Gaw-guy, kaw-ky, kaw-kwud, kaw-kwy, kaw-khoon, kaw-ruh-khun, ngaw-goo, jaw-jun, chaw-ching, chaw-chang, saw-sow, chaw-guh-chuu, yaw-poo-ying, daw-chuh-duh,...
If you were here to listen this is what you would hear me muttering to myself at various odd moments throughout my day. All 44 of them - otherwise known as the Thai alphabet. (I was tempted to complain 'til I was informed that to learn Mandarine Chinese you must memorize some 1000 characters. I decided we don't have it so bad.)
Yes, you guessed right. I am currently a student of the beautiful Thai language.
Although I have lived in Thailand for the most part that I've been over here, I've worked with the Karen people and they're the ones I've been surrounded by and so the Karen language is the only one I've endeavored to learn and put my heart into. Up to this point my complete Thai vocabulary had consisted of about 6 words. I could say hello, thank-you, ask you where you were going, tell you that I didn't want it, say the word rice, and, last but not least, the all important vegetarian. At times when I was away from the border in a larger town where Karen isn't spoken I'd bemoan my linguistically challenged state, but I was never ambitious enough to pursue it. But especially here lately as I've traveled and spent time in hospitals, ect, I've seen the struggle between the languages and it's been more and more on my heart as to how much more useful I could be if I could speak both.
So when I came up here to Chiang Mai for the training and learned that my friends the Haberkams together with Thara BledtJaw (who lives with them) were going to begin Thai lessons I was enthused with the idea and when their teacher, Kru Malee, asked if I wanted to join them my enthusiasm knew no bounds. And so I find myself up to my ears in new words, pronounciation, and all teh other paraphanelia of knowledge that comes with language learning.
All I can think of seems to be languages (hence the blog post.) It's all I can seem to speak of. The poor girls in the dorm where I stay! Everytime they turn around I'm wanting to know what something is in either Karen or Thai. Their patience would rival that of a saint. Anybody who speaks a second language I hold in awed revere and I will plague with questions as to how long they've spoken it, what language they think in, ect.
This last week's been crazy busy with continued classes, mega tests, and now Thai classes as well. All together we have about 8 1/2 hours of classes each day and that doesn't include exercise, study, or work.
Mealtime often finds me with my open book beside me trying to memorize yet another charcter or sound from the alphabet. (Did I mention that that nearly each symbol looks like a child got a hold of a pen and scribbled things that do have a faint resemblence to lines and donut holes and curly cues?) I'm committed to fluency and am praying for the gift of tongues. And so I remain... Gaw-gy, kaw-ky, kaw-kwud, kaw-kwy,.........