29 June 2013; AT5 = 1036 hours; total time = 1974 hours; TV = 254.3 hours
Today on the BTS I found myself standing right next to two Thai women who were having an on-again, off-again conversation. So of course I started paying attention, wanting to know: would I be able to understand what they were talking about?
They stood to my left, less than two feet away. There was a bit of noise in the background, but nothing too bad. I leaned against the wall in the corner of the car and stared straight ahead, not wanting them to realize that I was trying to listen in. But the sounds that passed between them were an indistinct murmur – except that now and then certain words would pop out totally clear, like bold print on a white background.
I don’t think that they were sometimes mumbling, sometimes speaking clearly – their voices didn’t really seem to change. I think it was me, I was experiencing the sounds of the Thai language in two very different ways: what I’d become really familiar with registered as clear and distinct words, while everything else remained on the level of meaningless and indistinct sound. Maybe a visual analog would be a sign that had been weathered and abraded, but somewhat unevenly, so that some of the print could still be made out as words, while other portions would register merely as an abstract image with no attributable meaning.
I never did get any real idea of what they were talking about though.