Friday, August 08, 2008


Thai uses so-called linguistic particles to communicate secondary meanings in sentences. One such particle is klap. (The word is spelled ครับ -my transliteration is an approximation.) The particle klap is used at the end of sentences by men to convey politeness.

Recently, I've caught myself forgetting to use klap in some situations when it is called for. As a foreigner and visitor, I try to be polite -when I was here two years ago, a few people commented to my wife on how polite I was. I'd like to take this as a compliment on my behavior in general, but I think it was mainly a commentary on how often I would use the particle klap, which was basically after every sentence. My wife recently told me that I don't have to use it so often -it's not necessary to be extremely polite.

Unfortunately, I think I've now gone too far the other way. There have been several recent occasions where I was speaking with someone I didn't know well, and they were using politeness particles with me. Being more interested in the content of the conversation, I forgot to use them in return.

I suppose all this will sort itself out by being aware of it. On one hand, it's embarrassing to forget my manners on several occasions. On the other hand, I think it's a symptom of greater comfort and comprehension in Thai.

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Rikker said...

Scott, glad to see you blogging again.

The ALG method sounds interesting. They have a video on YouTube of a level 1 ALG Thai class. I wish they had samples of higher levels.

What's the classroom atmosphere and interaction like in the classes you've taken/are about to take?

Scott Imig said...

Hi, Rikker,

Thanks for the comment. That's interesting -I'll check out the YouTube video.

> What's the classroom atmosphere and interaction like...?

It depends somewhat on the subject and instructor. Every weekday, the hourly schedule is the same, and there are (currently) courses on Sukhothai, Technology, News, Discussion, etc.

I've been seeking out subjects at the intermediate end (AT 5) of the intermediate/advanced spectrum (AT 5-10). They seem like the most appropriate level for me. Those classes are fun -the instructors joke and kid. They pay close attention to how much the students understand and adjust their presentation accordingly.

The classes on Sukhothai and News seem to me like the most advanced, and they are a little beyond my level. The times I've attended those classes, the instructor mostly talked, the students mostly listened, and the content was fairly conceptual. I see lot of expatriates with strong language skills attending the Daily News class at noon.

By the way, your post on machine translation was great. :)