A girl I once met and I travelled a lot around Thailand together talking about all kinds of things that occur in everyday chat. She asked me what car I have back in England, a topic that Thais find inspirational because we have a car each and do not have to share. The interest was followed with what car is the best car in England? I said Aston Martin,. She went on to explain that the best car in Thailand is the Fellerlee. I enquired of her, "I have never heard of that car before, what make is it?"
She replied "oh! I doh noh."
3 months later she chose to visit me in England and after the usual wrangling with bureaucracy to obtain the necessary visa I went to Heathrow to meet her for which you get charged £9.00 for parking whilst it is only 40 Baht in Suvarnabuhmi and I fail to see the reason for this difference!! But as we drove back up the M40 I could see in my mirror approaching rapidly a beautiful fresh out the showroom Ferrari 455. I commented to the girl "now that is a beautiful car" as it passed cacophonously by. To which she replied "I thought you never heard of Fellerlee?..
Thai is a difficult language to grasp and this section is for beginners, it is not the place to learn Thai. A good self-help tutor is Pimsleur's Thai and there are a lot of resources on the web but they are often misleading or incorrect.
Below are a few simple phrases for absolute beginners. Try not to panic or give up at the first hurdle and you can find a printer friendly version here.
Some of the sounds do not match well to the Western alphabet and often sounds are silent or only half used such as the letter 'h' except when in conjunction with 'c'. Chew is pronounced as in the English 'to chew your food' and translates directly as 'name', whereas Khao is pronounced cow (extending the 'k' sound with a silent h as in heat).
You may have heard the word 'Khraap' or 'Khrup'. This is a salutation or punctuation that must be used by men.
Women use the word 'Ka' or 'Kaar'. Again the letter 'r' in this usage is silent or the roll of the 'rr' is dismissed and the Kh comes from the back of the throat not the tongue. It is not necessary to use these words all the time but where they conclude the phrases below they are polite. You will find words that begin, or interspersed with 'R' and even pronounced 'rr'. Issan Thais do not do this and pronounce it as 'le' such as 'arai' meaning 'what' but is pronounced 'alai' (al eye).
Khrap - used by men to end a request or statement or on its own to say 'yes'
Ka - used by women but extended to Khaa when saying 'yes'
To say hello or goodbye (or any other greeting) is Sa wa dee -
So, a man would say sawadee khrap
And women say sawadee ka