marcel barang

How soon is ‘soon’?

In English on 02/10/2011 at 5:46 pm


Thirty-three years and counting. After all this time, I still keep learning Thai, or rather Thai mores.

On 20 September, when he called me to say that Jadet Kamjorndet had just been awarded the SEA Write this year, a jubilant Siriworn Kaewkan told me, ‘He’ll be in Bangkok tomorrow. I’ll take him to see you next week.’ I looked forward to the visit.
On 26 September, I received an email from Jadet, ผมกับ ศิริวรจะไปหาคุณในเร็ววัน แล้วค่อยคุยกันครับ (‘Siriworn and I will come to see you soon, then we’ll talk.’)
The next day, as it happened, I went to the dentist and, as always, stopped by to buy a broiled chicken and three bags of glutinous rice. Back home, I sent an answer to Jadet’s mail: ‘If you come this evening, I’ll treat you both to khao niao kai yang. Just bought a whole beast.’
I had dinner that night and then lunch and dinner the following day on guess what.

A week later, on the morrow of the book fair that will no doubt keep the two of them busy for a week or so, I’ve grown wise to the use of ในเร็ววัน.
What in fact Jadet’s line meant was: Sorry, we can’t make it for the time being…
This is a bit unfortunate, as I have just translated not only yet another story by Siriworn (‘Lanta, Carrie May and me’) but also a third by Jadet, ‘As if it began with the rain’: its nine thousand words have occasioned quite a few perplexities to this translator-editor who needs to be enlightened. Preferably ในเร็ววัน.

Meanwhile, on another front, that’s it: over a couple of days, my PC has retrograded to the 32-bit mode, which turns out to be 86-bit in geek terms. Don’t ask. The Oxford multilingual dictionary is back, but for some reason the Hachette strenuously refuses to copy. Never mind, I’ll use the laptop connection…


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