So, What Language Are We Speaking?

22 January 2014; AT5 = 1063 hours; total class time = 2001 hours; TV = 483.6 hours

Like a lot of simple transactions, it was almost wordless – and could, in fact, have been conducted entirely without spoken language.

As she bagged my head of cabbage, the vendor (a woman I’d never before dealt with) simply said ten.

Or at least that’s what I thought she said. I was momentarily puzzled when she gave me fourteen baht change for the twenty baht note I’d handed her. Then I remembered having run into the exact same confusion when buying some cooked rice over a year ago.

Probably, she was using English, not Thai. Thais often have difficulty pronouncing the X / KS sound, as well as a lot of the consonants that appear at the ends of English words (as noted previously). So someone trying to say English six with Thai pronunciation often ends up saying something that sounds a lot like the Thai word for ten.

Or maybe I didn’t really hear the last consonant(s?) in the word she used.

And although I wasn’t thinking about it consciously, probably if I was expecting anything it was Thai, not English – this was at a market that I hardly ever see westerners at.

The fact that the “conversation” was only one word long would certainly have contributed to the ambiguity regarding which language we were using.

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