There’s one blog that I love reading, Andrew Hick’s Thai Girl as Andrew’s view of his world, helps balance mine. He helps me look at Thiland form another angle. His love and understanding of Thai culture and especially the aspects that usually make me feel critical. More importantly, he helps make me smile and laugh at my taboo culture.
Take this post on July the 6th which really made my drab day. Have a look at the photo below then you will see why. It’ s the menu from Surin.
Here in Thailand when you leave the vicinity of metropolitan Bangkok, you can almost believe that you’re in a different country. Bangkok has grown 50 times faster than any other provinces in the country. If you think that the rest of Thailand is similar to Bangkok then you will be so disappointed. But they do try to be cosmopolitan.
Having menu in both Thai and English will prove that you are sophisticated; nobody of course will have the heart to tell them that the menu has been incorrectly translated! 99% of the customers will never read the English bit of the menu and around 70% will not be able to comprehend the language.
But as the meaning gets loss in translation, it has become quixotically attractive.
Take this, ข้าวคะน้าหมูกรอบ which was translated as Cook the vegetables Yes, pork frame Uncle, with rice. Now at first you might think how can you get it so wrong but take yourself out of the box and break up the phrase word by word and you can see the effort used to translate this.
Pork, chicken, rice are words that all educated Thai can understand and able to translate but คะน้า is not common English word so effort has been put in, to try and find the nearest match. คะ is an affirmation in Thai and that is when you get Yes. Then น้า is a Thai word for uncle and aunt too but the translator has decided on this dish being male and that’s where you get the word Uncle. So by prefixing the word “vegetable” คะน้า, Chinese kale to us has miraculously become Yes and Uncle! 🙂 But the translator must be highly creative and felt the urge to rephrase and hence Cook the vegetables Yes, pork frame Uncle, with rice!
But Cook Chilli Sauce Burns Pork Frame Uncle, Andrew’s blog title, now that is a piece of art! It has been translated for ข้าวพริกเผาหมูกรอบ. Chili Sauce and pork all Thais know in English, now comes the hard bit, เผา if you look up this word in a dictionary then it literally means to burn and กรอบ has the literal translation of frame. However I don’t know where uncle comes from but guess its poetic licence! Who needs to know exact meaning when you have this beauties to brighten our day. Next time when I find myself in Surin then I must go for a meal there for old time sake!
Yes, there is justice to this world and my hours of extra English lessons have been finally rewarded with this superb translation! I love this country and its gumption! Rice With Crispy Pork and Chinese Kale, pale in comparison!
Mi casa es su casa.