Before I came to Thailand, I had never given a thought towards compound words. Now, I find them everywhere and fascinating. Every day, I try to look up at 5 new words to expand my Thai vocabulary, and I come across lots of compound words. Whenever the word is not one syllable, I try to look up the base words. It is usually very logical, and I have come to the conclusion that Thais are masters of the compound words. Here are the English translations of some Thai compound words I have come across so far:
Conditioner-cream knead hair
Besides compound words, names are also very interesting. Every Thai has a name, and then a nickname which everyone calls them. I honestly hardly know any of the real names at my work. The nicknames are usually one or two syllables—which thankfully makes a name like “Amy” acceptable. It has been hard, for me at least, to memorize these names because they are so different from the American names I am used to. Instead of names like Ashley, Emily, or Alex, it is “Oat”, “If”, “Lek” and “Rot”. Also, they have direct translation, so it is hard to know if they are talking about the thing or themselves. Rot means car and there is a small sized girl whose nickname means little. I would have to say the strangest name I have come across is Biia (aka Beer)—I would not like to have that name.
Update on Fat talk:
The two year old who les host house nickname is oo-at, that’s Thia for fat. For the longest time, I actually didn’t know what her real name was. Yes, I agree she is pudgy and not the skinniest, but she is not the fattest. Sometimes, Her family will lift up her shirt (very lovingly) and say “fat” “fat” “fat” and point at her belly. I don’t know what kind of social implications this has, but I know I would not like it. Also, I can think of a few people in my family who would be called oo-at (fat) early in life, and turned out just fine.