 15 year expat has ever said this. But we are going to learn it. Of course we are. Nonsense.

15. "How long have you been in the military service?" — KHOON PEN THA-HAN MA NAN THAO-RAI LAEO?

Ok, I'll ask the question. I'll be the sacrificial node. I'll be the bad guy. Is Gordon H. Allison B. A. gay? Is he hanging around bars near military bases wearing Mickey Mouse underpants and holding a Barbra Streisand album? Hey, I've got no problem with a gay teacher of Thai but all these entries regarding the military are starting to creep me out. And there is more to come. Much more.

16. "How many brothers and sisters have you?" — KHOON MEE PHEE-NAWNG KEE KHON KHRAP?

This is a question that one Thai might ask another Thai but it is not an appropriate use of a foreigner's time in a 'learn-to-speak-Thai' class.

17. "How many people live in this village?" — MOO-BAN NEE MEE PHON-LA-MEUANG A-SAI YOO THAO-RAI?

When and why would you ask this?

18. "How were you swindled?" — PEN YANG-RAI KHOON JEUNG THOOK LAWK-LUANG?

When I bought this book.

19. "I am in the army (navy, air force)." — PHOM PEN THA-HAN BOK

I'm telling you, this guy is a fruit loop with a thing for men in uniform. Now he is going to have all of his foreigner students learning to say that they are in the military. Can you say in Thai the word INSANE?

20. "I did not see him in his office." — PHOM MAI DAI HEN KHAO THEE SAM-NAK-NGAN KHAWNG KHAO.

Look in one of the gay bars near the military base.

21. "I need a new cook (gardner). Can you recommend someone?" — get ready for this:


I'll get back to you in three years when I have finally learned to say this without tones and I am understood by Thais, that is; the Thais who do not run when they hear me speak.

22. "I prefer not to say anything more until I have discussed this with my attorney." — Ok, get ready; you are supposed to learn this:


Which brings to mind the question: Are you insane? Anyway, how many Thais do you think can say this? And if they do use the proper tones
(which they will), are you going to understand them? Well, if the answer is No, of what use is this book? I say we chase down the author, Gordon H. Allison B. A., and beat him with sticks.

23. "If you improve your work, I'll raise your salary." — THA KHOON THAM NGAN DEE KHEUN CHAN KAW JA PHUHM NGUHN DEUAN HAI.

Thanks, but I still have not learned how to say "Where is the bathroom?" I have to wear adult diapers in this country.

24. "Is there a life-guard here?" — THEE NEE MEE PHOO KHAWY CHUAY KHOOM KAN CHEE-WIT MAI?

Maybe he can help me find the toilet.

25. "Is this place off-limits for military personnel?" — SA-THAN-THEE NEE PEN KHET HAM THA-HAN KHAO CHAI MAI?

Not for you Gordo, come right in. I like your pink shorts and your pink hat and your pink pants and your pink flip-flops.

26. "Is it against regulations?" — MAN PEN KAN KHAT TAW KOT KHAW-BANG-KHAP?

Not for trannies.

27. "Jellyfish! Be careful!" — MAENG-KA-PHROON! RA-WANG!

No comment necessary.

28. "Kindly give him this book for me." — KA-ROO-NA AO NANG-SEU LEM NEE PAI HAI KHAO.

Now Gordon is just out of ideas and his editor is insisting on nine more pages.

29. "Look out. The train is coming." — RA-WANG! ROT FAI KAM-LANG MA!

Good, maybe it will hit the author of this silly time wasting EASY SPOKEN THAI book.

30. "Many people." — LAI KHON.


31. "No, not yet, but I'd like to try." — YANG KHRAP, YANG MAI KHUHY, TAE PHOM YAK JA LAWNG DOO.

I have an expat friend in Pattaya who hears this a lot from girls. He is still waiting to get to the 'I'd like to try' part of the relationship.

32. "Oh, I'm sorry but this dance has already been taken." — MAI SIA-JAI KHA, PHLENG NEE MEE KHON KHAW TEN SIA LAEO.

Ok, imagine a class full of employees of international companies who have been ordered to learn Thai and they are learning this.

33. "Oh, what a terrible pity." — TAI JEENG, NA SIA-DAI MAK.

Yes, a terrible pity; the money you spent on this book. You could have spent the money on egg rolls and a boiled egg.

34. "Outsiders not allowed!" — BOOK-KHON PHAI NAWK HAM KHAO!

Ok, let us try and be fair to me. Honestly, when is a tourist or an expat going to have the need to say this? I think Gordon just lost it. Probably got turned down at another gay serviceman's bar.

35. "Please don't disappoint me tomorrow night." — get ready: PROT YA HAI PHOM TAWNG PHEET WANG NAI KHEUN WAN PHROONG NEE NA KHRAP.

Ya, I don't expect your tones to be correct but I want you to look hot.

36. "Please don't take off your shoes." — MAI TAWNG THAWT RAWNG-THAO RAWK KHRAP.

Finally something useful. I feel the need to say this in the Kingdom at least three times per week. Not.

37. "Please take me to this military unit." — KA-ROO-NA PHA PHOM PAI THEE NUAY THA-HAN NUAY NEE.

I want to show off my pink rhinestone flip-flops.

38. "She's a very pretty young lady (little girl). — THUH PEN YEENG-SAO (DEK-SAO) THEE SUAY MAK.

Useful for the male tourist who wants to be accused of pedophilia.

39. "Watch out. It's going to explode." — RA-WANG. MAN KAM-LANG JA RA-BUHT.

Gordon has taken too much Viagra.

40. "What are your military duties?" — KHOON MEE NA-THEE THAM A-RAI THANG THA-HAN?


"What branch of military service are you in?" — KHOON PEN THA-HAN SANG-KAT YOO NAI LAO NAI?


"What is your MOS (military occupational specialty)?" — KHOON CHAM-NAN KAN THA-HAN NAI THANG MAI?


"What is your rank please?" — KHOON MEE YOT PEN A-RAI KHRAP?


"Who is commanding officer of this unit?" — KHRAI PEN PHOO BANG-KHAP BAN-CHA NUAY NEE?

Give it a rest Gordon. We all know you tried to get into the Thai military and they turned you down.

41. "Are you a gay military man?" — PHOM GAY FAGGOT KUHN HANSUM DEE MAK MILITARY MAN?

Ok, I'm just being silly; but you have to admit it is a little creepy to have so many references to the military and military bases and servicemen in a book that is supposed to be about learning to speak Thai. I'm no editor enthusiast but maybe a little input from an editor might have been helpful. I imagine the conversation might have gone something like this:

Editor: Hi Gordon.
Gordon: What's up?
Editor: I noticed that there are numerous military references in your EASY SPOKEN THAI book. I wonder if before we go to galley proofs if we might consider how relevant they are to students just starting to use the Thai language?
Gordon: I'm not sure I understand.
Editor: Well, let me give you a personal example. My favorite thing to do is to play croquet wearing women's' undergarments, but if I were to include references like these in a 'learn-to-speak-Thai' book someone might challenge me on their relevance.
Gordon: What kind of undergarments?

42. "Why have you arrested me, Sir?" — KHOON JAP-KOOM PHOM THAM-MAI KHRAP?

You ask too many questions about military guys.

43. "Why have we been arrested?" — THAM-MAI RAO JEUNG DAI THOOK TAM-RUAT JAP?

See 42 above.

Hey, and this is only a sample kats and kittens of Gordon H. Allison's book EASY SPOKEN THAI. There are approximately 994 entries. Because of its stunningly impractical entries and fraudulent notion that you do not need to speak tones correctly to be understood in a tonal language it can be an amusing book to read. I think my favorite entry was:

"Everything." — THOOK SING THOOK YANG.

I like the way THOOK SING THOOK YANG looks in English and I believe I could learn to say the tones correctly. From now on, anytime a Thai says anything to me; I am just going to say: