Thai Language Thai Culture: A House is a Home

Thai Language

This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.

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A Thai house is a home…

In English the word “house” indicates a structure whereas “home” includes the idea that this is where you “live”, thus we have the song “A House is Not a Home”. But all my Thai dictionaries (I have 8 now) define “house” and “home” the same – บ้าน /bâan/

บ้าน /bâan/ is the root of lots of other Thai words too. Here are a couple:

Birthplace: บ้านเกิด /bâan-gèrt/
– to be born: เกิด /gèrt/

Countryside: บ้านนอก /bâan-nôk/
– outside: นอก /nôk/

Vacation home: บ้านพักตากอากาศ /bâan-pák-dtàak-aa-gàat/
– to rest: พัก /pák/
– get outside, literally: to air out: ตากอากาศ /dtàak-aa-gàat/

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Country, e.g. Thailand: บ้านเมือง /bâan-meuang/
– city, country, town: เมือง /meuang/

Address: บ้านเลขที่ /bâan-lâyk-têe/
– number: เลขที่ /lâyk têe/

Village: หมู่บ้าน /mòo-bâan/
– group, constellation: หมู่ /mòo/

A house is to be lived in of course. There are a number of Thai words for “to live”. The most frequently encountered is อยู่ /yòo/, and then there is the more formal อาศัย /aa-sǎi/. And, as Thai will often do, there is the combination of two words that mean the same thing อยู่อาศัย /yòo aa-sǎi/. Or to make it even more fun, we can flip the two giving us อาศัยอยู่ /aa-sǎi yòo/.

So all the following mean “he lives with his parents” which is probably not so great in any language. Although many Thais do live with their parents until, and sometimes after, marriage.

เขาอยู่ที่บ้านพ่อแม่
kăo yòo têe bâan pôr mâe

เขาอาศัยที่บ้านพ่อแม่
kăo aa-săi têe bâan pôr mâe

เขาอาศัยอยู่ที่บ้านพ่อแม่
kăo aa-săi yòo têe bâan pôr mâe

เขาอยู่อาศัยที่บ้านพ่อแม่
kăo yòo aa-săi têe bâan pôr mâe

Making word lists…

A reader recently sent me a nice email saying that he thought these vocabulary building posts were helpful to him. It is always encouraging (ให้กำลังใจ /hâi-gam-lang-jai/) to hear that. He’s been using a list of beginning Thai vocabulary. I wrote back saying that I found a neat way to create vocabulary lists. Just look around you and list as many “things” as you see. Then you can look them up in your target language (this works for any language of course). Later you can add words that describe these things (adjectives) and then activities you can do with them (verbs). So I looked around my house and thought that the following short list of things would be useful.

Encouraging: ให้กำลังใจ /hâi-gam-lang-jai/

Parts of a House…

Bathroom: ห้องน้ำ /hông-náam/
Dining room: ห้องกินข้าว /hông-gin-kâao/
Kitchen: (ห้อง)ครัว /(hông)-krua/
Living room: ห้องนั่งเล่น /hông-nâng-lên/ also ห้องรับแขก /hông-ráp-kàek/
Room: ห้อง /hông/

Ceiling: เพดาน /pay-daan/
Door: ประตู /bprà~dtoo/
Floor: พื้น /péun/
Roof: หลังคา /lǎng-kaa/
Wall (of a room): ผนัง /pà~nǎng/
Window: หน้าต่าง /nâa-dtàang/

Things in a house…

Air conditioner: เครื่องปรับอากาศ /krêuang-bpràp-aa-gàat/ or แอร์ /ae/
Bed: เตียง /dtiang/
Chair: เก้าอี้ /gâo-êe/
Drapes: ม่าน /mâan/
Fan: พัดลม /pát-lom/
Furniture: เฟอร์นิเจอร์ /fer-ní~jêr/ or เครื่องเรือน /krêuang-reuan/
Rug: พรม /prom/
Sofa: เก้าอี้นวม /gâo-êe-nuam/ or โซฟา /soh-faa/
Table: โต๊ะ /dtó/
TV: โทรทัศน์ /toh-rá~tát/ or ทีวี /tee-wee/

I spy with my little eye…

Try this vocabulary building exercise while looking around your house. I call it the “I spy with my little eye” technique of vocabulary building (a game my kids loved to play when they were little ones).

As you are reading this post you are probably sitting at a computer. Doesn’t matter if it is a desktop, laptop, iPad, etc. Now look around you and make a list (in your own native language) of some of the things you can see around you. Find their meaning in Thai. Then think of some words that describe the thing and some actions you can do with it. Now try and compile all these words into a short simple sentence.

Here we go: I spy with my little eye – my computer speakers.

Things:
Computer: คอมพิวเตอร์ /kom-píw-dtêr/
Speakers: ลำโพง /lam-pohng/

Description:
Cheap, inexpensive: ถูก /tòok/

Action:
Listen: ฟัง /fang/

Putting it all together:

ฉันฟังลำโพงคอมพิวเตอร์ที่ถูกมาก
chǎn fang lam-pohng kom-píw-dtêr têe tòok mâak
I’m listening to very cheap computer speakers.

This can keep you busy all day.

Hugh’s fun Thai word for the month…

Really good, outstanding: ดีดเด่น /dee dèn/

This is another of those Thai double words (like อยู่อาศัย above). The different parts of many Thai double words, many of which are alliterative, mean close to the same thing and when combined they accentuate each other.

Good: ดี /dee/
Outstanding: เด่น /dèn/

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
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