The Power of One Syllable, Lessons from Thailand

In Thai, the way you say thank you takes three syllables. If you are a woman, you say “kop koon kah” if you are a man you say “kop koon krahp”. When you say it, the “kop koon” is said quickly, quitely, and without accentuation. The “kah” and “krahp” both have the “ah” sound extended. For men, the “p” at the end is also hardly audible. So, essentially, “thank you” has been symplified to one syllable – “ah”, and it has made appreciation easy to express.

As an example, we were at the most beautiful buddhist temple I have had the pleasure of visiting yesterday. The Doi Suthep temple sits on the Doi Suthep mountain peak outside of Chiang Mai. An elephant actually chose the location in the 1300’s. From the road there are 300 steps to get to the temple grounds. The steps are about ten feet wide, and flanked on each side by one long green-scaled Asian dragon, about 4 feet in diameter, whose head is at the bottom and end of tail is at the top.

There are a couple points on the stairs where there was a group of teenagers or young adults that held out a box and were asking for donations for a cause. They would explain their cause in Thai, and whenever a donation was made (which happened quite often), the group of people would all sing out “kaaaaaahhhhh” in unison.

The simpler the message, the more effective it is. You can’t get much simpler than one syllable. It made for a great soundscape as we traveled the path to the temple.

Leave a Reply