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Wats in Thailand; etiquette and speech

Religion, customs, politics, film, music, television

Moderator: acloudmovingby

Wats in Thailand; etiquette and speech

Postby withoutcolour » Sat Jul 24, 2010 4:55 am

Sawatdee ka everyone,

Heading to Thailand for a month in two weeks... I will be staying in Phetchaburi province, at Kao Look Chang, which is an animal sanctuary that is on temple grounds... I speak a good bit of conversational Thai (courtesy of Pimsleur and some books and internet lessons), but cannot read Thai yet...
Anyway, my real question is this:
I read in one of my Thai language books that there is a specific way of speaking to monks (ie, more formal), so be careful how you speak to them. I am a devoted Theravadin Buddhist, and know some Pali words (and I know some Thai Buddhist words are Pali loan words), but I don't want to seem like an impolite farang when speaking to a monk, if that opportunity arises. I want to let them know how beautiful and peaceful the wat is, and how much I love to meditate, how I am a follower of the dhamma (I've learned the phrase "chan bpen chaao put (ka)" but I realize this isn't the best way to say it necessarily), how nice it is to meet them ("yin dee tee dai ruu jak gun (ka)" = acceptable for someone as esteemed as a monk?). Anyway, I just want to come off as an educated American Buddhist woman who has taken an interest in learning some Thai... and someone is passionate about taking care of the elephants at the animal sanctuary.
Any advice? Experience?
Korb kun mahk ka.

-Brianna
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Re: Wats in Thailand; etiquette and speech

Postby Josh » Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:15 pm

I'm no expert, but I suspect you really won't get a chance to speak to any monks more so than just bowing to them when one passes you by. I don't think that, in the wat you will probably most likely visit as a tourist, you will get many opportunities to chat with the monks.
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Re: Wats in Thailand; etiquette and speech

Postby withoutcolour » Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:18 pm

Josh wrote:I'm no expert, but I suspect you really won't get a chance to speak to any monks more so than just bowing to them when one passes you by. I don't think that, in the wat you will probably most likely visit as a tourist, you will get many opportunities to chat with the monks.


Actually I'm going to be living on temple grounds for around 3 weeks.. the animal sanctuary I'm going to be working at is part of a temple
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Re: Wats in Thailand; etiquette and speech

Postby jariya76 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:20 am

The reality is you are never going to be able to learn the whole of royal, court or temple language by the time you get there. The most honest and helpful thing you can do for yourself and them, is "apologize" before you speak to them by saying that you're sorry, you're still learning Thai, your Thai is not very good, you don't always know how to say things in the right way, etc. Then ask them to please help you learn by correcting you. Keep checking in and ask, "Did I say that right?" "How should I say that to a monk? "How would a Thai person say that to you?" Most people (and I would dare to say especially monks) are going to be very forgiving to someone who is earnestly trying to learn their language. Most Thai onlookers (lay people), too, will appreciate your efforts to say things right. Ask for their help as well.

Now, as to how to say the things I proposed above in appropriate royal/temple language, I bow to the native speakers.
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Re: Wats in Thailand; etiquette and speech

Postby withoutcolour » Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:08 pm

So...
"I'm very sorry, I don't speak Thai very well." -- would that be more properly said:
"Diichan see-a-jai mahk ka... Diichan put pahsah tai da mai mahk ka." [I am sorry (very). I speak Thai not well.]
or
"Dii-chan see-a-jai mahk ka... Diichan put pahsah tai dai, dtair mai koydee tao rai ka." [I am sorry (very). I speak Thai, but not quite that well.]

Korb kun mahk ka.

Brianna
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Re: Wats in Thailand; etiquette and speech

Postby jariya76 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:42 pm

Any of those "apologetic prefaces" would be fine Brianna. I'm sure the first thing they will say back is "Your Thai is very good!" So then just add the part about wanting help and correction. I'll let you come up with that so it comes straight from you in your own words.
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Re: Wats in Thailand; etiquette and speech

Postby withoutcolour » Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:19 pm

Thank you very much :D
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Re: Wats in Thailand; etiquette and speech

Postby withoutcolour » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:45 am

My Thai phrase book suggests that "I would like to improve my Thai" is:

Diichan yahk ja put pahsah tai hai dee keun (ka).

Literally, [I / would like to / speak / the thai language / to cause to be / better/improved.]

Would you say that's an acceptable way to say that?
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Re: Wats in Thailand; etiquette and speech

Postby jariya76 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:16 pm

That sounds great. But I would ask a Thai native if you should be using "dichan". I almost never hear women using that pronoun, but maybe with monks it is the correct form.
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Re: Wats in Thailand; etiquette and speech

Postby withoutcolour » Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:48 pm

Yeah, I was going to use Chan here but I figured that diichan is more formal... I have heard that diichan is almost never used, but didn't want to seem impolite in front of the monks... but yeah, if chan sounds more natural then I shall use it
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