I snapped this sign at the back of a rural Northern Thai market. It’s a restaurant hawking Southern Thai food. I didn’t have a chance to try the culinary artistry but I fell in love with the bold colours and the kaleidoscope of fonts, including some retro styled lettering.
The pot-bellied fellow in a chef’s hat is a creative adaptation of the nang talung, Southern Thai shadow puppetry.
Some of the promotional message on the sign is in Dambro, the Southern Thai language. It’s very different from Kam Muang, the Northern Thai language, which is the sole language you hear spoken in the market there. Neither one of these tongues are what’s considered the “Thai” language, which is really the native language of the central Thailand, though taught in schools and used as the lingua franca throughout the nation.
Sadly, the scripts of various regional languages have been phased out over the past century. Travelling around the North, you will still see the old script written on temples and official government buildings, but almost no one in the general public can read this nod to their cultural heritage. They speak it day in and day out, but use the central Thai script to approximate the language as best as possible.
Interestingly, the Southern Thai language is famed for being spoken very fast. And the Northern Thai language is famed for being spoken slowly. But the region where I snapped this sign is the only one I know of that’s known for speaking really fast Northern Thai. Maybe it’s fitting they have a Southern restaurant there?