A Little Adrift

A Little Difficulty…Can I Please Live in the Matrix?

Thai monks takes a break from his sunset sweeping

So, I’ve started taking Thai lessons – just one class so far, and yet I’ve come to this ripe conclusion: I may have been a little crazy in thinking I could learn Thai.

Thai is hard. (And I swear, I wasn’t saying that in a whiny voice…) I’m living in Thailand for four months and that should technically be enough to learn a passing fair bit of Thai, especially if you ask Benny the Irish Polygot (who claims three months is enough for conversational mastery of any language).

The thing is, as far as the tonal languages go, Thai is fairly easy from a grammar point of view. But for a non-tonal language speaker, this is a whole new ballgame and a far cry different from the romance languages I’ve already mastered (Spanish and English), my Italian comes and goes relative to my proximity to Italy, and American Sign Language really isn’t coming in too handy yet on my world travels.

A Word about Tones…

Tonal languages may use the exact same word itself to signify different words and the word meaning changes depending on the tone you use. There are five tones in Thai: low tone, mid tone, high tone, a rising tone and a falling tone.

Take the word “mai” (written in Roman English…obviously…not Thai script :) This means anything from “not” to “wood” and then “silk,” “burn,” and “new” and is a question indicator to boot!

Confused yet? I Am.

The one thing I have going for me is the fact that I love learning new languages.

Or any new skill for that matter.

I like knowledge as whole.

I also like sharing new knowledge, a slightly obnoxious quality if you’re a friend of mine who listens to me prattle on about my latest issue of National Geographic. It sounds corny, but I do believe those “knowledge is power,” all knowledge is worth having,” lines (the mysterious) they feed you.

So, with all of this in mind, the Thai language is high on my list over the next four months, and photography comes in as a close second. I won’t go so far as to pretend I’m going to master either skill in four months, but I’m in a perfect spot for learning both right now and they’re both things on my life list that I can then check off.

Gratuitous street food photo in Chiang Mai, Thailand

A shout-out is in order to Daniel from Canvas of Light, he’s my photography tutor; he’s swell. And in addition to drawing me a lovely little triangle of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed for my first lesson, the markets, wats, and people of Chiang Mai are shaping up as perfect backdrops for future photography trails!

That rounds out two of my own personal learning goals for the coming few months, what skills, knowledge, languages are you working on right now? Any fun classes or things you can cross off your own bucket list before summer?