I’m sorry so many of you are struggling with winter, snow, cold, ice, arctic air — March came in like a "polar bear" this year! As I understand it Thailand’s coolest season (I dare not call it winter ;-) is from Nov.-Feb; followed by hot season from Mar.-May and monsoon weather (aka rainy season) June-Oct. We’ve been in Bangkok most of Feb. and the day time temps hang in the low 90s (with mild humidity often in the 50% range) and sometimes nighttime temps drop below 80. It still feels good to me although we do use the AC some.
We are learning Thai! That is a statement of faith!! We spent the first three days learning the sounds of Thai transcribed into the English alphabet. Doesn’t sound so hard except that in the English transcription...
c is a “j” sound
p and b are close variations of “b”
th is close to our t sound
t and d are variations of d
kh is our k sound
but k alone is a hard “g” sound
and… ever met the letter shown on the right? It's the “ng” in the word sing. We can all do that — now put it at the beginning of a word! It’s NOT “n-g”…. Fun, eh?
Did I tell you Thai has 5 tones? They are: mid, low, falling, high, rising. A single word may have 5 different meanings differentiated only by the tone. That makes tones pretty important stuff! Making the sounds and tones was a challenge but then we had to take dictation and hear and write the stuff. After 12 hours (3 days) I was beginning to get it.
below is day 1: L->R Alisa, Jasmijn, Irene, Jim, James.
Our first homework assignment: Find a Thai man, and also a woman, and practice these question/answers with them. I can’t tell you what a challenge that was. I don’t know any Thai people yet… But…we took the river taxi to Tesco Lotus (a British “Fred Meyers” in Thailand) to do some shopping. There are clerks on every 3-4 aisles waiting to help customers and boy, did I need help! They usually know a little English, so I asked, “Can you help me?” in English and then dutifully explained in Thai that I was studying the language and asked if he would answer some questions for me. He was happy to oblige and by the time I was done there were 8 clerks standing around me laughing and giggling. I thanked him and turned to the three women in the group and they all quickly demurred and distanced themselves from the group and especially me! I later snagged an unsuspecting woman offering coffee samples to customers. Assignment #1 - done!
ULS, our school, has been teaching Thai for 60+ years. They are one of the best, but not for the faint of heart! I recall speaking to Jonathan his first week of school and he likened his first days as "trying to drink water from a fire hydrant." Of the half dozen alumni I know personally, most admit to tears and bouts of despair, but all vigorously affirm it was worth it. I’m not sure I can do this, but I know I can try. Fortunately I know Someone who is in the business of miracles and the mere fact that we have moved to Thailand gives me confidence that God who has begun a good work in me will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (see Philipians 1:6)