Friday, August 14, 2015

Thai vocabulary: animals from the Lion King

This post assumes that readers already know how to read Thai script.

The Lion King is one of my favorite Disney films. I had never bothered looking up the terms of the animals in Thai until today. Below I present Thai words for the animals that are the main characters in the film.

Many of these animals are not native to Thailand. Although there are Thai people who know what these animals are, do not expect every single Thai person to know what these creatures look like. The animals that many Thais might not know are those whose Thai names are loanwords from English. So, when speaking to a Thai person, I suggest that you explain which animal you are talking about. Or you can talk about the Lion King and go from there. Do not use terms like maen driu แมนดริล (mandrill) and expect every Thai person to know what it is.

1. lion
sing to

2. warthog (Pumba)
mu pa na hut
+mu pa (หมูป่า) means "hog, wild boar"

3. hornbill (Zazu)
nok ngueak

Loanwords from English:

4. meerkat (Timon)
(tua) mia kaet

5. mandrill (Rafiki)
ลิงแมนดริล, (ตัว)แมนดริล
ling maen driu, (tua) maen driu
/līŋ.mɛ̄ːn.drīw/, /(tūa).mɛ̄ːn.drīw/
+ling (ลิง) means "monkey"

6. hyena
hai yee na

*(ตัว) = optional; it is sort of like an indicator for animals; you should use it with a word to cue the listeners that the word is a name for an animal.

Just for fun:
Chinese is one of the languages that do like to borrow foreign words. Chinese instead creates new words by compounding existing words.  If Thai had calqued (word-for-word translation/ loan translation) from Chinese instead of borrowing words from English, what would "meerkat", "mandrill", and "hyena" look like?

1. meerkat
狐獴 lit: "fox mongoose"
(พังพอน = mongoose, (หมา)จิ้งจอก = fox)
phang phon ching chok

2. mandrill
山魈 lit: "mountain elf"
This one is hard to calque because I do not know what 魈 translates to in Thai, and "elves" that we know in the West do not exist in Thai culture (the word for "elf" in Thai is "elf" but said with a Thai accent.) The radical for 魈 is "ghost", and the word for "ghost" in Thai is phi ผี. Thus, the calque or I should say almost-calque would be phi phu khao ผีภูเขา "mountain ghost" which sounds kind of scary to me.
(ผี = ghost, ภูเขา = mountain)
phi phu khao

Since "mountain ghost" sounds frightening, I decided to use the Vietnamese word for mandrill instead. Vietnamese is another language that often creates new words by compounding native words.
The word for mandrill is
khỉ mặt chó lit: "monkey face dog"
So the Thai calque would be
ling na ma

 3. hyena
鬣狗 lit: "mane dog"
(หมา = dog, แผงคอ = mane)
ma phaeng kho

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