Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Notes

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Lesson Transcript

Michael: What languages are similar to Thai?
Nantanee: And are they mutually intelligible?
Michael: At ThaiPod101.com, we hear these questions often. In the following situation, Ben Lee accidentally overheard some people speaking. He is confused because what he heard sounds familiar, but he doesn't fully understand it. He asks a friend, Nipaporn Niyom,
"Is this Thai?"
Ben Lee: นี่ใช่ภาษาไทยไหม (nîi châi phaa-săa thai măi)
Dialogue
Ben Lee: นี่ใช่ภาษาไทยไหม (nîi châi phaa-săa thai măi)
Nipaporn Niyom: ไม่ใช่ นี่คือภาษาลาว (mâi châi nîi khuue phaa-săa laao)
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Ben Lee: นี่ใช่ภาษาไทยไหม (nîi châi phaa-săa thai măi)
Michael: "Is this Thai?"
Nipaporn Niyom: ไม่ใช่ นี่คือภาษาลาว (mâi châi nîi khuue phaa-săa laao)
Michael: "No, it's Lao."

Lesson focus

Michael: In this conversation, we hear
Nantanee: เบน ลี (ben lii)
Michael: says
Nantanee: นี่ใช่ภาษาไทยไหม (nîi châi phaa-săa thai măi),
Michael: which means "Is this Thai?" In response,
Nantanee: นิภาพร นิยม (ní-phaa-phaawn ní-yom)
Michael: says
Nantanee: ไม่ใช่ นี่คือภาษาลาว (mâi châi nîi khuue phaa-săa laao),
Michael: which in English is, "No, it's Lao."
Michael: In this lesson, we’ll talk about which languages are most similar to the Thai, or
Nantanee: ภาษาไทย (phaa-săa thai),
Michael: language. To begin with, Thai belongs to the Kra–Dai language family. More specifically, Thai belongs to the Southwestern Tai subset,
Nantanee: ภาษาไทยตะวันตกเฉียงใต้ (phaa-săa thai-dtà-wan-dtòk-chǐiang-dtâi).
Michael: As a result, Thai has many things in common with other languages belonging to the same subset. For example, the Thai and Lao languages are so similar that they are mutually intelligible. This is why, in our dialogue, we hear
Nantanee: เบน ลี (ben lii)
Michael: mistakenly ask,
Nantanee: : นี่ใช่ภาษาไทยไหม (nîi châi phaa-săa thai măi)
Michael: "Is this Thai?" when, in fact, the language being spoken is Lao,
Nantanee: ภาษาลาว (phaa-săa laao).
Michael: For language to be mutually intelligible, it means that the languages’ grammar, vocabulary, and other features both could be understood by a native speaker of either language, even without proper language instruction. In fact, more than half of Thai is similar to Lao in terms of vocabulary, grammar, vowel sounds, and intonation.
Similarly, the Isan language, or
Nantanee: ภาษาอีสาน (phaa-săa-ii-săan),
Michael: which is the common language in the northeastern part of Thailand spoken by approximately 20 million people. The language is also referred to as
Nantanee: ภาษาไทยถิ่นตะวันออกเฉียงเหนือ (phaa-săa-thai thìn-dtà-wan-àawk-chĭiang-nǔuea),
Michael: which means the native northeastern Thai language.
A grouping of Lao dialects spoken in northern and eastern Thailand is also mutually intelligible with the official Thai language.
Michael: In addition, the Thai language is tonal and considered to be an analytical language similar to Chinese
Nantanee: ภาษาจีน (phaa-săa-jiin)
Michael: and Vietnamese
Nantanee: ภาษาเวียดนาม (phaa-săa-wîiat-naam).
Cultural Insight/Expansion
Michael: Although there are slight differences in the use of certain pronouns and question words, most of the words in Thai and Lao are the same. Let’s see some examples of the interchangeable words in Thai and Lao:
Nantanee: ขอบใจ (khàawp-jai),
Michael: which means "Thanks,"
Nantanee: ขอโทษ (khǎaw-thôot),
Michael: which means "I’m sorry,"
Nantanee: โชคดี (chôok-dii),
Michael: which means "Good luck,"
Nantanee: เข้าใจ (khâo-jai),
Michael: which means "Understand,"
Nantanee: ลาก่อน (laa-gàawn),
Michael: which means "Goodbye."
Michael: There are also some words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings. For example, in Laos, they say
Nantanee: สบายดี (sà-baai dii),
Michael: which means "I am fine" in Thai but means "hello" in Laos:
Nantanee: ส้ม (sôm),
Michael: which means "orange" in Thai but means "sour" in Laos.
Nantanee: ตะกี้ (dtà-gíi),
Michael: which means "a moment ago" in Thai but means "long time ago" in Laos;
Nantanee: รองเท้า (raawng-tháo),
Michael: which means "shoe" in Thai but means "socks" in Laos.

Outro

Michael: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Nantanee: แล้วพบกันใหม่เร็วๆนี้ค่ะ (láaeo-phóp-gan-mài reo-reo-níi khà)
Michael: See you soon!

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