License vs. Signature
As an intermediate Thai speaker, I will share my opinions about the Thai language, specifically, contrasting it with English. I hope to be interesting to English-speaking Thais and Thai-speaking foreigners.
Something that struck me recently is the subtlety between the Thai versions of “signature” and “license.” First of all, by “license,” I do not mean, “driver’s license,” I mean “software license.” The former is simply ใบอนุญาต but the latter is ไลเซ่น or ไลเซ้น — I’ve heard it both ways.
Contrast this with “signature”: ลายเซ็น. The first syllable is in principle longer but not helpful in practice. The only answer is the tone of the second syllable. Context does not help much: project manager types will say ต้องมีไลเซ้น (หรือลายเซ็น) เรียบร้อยไว้ก่อน.
So I often find myself sometimes unconsciously rewinding the tape and playing it back to make sure I heard right.
Update: November 30, 2007
Yesterday I was in a meeting attended by a vice president from J.P. Morgan. His English was excellent and he had seemed to adopt the western accent for this word while speaking Thai: ลายเซ่นส์ with the final “S” pronounced as well. It sounded natural enough, I suppose.