Friday, January 25, 2013

Eating Water

Image via WRD

Many Southwestern Tai languages have a word for "to eat" and one for "to drink". "To eat" is kin (กิน) in Thai, kìn (ກິນ) in Lao, kǐn in Northern Thai, kín in Tai Lue, and kǐn (ၵိၼ်) in Shan, whereas "to drink" is dɯ̀m (ดื่ม) or sót (ซด) in Thai, dɯɯm (ດື່ມ) and sot (ຊົດ) in Lao, dɯ̀m in Northern Thai, dɯ᷄m and hìip in Tai Lue, and sôt (သူတ်ႉ) in Shan.

However, in colloquial speech, speakers often do not make a distinction between "to eat" and "to drink". In particular, they use "to eat" to say "to drink". In other words, "to eat" can both mean "to eat" and "to drink." Thus, colloquially "to eat" and "to drink" is kin (กิน) in Thai, kìn (ກິນ) in Lao, kǐn in Northern Thai, kín in Tai Lue, and kǐn (ၵိၼ်) in Shan.

Learners of a Tai language, whose native tongue makes a distinction between "to eat" and "to drink," may find this information useful when speaking with a native speaker of a Tai language. Specifically, this information may benefit the learners in at least two areas. First, they will comprehend better when a native speaker chooses to converse in the colloquial speech. In addition, since there are times when it is more "proper" to use colloquial speech, the learners will be able to use the colloquial way of "to drink" correctly without sounding awkwardly too formal. 


Anonymous said...

Hi Alif,

That's also the rule for Tai Don (White Tai in VN and China).
"To drink" would be "kin nam" if you drink water, or "kin lao" if you drink alcohol.
Also, Tai Don use "kin" to say "To smoke": "kin k'on"

Nice job on this blog!

Alif Silpachai said...

Very interesting! Thank you for your input.