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BANGKOK 24 April 2019 01:55
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Ultrasonic Isaan!

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Sometimes my g/f talks to her friends or relations very excitedly and then goes nearly ultrasonic when she says something like ".... maak maak!". The first "maak" is the one that goes ultrasonic - it starts off normally and then gets higher and higher, and then is followed by the second normal one.

Questions:

1. Is there a name for this way of speaking? Her mother does it all the time when she is trying to emphasise something.

2. Is it just Isaan people who do it?

3. Should a farang try to speak this way? :o

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This phenomenon is not particular to Isarn. In central Thai it is described by Dr. Mary Haas as 'emphatic repetitive expressions'. I am quoting straight from "Thai-English Student's Dictionary", Compiled by Mary R. Haas, Stanford University Press, Stanford California. ISBN 0-8047-0567-4 (BUY IT! Well worth your baht, and more.) Abbreviated as T-E SD here.

"EMPHATIC TONES. Any of the five tones can be accompanied by the phoneme of emphasis. This is indicated [in T-E SD] by placing and exclamation point (!) in front of the syllable receiving this treatment. Such tones are uttered at a higher pitch level than their corresponding normal tones, and also have a somewhat "screechy" quality. They occur in exclamatory utterances. A high emphatic tone may replace any of the normal five tones in emphatic repetitive expressions.

อุ๊ยตาย !?újtaaj exclamation expressing dismay, ช้วยด้วย chûay !dûay Help! (an urgent call), ถุย !thüy [<ü> umlaut represents rising tone] imitative of a sound used to spurn someone.

Emphatic repetitive expressions: ดี๊ดี !díi dii Very good! and so forth. You can use it with any adjective basically.

Your 'ultrasonic' phenomenon is what they refer to as emphatic repetitive expressions. It is normally only used by women and khatoey, so if you fail to meet the qualification criteria for either group, you should not pick up the habit. I emulated it once, and was told I shouldn't, since it's a woman thing...

Cheers,

Meadish

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Your 'ultrasonic' phenomenon is what they refer to as emphatic repetitive expressions. It is normally only used by women and khatoey...

Thanks for the reply - I'm in bkk next week so I'll see if I can find the book. And thanks too, for the warning! :o

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It is normally only used by women and khatoey, so if you fail to meet the qualification criteria for either group, you should not pick up the habit. I emulated it once, and was told I shouldn't, since it's a woman thing...

yes, and true for duplication of Thai adjectives/adverbs in general ...

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Many farang men who use their better half/not-so-good-halves as main frame of reference and conversation partner for Thai, will also emulate female speaking habits which sound weird to many men...

I always get a kick out of hearing big, bulky, red-faced men with tattoos refer to themselves as "chan" or the cutesy nickname their girlfriend or a bar girl gave them...

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I always get a kick out of hearing big, bulky, red-faced men with tattoos refer to themselves as "chan"

I thought ฉัน [H]chan was the familiar (not intimate) word for 'I' for both sexes as well as polite (along with di(i)chan) for women. Has it been displaced by ผม [H]phom as a familiar form for men?

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Yes, Richard, you are right - "chán" is sometimes used in familiar situations by Thai men, but not indiscriminately and as a direct, all situations translation for "I" as you sometimes hear farang men use it.

[Here is what 'Thai - An Essential Grammar' has to say on the subject of ฉัน 'chán':]

"1st person ; commonly used by female speakers as a less formal, more friendly variant of dichán; also used by males as an expression of intimacy, when it is paired with thoe: and when speaking to children."

According to my Thai teacher, it does not ring quite right when men use "chan" to refer to themselves, and that it is much better to use "phom" in official and semi-official situations, and "norng" or "phee" according to your age in relation to the adressee, if you already have established a little more familiar relation with someone. Of course, if you are a father, you will refer to yourself as phôr when with your family.

This is what feels most natural to me.

All pronouns are context-sensitive, and the Thais themselves hesitate which one to use in many situations.

I have also had to accept that a somewhat separate standard is applied to farang (i.e. when you speak passable Thai and don't spend your whole day pissed on Chang tugging at bar girls, you are required to be a little more polite, otherwise you will likely be mildly told off by your Thai friends, which can get quite tiring. I find it difficult to fit into the whole deference system in general... as I am sure many others do.)

Just out of interest, has anyone here managed to establish a "kuu" - "meung" relationship with a Thai male friend (not as in a hostile situation, but as in being very close friends)?

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To me it seems like they only pronounce words with long vowels this way.

For example I never heard them pronounce expressions such as "Jing Jing" this way.

Suuuaaaay suay

Dtaaaaai dtai

Which leads me to another questions:

Am I correct when I claim that I only hear women use exclamations with Dtai (as in die in english)

Such as Dtai Laew, Dtai Dtai etc.

QUOTE : I have also had to accept that a somewhat separate standard is applied to farang (i.e. when you speak passable Thai and don't spend your whole day pissed on Chang tugging at bar girls, you are required to be a little more polite, otherwise you will likely be mildly told off by your Thai friends, which can get quite tiring. I find it difficult to fit into the whole deference system in general... as I am sure many others do.) UNQUOTE

Sure do. I have heard that ad nauseam. And I don´t buy it. Once I have established from the conversation what level of politeness is being used I adjust my vocabulary accordingly.

And if they don´t appreciate it and instead want the farang to speak the "King´s Thai" .... Well, tough luck.

Quote from conversation with thai friend:

"You shouldn´t speak like that, it is not polite!" "Well, but you just used the same terms yourself!!!!" "That is different, I am thai" !!!! :o

Yeah, right.

Cheers

Michael

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Yes, Richard, you are right - "chán" is sometimes used in familiar situations by Thai men, but not indiscriminately and as a direct, all situations translation for "I" as you sometimes hear farang men use it.

Just out of interest, has anyone here managed to establish a "kuu" - "meung" relationship with a Thai male friend (not as in a hostile situation, but as in being very close friends)?

A situation where Chan and Thur are being used exclusively seems to be in songs/karaokes and also in many thai movies although not the Lakhon/soapies.

I have a friend in Krabi, who always greets me like this:

Yet Mae, Mung Maa Eek Laew Rue? :o

He uses the Guu/Mung consistenly with me as he does with his friends.

But then he takes great pleasure in using the worst gutter language most of the time.

Cheers

Michael

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I have a friend in Krabi, who always greets me like this:

Yet Mae, Mung Maa Eek Laew Rue? :o

He uses the Guu/Mung consistenly with me as he does with his friends.

But then he takes great pleasure in using the worst gutter language most of the time.

Cheers

Michael

Boy, I guess! I wouldn't recommend using this term in your conversations with Thai people as it would likely get your block knocked off! Where I live I never hear 'chan' from women. But men will often say 'phom'

As for the ultrasonic on the second repetition, nope, it's done in the South too. My mother-in-law does it regularly (but then, her speech is usually ultra-sonic anyway :D )

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A situation where Chan and Thur are being used exclusively seems to be in songs/karaokes and also in many thai movies although not the Lakhon/soapies.

I was going to ask a similar question about "chun".... I was reading some LOSO lyrics the other day and was confused as to why an obviously male singer was using "chun" to refer to himself.... I always thought that "chun" was a female word..

พรุ่งนี้...ฉันต้องลาก่อน พรุ่งนี้...ฉันต้องจากเธอไป

proong nee... chun dtong laa gorn proong nee... chun dtong jaak ter bai

Just like to add that with regards to the "ultrasonic speaking"... my GF does this in English also... If she is making a particulary important point her voice will raise to a very high level, not unlike a screech .. :D

totster :o:D

Edited by Totster

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Funny this "ultrasonic and saying an adjective twice" also happens in the Chinese language, although not quite as often as we hear it in Isaan. Also the first word less "ultrasonic".

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