Sunday, January 12, 2014

Indic Lao Script - Script with Pali and Sanskrit letters

The post is an updated version of my previous one
This version of the Lao script is called buddha pait sabhā chandanapūrī. (อักษรลาวสบับพุทธบัณฑิตสภาจันทน์บูรี) It was created by Dr Mahasila Viravong in 1935.

The goal was to use more letters to write Lao words of Pali and/or Sanskrit origin. Consequently, fourteen letters were added in this edition which are ฆ ฉ ซ ญ ฏ ฐ ฑ ฒ ณ ธ ภ ศ ษ ฬ.

The current government of Laos PDR however does not adopt this edition of the script. The current version used in the republic is highly simplified. Unlike Thai, a large portion of Indic letters are missing, and the spelling does not reflect the etymology of the words.

All letters in this edition have Thai counterparts. Thus, if you can read Thai, reading this version of Lao script will be easy.

Why this script?
There are people who argue that Lao should be written with this version of the script. One of the many people includes the author of "phasa lan xang" by Somchit Phanlak (2012) who wrote the whole book with this script. He along with many scholars argue that there are several good reasons why Lao should be written in this version of the script.

1. etymological spellings and elimination of ambiguities (homophones)
Many argue that this Indic Lao script would eliminate certain ambiguities among some words that are homophonous, i.e. different words that sound the same.
For example, this script would make a distinction among sat ฉัตร (a type of ceremonial umbrella), sat ສັຕວ໌ (animal), and sat ສັຕຍ໌ (honest), whereas the current script used in the republic would spell all these three words the same way: sat ສັດ.

2. people would quickly know the meanings of words
Some people argue that due to the ambiguities engendered by the current script, people are uncertain of names that are important to know. Such words include the name of the capital city of Laos, Vientiane "city of sandalwood",  and the names of the speakers themselves which mostly are derived from Pali and/or Sanskrit. People often mistake the city's name for "the city of the moon" because "sandalwood" and "moon" are homophonous in Lao; they are both pronounced as chan (/t͡ɕàn/). If this script was used, different "silent letters" of these two words would disambiguate such ambiguity: "sandalwood" would be spelled ຈັນທນ໌ and "moon" ຈັນທຣ໌. Additionally, some Lao people are not sure what their given names mean. For example, if one's given name was or was composed of wat, he/she might not be sure what his/her name means because wat can mean different things: temple (ວັດ), speech (ວັຈນ໌), feces (ວັຈຈ໌), punishment (ວັຊ), or circle (วัฏ) etc. (Phanlak, 2012)

3. this script would help people learn foreign languages faster
Many argue that the extra letters can be used to write non-Indic foreign words--particularly English, and thus can aid people in learning English or memorizing English spelling. For example, the extra letters will be able to write words such as แลัซ์ "latch" and ฮารธ์ "hearth" (Phanlak, 2012).

There are other arguments in favor of this version by other people. One of them says that if people are write according to how to speak (reflecting their own pronunciations not etymology), there will never be a unified spelling system because there are different Lao dialects with different pronunciations.

Image from the old post

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tai Languages Have a Word for "Three Days after Today" and Why They are Different

Non-Thai languages in this blog entry are transliterated with Thai letters.

One interesting fact about Tai languages investigated in this entry is that they have words that refer to days that do not exist in English and many other languages. In particular, while there are words for "day before yesterday--ereyesterday" and "day after tomorrow--overmorrow", these Tai languages also have a word for "three days after today".

Section I contains words in Tai languages which have been transliterated with Thai letters. Section II contains the pronunciation of these words for those who are interested in learning how to say these words. Sections III to VI contain explanations that may account for why these words are the way they are.

I. Words

1. Ereyesterday*
root: ซืน *zɯɯn.A
Thai: -ซืน, วันซืน, วานซืน (common)
Lao: -ซืน, มื้อซืน
Tai Lue: -ซืน, วันซืน
Shan: -ซือ, มื้อซือ

2. Yesterday
root: วาน *waan.A
Thai: -วาน, เมื่อวาน, วันวาน
Lao: -วาน, มื้อวาน
Tai Lue: -วา, วันวา
Shan: -วา, มื้อวา

3. Today
word formation: "day + demonstrative; literally: this day"
Thai: วันนี้
Lao: มื้อนี้
Tai Lue: วันนิ
Shan: มื้อไน้

4. Tomorrow
root: พรูก, *bruuk.D
Thai: -พรูก, วันพรุ่ง, พรุ่งนี้, วันพรูก (rare)
Lao: -พูก, มื้ออื่น (most common), พูกนี้ (rare, ร in พร is dropped in modern Lao)
Tai Lue: -ภูก, - วันภูก (ภ is derived from พร)
Shan: -ภูก, มื้อภูก (ภ is derived from พร)

5. Overmorrow*
root: รือ, *rɯɯ.A
Thai: -รืน, มะรืน (from เมื่อรืน, probably from เมื่อรือ),
Lao: -รือ, มื้อรือ **
Tai Lue: -รือ, วันรือ **
Shan: -รือ, มื้อรือ **

6. Three days after today (over-overmorrow?)
root: All these Tai languages do not seem to have a common root
Thai: -เรื่อง, มะเรื่อง (from เมื่อเรื่อง)
Lao: -ตื่ง, มื้อตื่ง
Tai Lue: -แร, วันแร (read วันแฮ)
Shan: ??? (if you know a Shan word for this, please let me know)

* rare English terms. Ereyesterday is an old term for the day before yesterday, and overmarrow is an old term for the day after tomorrow. Another term for ereyesterday, albeit also rare, is nudiustertian. Let's start using these terms in speech though!

** In non-Thai languages, ร is pronounced as ฮ.

II. Pronunciation (for learners of these languages)
1. Ereyesterday*
Thai: wan.sɯɯn
Lao: mɯ̂ɯ.sɯ́ɯn
Tai Lue: wân.sɯ̂ɯn
Shan: mɯ̂ɯ.sɯ́ɯn

2. Yesterday
Thai: mɯ̂a.waan
Lao: mɯ̂ɯ.wáan
Tai Lue: wân.wâa
Shan: mɯ̂ɯ.wáa

3. Today
Thai: wan.níi
Lao: mɯ̂ɯ.nîi
Tai Lue: wân.nìʔ
Shan: mɯ̂ɯ.nâi

4. Tomorrow
Thai: pʰrûŋ.níi
Lao: mɯ̂ɯ.ʔɯɯn, mɯ̂ɯ.pʰûuk (rare)
Tai Lue: wan.pʰǔuk
Shan: mɯ̂ɯ.pʰûuk

5. Overmorrow
Thai: ma.rɯɯn
Lao: mɯ̂ɯ.hɯ́ɯ
Tai Lue: wân.hɯ̂ɯ
Shan: mɯ̂ɯ.hɯ́ɯ

6. Three days after today
Thai: ma.rɯ̂aŋ
Lao: ma.tɯɯŋ
Tai Lue: wân.hɛ̂ɛ
Shan: ???

III. Why are words for "three days after today" unrelated?
While it is quite transparent that the words from 1-5 in Thai, Lao, Tai Lue, and Shan are related, the words in 6, i.e. "three days after today", however do not seem to be so. In particular, the words for 6 do not seem to share a common root.

In order to explain for why words in 6 have different origins, I argue that the term for "three days after today" in each language was developed independently. In particular, I argue that the terms in 6 were created after a single Tai language had split into different Tai languages, whereas the terms from 1-5 were created before the split.

The question for whence these words come still remains.

IV. How did พรูกนี้ in Thai become พรุ่งนี้?
An explanation for this is nasal assimilation. The nasality of the succeeding sound may have caused the preceding stop to become nasalized. Thus, the nasality of น may have nasalized the ก (velar stop), which thence became a ง --a velar nasal sound.

V. How did มะรือ in Thai become มะรืน?
Two possible explanations. First, it could be that the final -น in -วาน and -ซืน may have caused the speakers to over-generalize all words related to days to end in a -น. Thus, รือ may have become รืน due to the influence of the - น in วาน and ซืน. Second, alternatively it could be that the speakers may have incorrectly parsed the -น in -นี้ as in มะรือนี้ as two -น's. Thence, the first น became a final consonant for รือ.

VI. How did วาน in Tai Lue and Shan become วา, and how did ซืน in Shan become ซือ?
Explanation for this is the opposite of the explanation for how มะรือ in Thai became มะรืน. In particular, it could be that the speakers may have over-generalized all words related to days, except for "today", to not end in -น. Thus, the fact that รือ in Tai Lue and Shan does not end in -น may have influenced the speakers to drop the -น in วาน and ซืน (Shan only).

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hypercorrection in Thai: /k(h)w/ and /f/ sounds

Me standing in front of some cute water buffaloes which are locally known as "faai"
This entry is a part of my 2013 Thailand and Laos summer trip. 

The distinction and the merge
It has been observed that in the most colloquial form of Thai (Siamese, the Tai variety that is spoken natively in Bangkok and surrounding provinces), khw and kw sounds are pronounced as f. (Brown 1965) In other words, the distinction among khw, kw, and f sounds has been lost. For instance, ขวา (khwaa) "right" and ฝา (faa) "lid" would both be pronounced as faa, and กวาง (kwaang) "deer" and ฟาง (faang) "straw" would both be pronounced as faang. The distinction is maintained in Standard Thai.

Based on my observations, the merge is more prevalent among people in my parents' generation (ages 40-50) and older. Due to our better access to education, people in my generation regularly maintain the distinction. The only time people my age (and perhaps in my circle) merge these seconds is when we do it jokingly. (I suppose this is analogous to how young New Yorkers may say "thirty-third" as toity-toid to mock the speech of older generations, or how young Americans may jokingly say "what, which, whip, where, why" with the /ʍ/ sound, the voiceless labiovelar fricative (for non-linguists, it sounds like there is an emphasis on the h in wh: hhw).)

How did k(h)w become f? (Linguistic explanations)
De-velarization and spirantization of stops may have motivated the merge.
(hypothesis 1)
To account for how khw and kw became f, one may propose that khw and k simply underwent the processes of de-velarization and spirantization. In particular, khw and kw lost its velar-ity whereby both became pv which thereafter became fv due to the process of spirantization, and finally fv became f due to the fact that Thai disallows v sound.
(hypothesis 2)
An alternative explanation might be that khw and kw first both merged into khw. The khw sound, being a sound which often gets pronounced as xw (it is a known fact that kh and x are pronounced interchangeably in Thai), thence underwent the process of de-velarization-- fv --which thereafter became f since Thai disallows v sound.

Why did k(h)w become f?
As with any diachronic alternation in sounds in languages around the world, one explanation might be that people in one generation did not correctly perceive the sounds produced by an older generation. Perhaps at one point Siamese speakers failed to hear the velar-ity of the khw and the kw, and all they perceived was the labial-ity (from w) and the supposed frication, thus leading them to hear khw and kw as f, and thereafter they commenced to produce khw, kw, and f in an identical way.

When I was visiting Thailand this summer (2013), I came across a person in Chonburi province who was apparently unaware that she had hypercorrected her speech. Although I indeed heard many people there merging khw, khw, and f sounds, I also heard an elderly woman utter ฝาก (faak) as ขวาก (khwaak). I was utterly surprised by this because I had never heard anyone do this.

Why did she over-correct herself?
One reason might be that perhaps she in fact does not hypercorrect at all; it is simply the way her ancestors spoke. The "merge" had been passed down to her.
Another reason might be that she did not go to school or only finished 4th grade (as it was common then) and therefore did not learn of the distinction which exists in Standard Thai.
Another reason might be that she in fact went to school but is too old to remember the distinction that she had learned in school.

Corresponding sounds in other Tai languages
The distinction seems to be maintained in other Tai languages including Northern Thai, Shan, and Lao. Interestingly, in Lao the khw and kw seem to induce vowel shortening. For example, khwaa "right" and kwaang "deer" are pronounced as khua and kuang respectively.

Traveling to Chiang Mai and Observation on the Usage of Northern Thai Language

Here I'm indulging an authentic "khao soy" (noodle curry)-- a dish originating from Northern Thailand. 

This entry is a part of my Thailand and Laos summer trip in 2013.

Transportation thither

Chiangmai, Northern Thailand was astounding. It took me about 12 hours to ride a first-class bus from Chonburi province (not too far from Bangkok) to the northern province. The ride costed me about ฿700 (about $22).

The bus made me feel as if I was on an airplane. There was a bus stewardess who was beautifully dressed up like a flight attendant. The seats remarkably resembled those from an airplane. Meals were provided.

Transportation within Chiangmai
Public transportation in Chiangmai was distinctive from that of Bangkok. While there were tuk tuk and songtaew, there were no "motorcycle taxis" nor buses.

Their songtaews, red in color, function differently from those from Bangkok and nearby provinces. In Bangkok, songtaews run on their designated streets--they function like buses wherein one must know which line to take in order to go wherever he/she wishes. In Chiangmai, however, songtaews are practically similar to taxis. In particular, passengers must inform the drivers of their destinations. Their songtaews can be ridden in two ways: sharing the service with other passengers or have the whole songtaew all by yourself. The latter choice is more expensive than the former.

Speaking Northern Thai is extremely useful. The first and the most important thing which I learned from riding my first Northern Thai songtaew was that if one does not speak the local language, he/she will likely be charged with a non-local price. My first ride costed me ฿40 (about $1.25), which I was informed thereafter that I had been severely ripped off. Before riding a songtaew for the second time, I made sure that I would be charged with the local price--฿20 (about $0.62). (Bear in mind that price varies according to the distance as well) Yes, I am quite aware that I presently appear very cheap, but it always comforts me more to not being ripped off than paying for a price that is already cheap ($1.25 is cheap for Americans; it costs $1.50 in Los Angeles to ride buses).

There are at least two ways wherein one can receive the local price: speak Northern Thai with no foreign accent (not even a Standard Thai accent), or frankly request for a local price. Alas the former is not an easy option; thus, I suggest the latter. I personally would always choose the latter, lest they detect my non-native-like Northern Thai pronunciation. Here is how my mother would do it: she would do it dramatically (I quite admire her for possessing such an ability):

songtaew: (in Northern Thai) where to ma'am?

my mother: (in Standard Thai) to Night Bazaar, please. How much will that be?

songtaew: (switches to Standard Thai) All right ma'am. That will be ฿40. That alright with you?

my mother: (looks at the driver incredulously and raises her right hand to her forehead abruptly, both eyes widely open as if she has never been this surprised before in her entire life) Huuh..Wh-what?! I thought it was only ฿20! OMG how could this be?! Impossible! (raises the amplitude in her voice a little more) Has the price changed?! This is extremely bizarre!!! All other songtaews I've been on have only charged me ฿20! Does yours come with a special service?! I just---

songtaew: OK ma'am. It's ฿20 for you.

my mother: Oh ok (gets on the songtaew).

If you are not as brave as my mother, I suggest you only inquire this: "excuse me, sir/ma'am, I thought it was only ฿20. Why does yours cost ฿20 more than the others?" And hopefully this will suffice.

Northern Thai language

People here natively speak Northern Thai, or Kam Mueang, which is another Tai language with which hitherto I have been obsessed. Northern Thai is euphonious.Their six tonal system (c.f. five tonal system in Standard Thai) is utterly pleasant to my ears. It was a great opportunity for me to practice my Northern Thai.

Prior to my arrival, I had been informed by many that the Northern Thai language was slowly dying. In particular, many had informed me that it was not being passed onto the younger generations. However, this did not seem to be completely true. Based on my observations, the language indeed is slowly dying, but it is dying very slowly. Young Northerners do seem to use Northern Thai regularly. Although many would speak Standard Thai to non-Northerners, many teenagers seemed to choose to converse in Northern Thai among themselves. In some cases, younger people in convenient stores even code-switched with me in Standard Thai/Northern Thai. Older speakers (from 40 and up) were more conservative. In particular, they were usually the ones that would speak Northern Thai, even to non-Northerners. Outsiders would speak Standard Thai to them, and they would respond in Northern Thai and would use Standard Thai words whenever there was any confusion.

Northern Thai script--Tai Tham script--seemed to be highly revered. Northern Thai writings, along with Standard Thai writings, could be seen on various signs on Temple entrances. A few stores also had beautiful Northern Thai signs.

Books in Northern Thai

Books written in Northern Thai can be purchased at a terrific bookstore called "Suriwong Book Centre". On the second floor of the store, there is a small section wherein there are Northern Thai books--written in Northern Thai script. There are also some books written in Shan and Tai Lue. I utterly love this place! I spent quite a long time in there, happily browsing through the books. I was extremely joyous to have discovered such a place. Consequently, I ended up purchasing nearly 10 books in Northern Thai. Alas, although I had longed to buy all Northern Thai books in the store, I could not buy every book for fearing of running out of money. The next time I return thither, I will certainly purchase more Northern Thai books. I also hope that the next time I return, there will be more Northern Thai books; hopefully the Northern Thai section continues to expand.

Here are some of the purchased books thence:

More pictures:
I had a chance to try Shan khao feun (tho phu) for the first time! Absolutely delicious!

Me at Wat Doi Suthep (Suthep hill temple)

Me clad in a Northern Thai attire (khian hua (turban), suea mueang (shirt), khian ew (waistcloth), and sa-dauw (fisherman pants). 

I had an opportunity to try some exotic beans/nuts. The left ones are good.
Me clad in a Hmong outfit on Doi Pui (Pui Hill), Hmong village.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lao Vocabulary: Names of the Countries in the European Union & Others

Names of the Countries that are in the European Union & Others in Lao
(ชื่อประเทศที่อยู่ในสหภาพยุโรปและอื่นๆ ในภาษาลาว)
(ຊື່ປະເທດທີ່ຢູ່ໃນສະຫະພາບເອີລົບແລະອື່ນໆ ໃນພາສາລາວ)
Flag of EU

Lao learners commit a lot of errors when using European country names in their speech or in text. In particular they tend to think that the names of the European countries in Lao are the same as those in Thai. This is due to the fact that the resources on Lao are limited.

Thai and Lao borrow words from different sources. In general, Thai uses English as a source for the names of these countries, while Lao largely borrows the names from French. For example, the word for Spain in Thai is สเปน ( while it is ແອສະປາຍ (แอสปาย, / in Lao (cf. French. Espagne). Thus, I am creating this post so that Lao learners can use the names correctly. You may use this post as a reference.

ผู้ที่กำลังเรียนภาษาลาวหลายท่านมักใช้คำศัพท์ที่เกี่ยวกับชื่อประเทศยุโรปในภาษาลาวอย่างไม่ถูกต้อง หลายคนคิดว่าชื่อประเทศเหล่านี้นั้น เหมือนภาษาไทย ประเทศส่วนมากมีชื่อที่ไม่เหมือนกันระหว่างสองภาษา เนื่องจากที่ทั้งสองนั้น มีแหล่งที่เอาคำเหล่านี้มาที่ไม่เหมือนกัน ภาษาไทยมักเอาชื่อประเทศพวกนี้มาจากภาษาอังกฤษ ส่วนภาษาลาวมักเอาชื่อประเทศพวกนี้มาจากภาษาฝรั่งเศส อาทิ Spain คือ สเปน ในภาษาไทย แต่ภาษาลาวคือ แอสปาย (จากภาษาฝรั่งเศส Espagne "เอสปาญน์") ดั่งนั้นข้าพเจ้าจึ่งเขียนบทความนี้เพื่อให้พวกท่านได้นำเอาไปใช้เป็นแหล่งข้อมูลและเป็นแหล่งอ้างอิง

ຜູ້ທີ່ພວມຮຽນພາສາລາວຫຼາຍທ່ານມັກໃຊ້ຄຳສັບທີ່ກ່ຽວຂ້ອງກັບຊື່ປະເທດເອີລົບໃນພາສາລາວຢ່າງບໍ່ຖືກຕ້ອງ. ຫຼາຍຄົນຄຶດວ່າຊື່ປະເທດເຫຼົ່ານີ້ ແມ່ນຄືກັນກັບພາສາໄທ. ປະເທດສ່ວນຫຼາຍມີຊື່ບໍ່ຄືກັນລະຫວ່າງສອງພາສາ ເນື່ອງຈາກທີ່ທັງສອງນັ້ນ ແມ່ນມີບ່ອນທີ່ເອົາຄຳເຫຼົ່ານີ້ມາເຊິ່ງບໍ່ຄືກັນ. ພາສາໄທມັກເອົາຊື່ປະເທດພວກນີ້ມາຈາກພາສາອັງກິດ ສ່ວນພາສາລາວມັກເອົາຊື່ປະເທດພວກນີ້ມາຈາກພາສາຝະລັ່ງ ເຊັ່ນ  Spain ແມ່ນ ສະເປນ ໃນພາສາໄທ ແຕ່ໃນພາສາລາວແມ່ນ ແອສະປາຍ (ຈາກພາສາຝະລັ່ງ Espagne "ແອສປາຍນ໌"). ສະນັ້ນ ຜູ້ຂ້າຈຶ່ງຂີດຂຽນບົດຄວາມນີ້ເພື່ອໃຫ້ພວກທ່ານໄດ້ເອົາໄປໃຊ້ເປັນແຫຼ່ງຂໍ້ມູນແລະອ້າງອີງໄດ້.


The order will be English-Thai-Lao-French

Europe - ยุโรป - ເອີລົບ (เออลบ, จาก เออรป) - Europe

Countries in the EU - ประเทศในสหภาพยุโรป - ປະເທດໃນສະຫະພາບເອີລົບ
Austria - ออสเตรีย -  ໂອຕິດ (โอติด, จาก โอตริช) - Autriche
Belgium - เบลเยียม - ແບນຊິກ (แบนซิก, จาก แบลชิก)- Belgique
Bulgaria - บัลแกเรีย - ບູນກາລີ (บูนกาลี, จาก บูลการี) - Bulgarie
Croatia - โครเอเชีย - ໂກອາຊີ (โกอาซี, จาก โกรอาชี) - Croatie
Cyprus -ไซปรัส-ຊີບ (ซีบ, จาก ชรีป) - Chypre
Czech (Republic) - เช็ก- ແຊັກ (แซ็ก, จาก แช็ก) - Tchèque
Denmark - เดนมาร์ก - ດານມາກ (ดานมาก, จาก ดานมากก์) - Danemark
Estonia - เอสโตเนีย - ແອສະໂຕນີ (แอสะโตนี, จาก แอสโตนี) - Estonie
Finland - ฟินแลนด์ - ແຟງລັງ (แฟงลัง, จาก แฟงลังด์) - Finlande
France - ฝรั่งเศส - ຝະລັ່ງ (ฝะลั่ง, จาก ฝรั่งส์) - France
Germany - เยอรมนี- ເຢຍລະມັນ (เยียละมัน, จาก เยียรมัน) - Allemagne
Greece - กรีซ - ກະແລັດ (กะแล็ด, จาก แกร็ส) - Grèce
Hungary - ฮังการี - ຮົງກະລີ (ฮงกะลี, จาก ฮงกรี) - Hongrie
Ireland -ไอร์แลนด์ - ອຽກລັງ (เอียกลัง, จาก เอียกลังด์) - Irlande
Italy -อิตาลี - ອິຕາລີ (อิตาลี) - Italie
Latvia-ลัตเวีย - ແລດໂຕນີ (แลดโตนี, จาก แลตโตนี) - Lettonie
Lithuania - ลิตทัวเนีย - ລີຕົວນີ (ลีตัวนี, จาก ลีตัวนี) - Lituanie
Luxembourg - ลักเซมเบิร์ก - ລູກຊຳບວກ (ลูกซำบวก, จาก ลูกซัมบวกก์) - Luxembourg
Malta -มอลตา - ມັນ (มัน, จาก มัลต์) - Malte
Netherlands, Holland - เนธอร์แลนด์, ฮอล์แลนด์ - ໂຮນລັງ (โฮนลัง, จาก โฮลลังด์) - Pays-Bas, Hollande
Poland -โปแลนด์ - ໂປໂລຍ (โปโลย, จาก โปโลย/โปโลญ) - Pologne
Portugal -โปรตุเกส - ປອກຕຸຍການ (ปอกตุยกาน, จาก ปอกตุยกาล) - Portugal
Romania -โรเมเนีย - ລູມານີ (ลูมานี, จาก รูมานี) - Roumanie
Slovakia -สโลวาเกีย - ສະໂລວາກີ (สะโลวากี, จาก สโลวากี) - Slovaquie
Slovenia -สโลเวเนีย - ສະໂລເວນີ (สะโลเวนี, จาก สโสเวนี) - Slovénie
Spain -สเปน - ແອສະປາຍ (แอสะปาย, จาก แอสปาย/แอสปาญ) - Espagne
Sweden - สวีเดน - ຊູແອດ (ซูแอด) - Suède
United Kingdom  - สหราชอาณาจักร - ສະຫະລາຊະອານາຈັກ  (สะหะลาซะอานาจัก, จาก สหราชอาณาจักร) - Royaume-Uni

Other countries, cities, languages inside/outside Europe

Scotland - สกอตแลนด์ - ເອກົດ (เอกด, จาก เอกสส์) - Écosse
Edinburgh - เอดินบะระ - ເອແດມບວກ  (เอแดมบวก, จาก เอแดมบวกก์) - Édimbourg
Wales - เวลส์ - ການ  (กาน, จาก กาลส์) - Galles
English/England - อังกฤษ - ອັງກິດ  (อังกฤษ, จาก อังกริส) - Anglais/Angleterre
Cornwall/Cornish - คอร์นวอลล์-ກອກນູອາຍ  (กอกนูอาย, จาก กอกนูอายล์ส) - Cornouailles
Catalonia - คาตาโลเนีย - ກາຕາໂລຍ  (กาตาโลย, จาก กาตาโลย/กาตาโลญ) - Catalogne
Catalan - คาตาลัน - ກາຕາລັງ  (กาตาลัง) - Catalan
Montreal - มอนทรีอาล - ມົງເລອານ  (มงเลอาน, จาก มงเรอาล) - Montréal
Pacific (ocean) - แปซิฟิก - ປາຊິຟິກ  (ปาซิฟิก) - Pacifique
Atlantic (ocean) - แอตแลนติก - ອັດລັງຕິກ  (อัดลังติก, จาก อัตลังติก) - Atlantique
Great Britain - บริเตนใหญ่ - ເບຕາຍໃຫຍ່  (เบตายใหย่, จาก เบรตายใหย่) - Grande-Bretagne
Turkey - ตุรกี - ຕວກກີ  (ตวกกี) - Turquie
Norway - นอร์เวย์ - ນອກແວດ  (นอกแวด, จาก นอกแวช) - Norvège
Scandinavia -สแกนดีเนเวีย-ສະການດີນາວີ   (สะกานดีนาวี, จาก สกานดีนาวี) - Scandinavie
Paris - ปารีส - ປາລີ  (ปาลี, จาก ปารีส์) - Paris
Australia - ออสเตรเลีย-ອົດສະຕາລີ  (อดสะตาลี, จาก อสตราลี) - Australie
New Zealand - นิวซีแลนด์ - ນູແວນເຊລັງ  (นูแวนเซลัง, จาก นูแวลล์เซลังด์) - Nouvelle-Zélande
Greek - กรีก - ກະເລັກ  (กะเล็ก, จาก เกร็ก) - Grec
Latin - ละติน - ລາແຕງ  (ลาแตง) - Latin
Switzerland - สวิสเซอร์แลนด์ - ສະວິດ  (สะวิด, จาก สวิสส์) - Suisse
Iceland -ไอซ์แลนด์ - ອີສະລັງ  (อิสะลัง, จาก อิสลังด์) - Icelande
Armenia - อาร์เมเนีย - ອາກເມນີ  (อากเมนี) - Arménie
Argentina - อาร์เจนตินา - ອາກຊັງຕີນ  (อากซังตีน) - Argentine
Egypt - อียิปต์ - ເອຢິບ   (เอยิบ, จาก เอยิปต์) - Égypte
Russia - รัสเซีย - ລັດເຊຍ  (ลัดเซีย, จาก รัสเซีย) - Russie
Canada - แคนาดา - ການາດາ (กานาดา) -  Canada
USA ("America") - อเมริกา - ອາເມລິກາ  (อาเมลิกา, จาก อาเมริกา) - Amérique


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Shopping in Laos: Quick Note on How People Say "Ten Thousand" and Higher

This entry is a part of my Thailand and Laos summer trip in 2013.

It took me about 10 hours to ride a tour bus from Chonburi province, Thailand to Nongkhai province, Northeastern Thailand. Nongkhai was where I crossed the Mekong river to Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. The trip costed me about $25. I left Chonburi around 8pm and got to Nongkhai in the morning.

"Why did you travel at night? It's dangerous, you know?" A friend asked, "People are sleepy. Your driver could have been sleepy. Accidents happen when people are sleepy."

"I wanted to get to Vientiane in the morning, not at night," I said, "Getting around a foreign place at night is also dangerous, you know."

Once I crossed the border, I stayed at a small hotel near the morning market (Talat Sao)--a popular shopping place in Vientiane. This was the place which everyone visiting Vientiane goes to.

The hotel was in a good location, and the price was reasonable for the location. Not only could I walk to the morning market, but I could also walk to Patuxay, aka the Victory Monument, a gate dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France. It costed me about $25 pay night at the hotel.

Shopping at the morning market was exciting. People visiting Laos typically buy textiles. I bought a pha biang, aka sabai, for myself, and a bunch of sinhs for other people. For those who don't know what they are: pha biang is a part of the traditional Lao outfit called "xout lao", (cf. traditional Thai outfit, "chut thai"). It's a sash-like cloth typically worn on the left shoulder. It can be worn by both men and women in ceremonial events. Sinh is a type of traditional skirt worn exclusively by women. In Laos, a lot of women wear sinhs walking on the streets.

When I was done with the textiles, I went straight to a bunch of bookstores and bought about 40 books.

"Alif, you're crazy! Why did you buy so many freaking books?" A friend asked.

"First of all, I love books, and I love the Lao language," I replied, "And second of all, books written in Lao are extremely hard to find outside of Laos. And don't even think of buying them via the internet because there are none due to many reasons such as the postal services in Laos etc."

"Sabaidee," the owner of a bookstore greeted me.
"Sabaidee," I replied, "An nii thaw dai?" I asked him how much a book I was holding costed.
"Sip haa phan kip," he said fifteen thousand kips.
Sip haa phan? (สิบห้าพัน) I thought. Oh he meant nueng muen haa phan (หนึ่งหมื่นห้าพัน), as that is how you'd say fifteen thousand in Thai.

"Chaw (เจ้า)," I replied, then I asked him how much it was in bahts, knowing that they accepted Thai money too.
"Hok sip baht," he said sixty bahts.

Then I went on buying a bunch more from this store and also from other stores.

Lesson to be learned
If you're not familiar with the numbering system in Thai and Lao, I'm afraid you won't understand this part. In both Thai and Lao, muen means ten thousand, but at least in Vientiane, it is uncommon for people use muen. So, instead of saying neung muen haa phan, one says "sip haa phan".

Another note for Thai and Lao beginners: there are A LOT of Thai books in the bookstores in Laos. So, for those who want to buy Lao books but can't tell Thai and Lao scripts apart, do ask them.


Me standing in front of Patuxay, Vientiane, Laos.

Some of the Lao books I bought.