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On The Myth That Thai Language Lacks "Tenses"

Discussion in 'Thai Language' started by Matthew, 7 Dec 2010.

  1. Matthew

    Matthew Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    This is such a silly notion (mostly, perhaps, amongst clueless barstool professors in places like Pattaya) that it deserves a thread all for itself. If you want to be a pedantic nazi about it, sure Thai doesn't have "a set of forms taken by the verb to indicate time" (tense) but it most certainly has time/tense markers and references that perform exactly the same function.

     
  2. MisterStretch

    MisterStretch Guru di guru-guru Ingeris

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    I understand the myth. And time tense markers don't make a verb tense, in my book. I understand Mandarin to be similar (and don't we deep down know they all have common roots?) "I eat yesterday" "I eat now" "I eat next week". If these are literal translations then no, Chinese doesn't have verb "tenses", they have time markers.

    Now look at your last group of examples. Are you translating verbatim or idea for idea? He already ate = He's already eaten in idea only, not verbatim.

    You bring up an interesting point though. Should we automatically makes those kinds of inferences already ate (or is that actually, he eat before) or should we be more literal in our translation? It's plagued linguists for centuries.

    In my classroom I advocate the translation of idea for idea, not word for word, because of problems just as you have described. But when a student queries me I will admit "In your language, you don't have this structure - BUT you do have this idea."
     
  3. Wangsuda

    Wangsuda Nonentity Staff Member

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    This is the same a Korean. Verbs never conjugate. We mark tenses through conjugation. Most Asian languages mark tenses through verb modifiers. In both cases, the time of the action is shown. In simple terms, English has verb tense, Thai has sentence tense. Both accomplish the same thing.
     
  4. crew

    crew Faber College Member

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    i believe those are the same people who say english only has two tenses: past and the present.

    i like the efficiency of thai grammar. i do however wish thai had a larger vocabulary.
     
  5. bird

    bird Member

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    The passive voice is also used:

    เมื่อวานมีผู้ชายถูกฆ่า : Meuawan mi poochai took kha. Yesterday a man was killed.

    Although the passive voice is used much more in English.
     
  6. bird

    bird Member

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    It's a relatively new language, compared to for example English.
     
  7. Matthew

    Matthew Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    When I posted the OP I didn't realize that the term 'tense' is more specific than the way I used it.

    Curious about this:

    How would that read in Thai active voice, Bird? Cut the 'mi'?

    What does 'took' mean exactly?
     
  8. Tonyja

    Tonyja Well-Known Member

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    It means true or correct or cheap, to touch, or to win

    In your sentence its a verb particle reflecting passive voice

    Look at this:
    My father gave ten dollars to my older sister..... active right... "Pa chun hai pee sow 10 dollar" father I g

    My older sister was given ten dollars by (from) my father... and passive. "Pee sow dai 10 dollars jak pa"

    It's just different. Not active or passive from what I can see.
     
  9. Matthew

    Matthew Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Cheers Tony
     
  10. Tonyja

    Tonyja Well-Known Member

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    No worries. Thai is much easier than English. :celebrate:
     
  11. Matthew

    Matthew Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Ironically, I'm back here stateside and just beginning to a bit more 'seriously' study Thai. Just.

    I had to get some distance from all the bullshit everyday Thai and get a little academic about it to rustle up the desire.

    It's the curse of snobbery. :celebrate:
     
  12. ramses

    ramses Well-Known Member

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    it should be present and non-present, not present and past. those who say present and past have nary a clue what they are on about.
     
  13. Tonyja

    Tonyja Well-Known Member

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  14. Matthew

    Matthew Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    THanks Tony...I'm actually very very aware of Thai learning materials but thanks.

    It's just a matter of finding more time really
     

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