Thursday, 9 December 2010

Close but no cigar

Korp kun ka?

Nope, that's not the right inflection, is it?

I'm really trying to learn a few words of Thai. I want to be the courteous traveller, who makes an effort, rather than the type who expects everyone they encounter to speak English.

The first syllable is spoken in low tone, so I'm going to do my Boris Karloff impression at the start of this: Kuuurp kun ka.

I know the woman I'm trying to thank will understand what “thank you” means. She meets tourists every day, so it's only my own desperation to seem culturally sensitive that is putting us both through this embarrassment. My pronunciation is pitiable. She probably thinks I'm an idiot.

Kun is mid-tone so I should be able to manage that. Ka at the end is the falling tone. Here we go: Kuuurp kun kaaaaaa.

I sound like a mechanical man that's just run out of power half way though the sentence.

“You're welcome,” she says in English. And she smiles at me, like I'm a dim child proud of having used a potty.

Yep, I'm an idiot abroad.

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