Say what?

We passed this sign today:

Surprised by all the different accents they use, and wanting to know what they mean, I looked up ‘Thai Script’ at Wikipedia:

Let me put it this way – I could just make as much sense of this page, as I could of the Dutch page describing how to calculate the different tides. Maths is not my forte.

Two passages especially caught my eye, and made me laugh – and grasp how incredibly not-learnable this language is if you have less than a lifetime to spare to master it:

“For most consonant sounds, there are two different letters that both represent the same sound, but which cause the associated tone mark to be interpreted differently. The result, approximately, is that there are twice as many letters as expected, but only half as many tone marks.”


“Thai vowel sounds and diphthongs are written using a mixture of vowel symbols on a consonant base. Each vowel is shown in its correct position relative to a base consonant and sometimes a final consonant as well. Note that vowels can go above, below, left of or right of the consonant, or combinations of these places. If a vowel has parts before and after the initial consonant, and the syllable starts with a consonant cluster, the split will go around the whole cluster.”

To put it differently: in this respect I am very happy to enter another country the day after tomorrow – a country where I can even order specific food – thanks to Conimex who were so nice never to translate the Indonesian/Malay words for certain herbs, spices and other food into Dutch, but keep the labels on the jars as they should be. Otherwise god knows what Patrick and I would have had to eat in the Borneo-city of Sandakan, if we hadn’t remembered the Conimex recipe for ‘ikan goreng’. It was the best fried fish we had that entire holiday.

Location:Krabi, Thailand

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