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EricTh

Thai language is a mixture of Sanskrit and Tai

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EricTh    82
Posted (edited)

I have been learning Thai and this is what I found.

 

Almost every meaning has two words ie. one is formal and one informal.

 

It seems that the formal words are actually Sanskrit words. The informal words are original Tai words.

 

This makes it hard to learn Thai language because we are actually learning two sets of words one from each language.

 

Eg. When I go to KFC or fast food restaurants, they would use 'Taan' (Sanskrit) instead of 'Gin' (Tai) for eating.

 

A lot of these long formal words like 'Garuna'  are actually Sanskrit words. I think a lot of average Thai don't even know this.

 

Edited by EricTh

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DavidHouston    131

Eric, isn't English similarly at heart a dual-sourced language? Many words are Germanic, while Latin-origin words came with the Normans in 1066 and afterwards. For example, Germanic/Latinate:

ache/pain

anger/rage

answer/response

eat/consume

before/prior

 

and, many, many more.

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Oxx    1,214

In English there are similarly clear register differences, for example, the names of meats are from Norman French, whilst the names of the animals are English:

 

venison/deer

beef/cow

pork/pig

mutton/sheep

&c.

 

Incidentally, what you are describing as "Sanskrit" words are more often Pali, Pali being the Buddhist liturgical language here, so having been well understood by the elite.  In that vein, กรุณา is actually from Pali, not Sanskrit.  The etymology of รับประทาน is unknown, but there's nothing in the spelling to make me think it's anything other than a native Thai word.

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honu    83

I thought Thai was based on Pali, a Sanskrit derivative, an older form of Chinese language (the Tai part), and also on an earlier Khmer language.  I'm not sure the extent of any of those as inputs, or what parts of the language were from original, local sources (some word use must be).  Per my understanding (not worth all that much) the versions of the language reserved for royal references are based more on Khmer, another higher level of formality, so they wouldn't come up so much in ordinary use.

 

That first part about Pali could be completely wrong, and in a sense it doesn't matter, since Sanskrit and Pali are closely related anyway.  I studied Sanskrit for four semester in grad school so I can pass on a little about it.  In a lot of ways it's the exact opposite of Thai language, related to structure and how it is used, but of course that has nothing to do with whether word roots are taken from it or not.

 

Sanskrit is not a tonal language (so Pali wouldn't be either, or Hindi, the modern, later derivative of that language); that part must come from the Chinese language roots.  In Sanskrit nouns being used in different grammatical roles are modified to change forms, as verbs are conjugated in many languages.  Of course in Thai no words are adjusted in form related to different uses, not nouns or verbs.  It makes Sanskrit nearly impossible to learn in a complete form and to use properly for speaking, since as with memorizing multiple forms of verbs in other languages one has to memorize lots of forms of every noun too, all the words used for objects.  There would be patterns to that, forms that would repeat, but it's still an enormous task.  It makes it a very precise language since those forms aren't just indicating if a noun is functioning as a subject or object, they also contain information about how they are being used.

 

All of that becomes very difficult to track related to conventions for use.  With multiple forms of words serving the same role word order does in English and Thai in a sense it wouldn't matter what order you would arrange Sanskrit in, although conventions would still apply to that.  I wondered if the language hadn't evolved to a form that wasn't really so functional later in use, as only an academic language, as Latin might have hundreds of years after people stopped speaking it.  Or maybe Latin was being studied in the same form it had been spoken in long before; I wouldn't know.

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EricTh    82
Posted (edited)
Just now, DavidHouston said:

Eric, isn't English similarly at heart a dual-sourced language? Many words are Germanic, while Latin-origin words came with the Normans in 1066 and afterwards. For example, Germanic/Latinate:

 

You're right, you're absolutely correct.

 

It takes twice the amount of effort to master the Thai language because we have to learn the Sanskrit/Pali words too.

 

I thought Thai used formal words only in writing/official announcements but it seems that KFC and normal restaurant staff used those formal words too.


 

 

Edited by EricTh

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EricTh    82
Posted (edited)
Just now, Oxx said:

 

Incidentally, what you are describing as "Sanskrit" words are more often Pali, Pali being the Buddhist liturgical language here, so having been well understood by the elite.  In that vein, กรุณา is actually from Pali, not Sanskrit.  The etymology of รับประทาน is unknown, but there's nothing in the spelling to make me think it's anything other than a native Thai word.

 

To me, Pali and Sanskrit are both Indic languages so I am not bothered whether it is either Sanskrit or Pali word.

 

'Taan' is a shortened Sanskrit/Pali word, they just shortened to one syllable from the original polysyllabic word ประทาน 'Pra Taan'. You can ask those people who are well versed in Sanskrit/Pali.

 

Long polysyllabic words (more than two) are always Sanskrit/Pali words while one syllable word (eg. Taan) might not be Thai word because they were shortened.

 

Thai is a monosyllabic and tonal language whereas Sanskrit is a polysyllabic and non-tonal language.

Edited by EricTh

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Oxx    1,214
5 minutes ago, EricTh said:

Long polysyllabic words (more than two) are always Sanskrit/Pali words while one syllable word (eg. Taan) might not be Thai word because they were shortened.

 

You're spouting nonsense.  Words such as ไวโอลิน, คอมพิวเตอร์, มัสยิด are most definitely not from Sanskrit or Pali.

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EricTh    82
Just now, honu said:

 

Sanskrit is not a tonal language (so Pali wouldn't be either, or Hindi, the modern, later derivative of that language); that part must come from the Chinese language roots.

 

This is not an exact one to one borrowing.

 

1. Some Sanskrit/Pali words are shortened (taking only one syllable)

 

2.The simple form of Sanskrit verb is taken rather than all the verb conjugation forms. 

Eg. Thai says 'I go there yesterday' and not 'I went there yesterday'. So 'go' is the borrowed word and not 'went'.

 

3. Some Sanskrit/Pali pronunciation are changed because Thai can't pronounce those sounds.

Eg. English 'ball' is pronounced as 'Born' in Thai.

 

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EricTh    82
Posted (edited)
Just now, Oxx said:

 

You're spouting nonsense.  Words such as ไวโอลิน, คอมพิวเตอร์, มัสยิด are most definitely not from Sanskrit or Pali.

 

I didn't say those words are Sanskrit, did I? Those are actually English words, one is Arabic word.

These don't have any equivalent Thai informal word.

 

 

 

Edited by EricTh

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Oxx    1,214
29 minutes ago, EricTh said:

 

I didn't say those words are Sanskrit, did I? Those are actually English words, one is Arabic word.

These don't have any equivalent Thai informal word.

 

No, you didn't.  However you said "Long polysyllabic words (more than two) are always Sanskrit/Pali words".  I just gave a few examples that demonstrate that you're cluelessly wrong.

 

Note the use of "always" in what you wrote.  Had you said "often" I wouldn't cavil.  As it stands, your lack of intellectual rigour irks me.

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EricTh    82
Posted (edited)
Just now, Oxx said:

 

No, you didn't.  However you said "Long polysyllabic words (more than two) are always Sanskrit/Pali words".  I just gave a few examples that demonstrate that you're cluelessly wrong.

 

Note the use of "always" in what you wrote.  Had you said "often" I wouldn't cavil.  As it stands, your lack of intellectual rigour irks me.

 

If you had bothered to understand the first post, quote

 

"Almost every meaning has two words ie. one is formal and one informal"

 

I am referring to those polysyllabic words with both a formal and informal form.

 

I am well aware that there are English words such as 'computer' or 'ball' and it is obvious to some others but not to you that I didn't refer to these words.

 

After all, I am writing to an English audience who would know which words are English words and not Sanskrit words.

 

Is there any  informal native Thai word for 'computer' in Thai?

 

So please don't insult my intelligence.

Edited by EricTh

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KhunBENQ    6,448

Please keep the discussion civilized.

It's quite unusual that discussion in the Thai language forum go personal.

Exchange your arguments without slur.

 

Further such stuff will lead to closing of the thread.

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Aforek    379

I think that KFC staff uses "รับประทาน " just to be polite with their customers , it's a formal word but I hear it sometimes by people who just want to be polite , nothing special here 

 

EricTh said : 

3. Some Sanskrit/Pali pronunciation are changed because Thai can't pronounce those sounds.

Eg. English 'ball' is pronounced as 'Born' in Thai.

 

They can't pronounce it because they are not used to it, if they want they can do it , after some training 

it's a rule, consonnants ending with " L " at the end are pronounced with " N " , English word or not 

 

above, I agree with Oxx

 

 

 

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Richard W    377
11 hours ago, honu said:

Sanskrit is not a tonal language (so Pali wouldn't be either, or Hindi, the modern, later derivative of that language); that part must come from the Chinese language roots.  In Sanskrit nouns being used in different grammatical roles are modified to change forms, as verbs are conjugated in many languages.  Of course in Thai no words are adjusted in form related to different uses, not nouns or verbs.

Actually, there are some Indic languages that are now tonal, such as Punjabi.  In Thai, the syllables of Sanskrit and Pali words may have a 2-way contrast in tone, corresponding to the class of the initial consonant.

 

It seems that the tonal system of Chinese is only about two thousand years old.  Current thinking is that the system of  3-tone contrasts (as seen in Thai writing) arose in parallel in Chinese, Tai, Hmong-Mien and Vietnamese, though it was probably spread by Chinese influence.

 

There are a few words that are different as initial elements and free-standing words - ไม้ and น้ำ are the most obvious.  Many words of Sanskrit origin have different forms depending on whether they are the last element in a compound word.  One could jocularly claim that Thai has both a construct case and a genitive case!

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CaptHaddock    1,742

Almost every meaning has two words ie. one is formal and one informal.

It seems that the formal words are actually Sanskrit words. The informal words are original Tai words.

This makes it hard to learn Thai language because we are actually learning two sets of words one from each language.

 

It's true that Thai uses Sanskrit and Pali words for upper-class, abstract, refined connotations in contrast to Thai words.  This relationship recalls the relationship mentioned above between English words of Anglo-Saxon origin and the French/Latinate versions.  However, both English and Thai have many more than two levels of formality/abstraction such as formal, informal, slang, rude, poetic, literatry, semiformal and various professional jargons.  As learners of Thai, we have to learn all of these in order to become fully competent in the language.  Unfortunately, the Thai-English dictionaries available mainly do no include this information.  There is no OED or Petit Robert for Thai.

 

In my experience, Thais are much more sensitive to the appropriate level of formality in speech than Americans.  They seem more inclined to correct me for errors of level of formality than, say, grammar.  But that figures because Thais are acutely sensitive to the never-ending negotiation of relative status carried out mainly through language.  One of my teachers related to me how a rupture in a friendship became permanent when his companion used a slightly more formal pronoun referring to himself than formerly.

 

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