29 April 2014, TV = 746.1 hours
Some of my mistakes in Thai happen when I hear what I thought I was going to hear instead of what was actually said. In other words, my perceptions sometimes get shaped by my preconceptions.
Yesterday I went to my building’s office to pay the rent. They happen to have a giant beehive on display there, probably about a meter across. I’ve always been curious about it, so to make a little small talk I commented on it and then asked what it was called in Thai.
I was already kind of thinking of the beehive as a house (of) bees or bees’ house (in Thai). I may even have referred to it as that. It’s not that I thought this was the real way you would say “beehive” in Thai – but I didn’t know what else to call it. I wasn’t explicitly thinking this is what they really say in Thai or this is my own provisional and
possibly probably incorrect Thai. I wasn’t really thinking about it either way.
(And now I’m trying to remember if at some point I heard a bird’s nest being called a house (of) bird, and if so whether this influenced my Thai thinking about beehives. Can’t remember – oh well….)
It’s a house (of) bees, the guy said – or at least, that’s what I thought he said.
House (of) bees, I repeated in Thai.
℘ (of) bees, he corrected, where ℘ was another word – one I don’t remember hearing before – that didn’t sound terribly like the Thai word for house, but bore some similarity: the two words kind of rhymed. Maybe sort of like mixing up english house and mouse. Or house and moose. Or something like that.
℘ (of) bees I repeated. Then I thanked him and left.
Man, I thought, that thing’s more like a supermegagiantichumongous apartment complex!
PS: if you thought this post was simply the bees’ knees, then check out Stan Carey’s post on pseudotranslations, which is all about the bizarro things people can say when they try to speak a foreign language, and to which I contributed a comment that sort of concerns…murine grooming.