From 555 Pride to Being a Baby
The number 5 is pronounced “ha” in Thai, so in texts and e-mails when someone writes 555, it means ‘ha ha ha’. This seems much more clever than the overused lol*.
I was feeling rather smug when I responded to a message from a Thai friend using my newly acquired 555 knowledge in an e-mail. A few minutes later someone asked me a basic question in Thai that I couldn’t answer. My moment of pride was followed by a moment of feeling like, “I can’t understand anything anyone says! Argh!” Thinking back to the e-mail, I was really only responding in English with some basic Thai words in Roman script, and a peppering of kha (the Thai polite particle used by female speakers). I did not really write in Thai at all.
It takes all my brain power to try to speak in Thai, and I still feel like I sound like a toddler. I can only put strings of words together, which aren’t sentences in the slightest. There are 5 different tones in Thai, so sometimes even if I say the right word, I pronounce it incorrectly.
Then I go from feeling like a 2 year old to being a kindergartener when trying to write Thai letters. Thai has 44 consonants and around 30 written and pronounced vowel combinations. Just even learning how to write and remember the Thai alphabet isn’t easy.
Learning a new language and a new culture takes time. I know that and should be a bit kinder with myself. That said, I should be studying more and speaking Thai more than I do. I think it’s time for me to take Thai classes twice a week. My level of frustration is prompting me to make a move. Thai language, ready or not here I come!
*I loathe lol and never use it, but the first few times I saw it I thought it meant lots of love. If it meant lots of love, I’d use it, but it doesn’t. For now I’ll stick with 555.