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What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Sans Phoenician October 12, 2015

Thailand has been booked! That’s right, my grand adventure is complete with a place to lay my head every night! I know that may not seem like a grand backpacking adventure, but not having all my train tickets booked is like a really big deal for me. Mostly because I don’t know if I’m going to be able to figure out where I am in Thailand, let alone where I want to go! I’ve had this problem before. (Click here to read about the time I got lost in Paris.) But my real fear about Thailand comes from not being able to read the alphabet. Not the words. The alphabet.

You see, Thai language does not use the Phoenician alphabet, which is, you know, what I and probably most of you use. Now, their language is (apparently) written in Phoenician letters for travelers, but the words aren’t always spelled the same. I was trying to find a hotel on Ko Pha-Ngan and couldn’t find one for the life of me, because the more popular spelling that my guide book apparently didn’t feel the need to mention is Koh Phangan.

It’s stressing me out, y’all. And the thing is, the Phoenician alphabet is something that we all really take for granted. You never sit there reading a book and say, “Hey, some really clever guy thought of these 26 letters to express the different sounds we know as language.” We just look at the ABCs and take them for granted.

So, while I continue to stress over finding the bus to the right place in a land where I can’t read the signs and the signs I can read may or may not match my Lonely Planet guide book, let’s all take a moment to appreciate the alphabet and send a grateful thought back in time to the genius who made a bunch of meaningful squiggles that make all of our lives so much easier.

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One Response to “Sans Phoenician”

  1. avwalters Says:

    I thought I was gifted in language indifference. I could handle French or Spanish without so much as a second thought (not really fair, since I speak French.) Then I ended up somewhere where the street signs were in Chinese. The loss of the familiar alphabet threw me for a loop! Ah, comfortable alphabet–even if I don’t know what you’re saying–I can pronounce it.


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