One thing that I was told a while ago is that the quickest way to make enemies is to talk about religion and politics. I don’t actually believe that, but I do typically avoid those subjects on this blog. Being that today was Sunday, I thought I would give a few interesting memories and contrasts I have found while studying religious themes in the languages that I am pursuing.
Praying in Thai
One of the first lessons I was given about Thai, when I became a missionary, was how to pray. My teacher asked us, “what words and phrases do we need to say a prayer?” One of my fellow newbies raised his hand and said, “we ask thee….” and our teacher quickly started writing on the board. He wrote pûak kâa prá ong. Of course I thought that must mean ‘we thank thee,’ but then the teacher turned around and said, “that means we”
What!?! All that just to say we? That was my introduction to the 3 levels of Speaking in Thailand. There is an informal casual set of vocabulary, a formal register of vocabulary, and then a royal form of vocab. There was some over lap and sometimes there was little difference between the various forms other than an extra prá put at the beginning of the word. That said, a good portion of the time, there is entirely words used for the same thing, depending on the situation.
I really liked using it though. In Prayer, I feel it is direct communication with God and when you use a royal vocabulary, it reminds me and makes me realize who I am communicating with. I have enjoyed using Thai in regular prayer for this and other reasons as well.
Praying in Spanish
When I started asking about prayer to my cousin, who is already fluent in Spanish and lives in El Salvador, he taught me some basic phrases that are common to use. The thing I noticed was that, unlike Thai, the language of prayer is the more familiar form, or in other words one would use tú and not usted. I have liked this as well. I believe that God is our Father in Heaven and is one we should be familiar with. Using Spanish in prayer has reminded me of that.
Which do I like better?
I like them both. I love how Spanish uses familiar language and keeps that close tie close. I also love how Thai reminds you who it is you are talking too. One should show respect and act respectful when speaking to your God.
I know not everyone believes in the same God as I do, or may not even believe in God. That’s okay. I do hope everyone takes some time off and ponder on things. Our God(s) and/or nature itself is something we should be show both strong respect and intimate familiarity with. Thanks for reading and enjoy your Sunday.