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Seek a thai translater for only one sentence :-)

The art and science of translation to or from Thai, with examples

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Re: Seek a thai translater for only one sentence :-)

Postby Nan » Fri Sep 18, 2009 2:31 am

Thanks, Glenn, for your correction. แต่ขอสารภาพว่ายังงงกับแกรมมาร์ภาษาอังกฤษอยู่ค่ะ :D

The Thai sentence is clear by itself, no need any context to clarify the meaning.

It might be clearer if I rewrite it to " ความรักไม่ใช่สิ่งที่สวยงาม แต่ความรักมีค่ามากกว่าสิ่งอื่นๆ หากคนที่ไม่เคยมีความรัก ไม่เคยได้รู้จักความรัก จะไม่มีทางรู้เลยว่า แท้ที่จริงแล้ว รักคืออะไร"
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Re: Seek a thai translater for only one sentence :-)

Postby R.E.G. » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:01 am

mangkorn wrote:Personally, I might not attempt to translate it without knowing something more about the context in which it was delivered. But if forced to try, hmm, I'd search for an idiomatic English phrase, such as "...is not always a bed of roses..."

I do favor the last part of Glenn's suggestion: "...and one who has never been in love—never known love—can never truly know what love is" - which seems rather eloquent.


I was beginning to despair that nobody could see the contradiction. I suspect that this is not Thai at all but a translation from English, as you say 'bed of roses', I was thinking 'skin-deep' and as claude says 'not only visual', and I have noticed that Nan has come back in and found it necessary to rewrite the last bit which, if I knew what แท้ที่จริง meant, probably supports her contention that it is quality of knowledge not quality of love being talked about. Nan, I am still baffled that 'not beautiful' still appears to be accepted.

Is it worth dicussing the merits ofไม่เคยได้รู้รักที่แท้จริง I canot find รูรัก and presumed that it was รู้ความรัก but it could be รู้รัก, not in the dictionary; difficult to translate but so is ผิกชอบ any ideas? It seemed to me 'true love' at first, but now I think that since ที่ is there it must refer to the whole so 'what is it truly not have known love?' if ความรัก, or 'what is it to truly never to have copulated? if รู้รัก
Now I think that we are getting somewhere! We can leave in 'not beautiful' too.
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Re: Seek a thai translater for only one sentence :-)

Postby Glenn Slayden » Fri Sep 18, 2009 7:35 am

R.E.G. wrote:'what is it to truly never to have copulated?'


Well, as I explained above, ความรักไม่ใช่สิ่งที่สวยงาม has already copulated, ROFL. :lol: :lol:

ไม่ใช่ is called a negative copula, as in, "a football is not an eating utensil." Its opposite, of course, the copula, is คือ . There's a good discussion of this (for example, when to use คือ and when to use เป็น) in chapter 17 of Iwasaki[1].


1. Iwasaki, Shoichi., & Horie, Ingkaphirom. P. (2005). A reference grammar of Thai. New York: Cambridge University Press.
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Re: Seek a thai translater for only one sentence :-)

Postby R.E.G. » Sat Sep 19, 2009 6:56 am

Glenn Slayden wrote:
R.E.G. wrote:'what is it to truly never to have copulated?'


Well, as I explained above, ความรักไม่ใช่สิ่งที่สวยงาม has already copulated, ROFL. :lol: :lol:

ไม่ใช่ is called a negative copula, as in, "a football is not an eating utensil." Its opposite, of course, the copula, is คือ . There's a good discussion of this (for example, when to use คือ and when to use เป็น) in chapter 17 of Iwasaki[1].


1. Iwasaki, Shoichi., & Horie, Ingkaphirom. P. (2005). A reference grammar of Thai. New York: Cambridge University Press.

I suspect that ไม่ใช่ is not supposed to be a copula. I think that probably the popularity of the use of the English term copula, which was no big thing when I went to school, is to cater for the fact that some Thai verbs translated to English appear to be an adjectives, although the battle to preserve this Thainess has been lost; even the latest RID has capitualated in the word ฉลาด I can foresee a time when the difference between a verb in Thai and a verb in English can be forgotten and we can put in a copula, it may as well be the อิส แดงฉลาด= แดงคนฉลาด=แดงอิสฉลาด
I think that this mergeing of the syntax is what has made Thai so difficult to understand; so no thanks I don't want to buy any more books until I have finished reading the Thai books which, being less deep, are easier to fathom.
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Re: Seek a thai translater for only one sentence :-)

Postby Glenn Slayden » Sat Sep 19, 2009 8:09 am

R.E.G. wrote:the fact that some Thai verbs translated to English appear to be an adjectives, although the battle to preserve this Thainess has been lost;

Thanks for your reply. I think that you may be confusing the oft-hashed issue of predicative adjectives in Thai with my use of the term copula. The latter is quite harmless and is in fact a valid (and obscure) concept in both Thai and English grammars. Again I refer those interested to Iwasaki for more information, but it is a minor point.

The larger point, as I believe you indicate, is the "Thainess" of adjectives in that they can function as verbs. This website has had quite a history with this issue (search for "attributive" in the message board, for example) but after working with my graduate school advisor Prof. Emily Bender on Thai for two quarters I believe I understand the correct approach, which does respect the "Thainess." In essence, the problem lies with trying to assign Western part-of-speech categories to Thai adjectives, which can assume dual syntactic roles.

The key is to simply acknowledge that คำคุณศัพท์ ("adjectives") in Thai can serve in a predicative role. Rather than try to fit the word into a cut-and-dried category, we acknowledge a syntactic variation which allows the adjective to function as a "standalone" predicate. At other times, the adjective can function in its attributive role (the only role that adjectives may have in English).

At some point I will be updating material on the website to reflect this...
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Re: Seek a thai translater for only one sentence :-)

Postby R.E.G. » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:51 am

This is what I am trying to learn from you and I don't think that it should be difficult. I am sorry to make you go over all this again and will look at the topic you suggest; thanks.
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Re: Seek a thai translater for only one sentence :-)

Postby R.E.G. » Sat Sep 19, 2009 10:09 am

R.E.G. wrote:This is what I am trying to learn from you and I don't think that it should be difficult. I am sorry to make you go over all this again and will look at the topic you suggest; thanks.

Whoops tried 'attributive' search, and came straight bact to you above!
I was hoping that the predictive feature of an adjective didn't exist because I have never read of it in any definition, however a verb showing the condition or character of a noun is covered in the definition of a verb : คำที่แสดงอาการ สภาพ หรือการกระทำของคำนาม not always predictive. This is what I understand by the term copula.
Last edited by R.E.G. on Sat Sep 19, 2009 6:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Seek a thai translater for only one sentence :-)

Postby Glenn Slayden » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:39 pm

Hi R.E.G.

Thanks for sticking with it. I'm learning too. Here's the earlier discussion of "fat" as a verb.

As for คำที่แสดงอาการ สภาพ หรือการกระทำของคำนาม ("A word which shows the condition, state, or action of a noun") as a definition of "verb," I think it also describes Thai adjectives. Again, this confusion is natural since in Thai the difference is subtle. Where does this definition come from? It describes words with two roles:

  • attributive (showing a condition or state of a noun)
  • predicative (showing the action of a noun)

I would say that the definition actually better describes Thai adjectives, and that true verbs are a more limited category in Thai, because they can only show the action of a noun.

Let's take an example of trying to use a true verb as an "adjective" in the Western sense. What happens is that it turns into verb serialization.

เด็กวิ่งไปตลาด
xxx "The running(?) child goes to the market."
ok "The child goes running to the market."

The summary is that the class of true verbs of action in Thai is very small, compared to Thai adjectives. The adjectives are more versatile because they can (all?) function either attributively (e.g. like Western adjectives) or predicatively (e.g. like verbs).
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Re: Seek a thai translater for only one sentence :-)

Postby R.E.G. » Sun Sep 20, 2009 8:53 am

Glenn Slayden wrote:Hi R.E.G.

Thanks for sticking with it. I'm learning too. Here's the earlier discussion of "fat" as a verb.

As for คำที่แสดงอาการ สภาพ หรือการกระทำของคำนาม ("A word which shows the condition, state, or action of a noun") as a definition of "verb," I think it also describes Thai adjectives. Again, this confusion is natural since in Thai the difference is subtle. Where does this definition come from? It describes words with two roles:

  • attributive (showing a condition or state of a noun)
  • predicative (showing the action of a noun)

I would say that the definition actually better describes Thai adjectives, and that true verbs are a more limited category in Thai, because they can only show the action of a noun.

Let's take an example of trying to use a true verb as an "adjective" in the Western sense. What happens is that it turns into verb serialization.

เด็กวิ่งไปตลาด
xxx "The running(?) child goes to the market."
ok "The child goes running to the market."

The summary is that the class of true verbs of action in Thai is very small, compared to Thai adjectives. The adjectives are more versatile because they can (all?) function either attributively (e.g. like Western adjectives) or predicatively (e.g. like verbs).


Thank you indeed, I have no trouble sticking to it. I realized that this is 'translation' so started a new topic in Grammar.
The book I am reading now is only for kids aged about 12 I am younger than that in Thai, and it is a step for me as it is for students, and there will be higher levels. There is a piece early in the book about the invention of the written language and how the language is the inheritance of the Thai. I desperately want the language to be different from English and, like the Thai diet, fear that it is becoming an American francise. The way to learn the language in English is to use phrase books not grammar. Just as serious students have discovered they need to get away from phonetics as early as possible, so, I think should we get away from comparisons with English grammar as soon as possible.
When you quote me in the definition of a 'verb' you are wrong, it is the definition of a คำกริยา not a verb. เด็กวิ่งไปตลาด is not difficult 'child goes to the market at a run'. The fact that it could be translated as a running child or goes running is immaterial, I would say running child because วิ่ง is อกรรมกริยา เด็กวิ่ง เป็นประโยคที่สมบูรณ์แล้ว and ไป is สกรรมกริยาที่ต้องมีกรรมหรือผู้ถูกกระทำมารับ I think!!!!
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