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bifftastic
4th Aug 2011, 20:43
In the thread about limes, we've outlined some of the difficulties Thai speakers have with English.

I'd like to hear some of the Thai learners' (or the people who have to listen to them butcher their lovely language!) most common errors.

What do you find most difficult?


I'm currently struggling with my reading, my friend in Bangkok will give me some Thai sentences on Facebook from time to time, but she puts gaps in the words, she's being kind I think :lol:

I must admit, I find it hard sometimes, especially when I'm in Thailand and I come out with a sentence, everyone stares blankly, then my wife repeats what, to me, sounds exactly the same, then everyone suddenly 'gets it' :lol:

colin244
4th Aug 2011, 21:22
I come out with a sentence, everyone stares blankly, then my wife repeats what, to me, sounds exactly the same, then everyone suddenly 'gets it' :lol:

Same here but its all to do with tones I believe which some westerners can't grasp (me included) although most Thai's are polite and smile at your attemp. As for reading no chance put me bottom of the class :D

colin 244

bifftastic
4th Aug 2011, 22:40
Yes, it's commonly believed that tones are impossible for us.

I don't agree.

I think that, sometimes, a Thai person just doesn't expect their language to come out of our mouths.

Even if you pronounce everything correctly, unless you have performed what someone once described to me as, the 'Language Dance', you will not be understood simply because it's not expected that you would be able to speak Thai.

Some small talk first, passing the time of day with some easily recognised phrases, before you get to what you actually want to speak about, can often help the person listening to you adjust their expectancy of not being able to communicate with you.

Don't rule out reading. I think it's worth the effort, it opens up the language so much.

I think too many people decide they can't do it.

As for tones, I think anyone that can understand Australians can, at least, hear a rising tone! :lol:

handyman
5th Aug 2011, 01:31
Yes I have found that as much as I am begining to get somewhere with the language, well I think I am :lol: It is frustrating when you speak to someone and they give you that blank look !!! I was amazed yesterday in the food court in Tesco's ... Asked in my best Thai for a bottle of nam ... Had the blank look :confused: Then another girl said ..Water !!! I guess its just something we have to accept.

colin244
5th Aug 2011, 22:04
My mothers hairdresser who is Finnish said when you actually live in the country you will pick up the language quicker listening to people and the tv which I believe is true as when I met wifey virtualy no English but having lived here she is probably better than some natives of the UK.

colin 244

guava
6th Aug 2011, 00:33
I think that, sometimes, a Thai person just doesn't expect their language to come out of our mouths. Have to agree 100%. This is a very common misunderstanding and leads to lots of frustration when attempting to use your well rehearsed Thai. The Thai person will be expecting English, and so will be listening intently so as to understand what you are about to say....... and they become disheartened that their "English" is not good enough to understand what you just said...... so they concentrate even more.. trying to pick out the English words.... not realising that there is no English to pick out!

colin244
6th Aug 2011, 01:40
Very good advice guava

colin 244

bifftastic
6th Aug 2011, 09:40
Yes I have found that as much as I am begining to get somewhere with the language, well I think I am :lol: It is frustrating when you speak to someone and they give you that blank look !!! I was amazed yesterday in the food court in Tesco's ... Asked in my best Thai for a bottle of nam ... Had the blank look :confused: Then another girl said ..Water !!! I guess its just something we have to accept.

I was down south in Ko Lanta (I'm usually up north) and used my 'lazy' version of the word ร้อน (laawn) when asking for some hot water, forgetting that the ร้ is more often rolled in the south. Got the blank stare, "hot water" I said...

"ohhh nam raawn!" was the reply! :)

Sib Baht
16th Aug 2011, 12:08
Yes I have found that as much as I am begining to get somewhere with the language, well I think I am :lol: It is frustrating when you speak to someone and they give you that blank look !!! I was amazed yesterday in the food court in Tesco's ... Asked in my best Thai for a bottle of nam ... Had the blank look :confused: Then another girl said ..Water !!! I guess its just something we have to accept.

What is it with Tesco/Lotus? :rolleyes: We were shopping on Sunday so went to the foodcourt first. 3 girls behind the counter so I handed her 200 Baht and said, "Loi ha-sib Baht khap." Blank look! Is it that complicated? She turns to the girl on her right and the girl asks me in English. "Do you want 100 Baht?" "150... Loi ha-sib," I replied. Another conversation ensues... Then I get my card and 50 Baht change. Yes very frustrating when we are making the effort to speak Thai.

Biff 100% on the money; it is just psychological that they are not expecting us to speak Thai. I'm considering asking them, "Khun puud pasa Thai dai mai khap?" Just to see what reaction I get. ;)

N Barton
16th Aug 2011, 12:29
Don't rule out reading. I think it's worth the effort, it opens up the language so much.

I think too many people decide they can't do it.

I am not at the stage where i am making a concentrated effort to learn Thai, although after each holiday there i promise myself that by our next visit to the family i will be able to offer a bit more than the odd single word !!
However i have looked into what i will use when i do eventually decide to go at it wholeheartedly.
I really do think that it is essential to learn to read and write Thai in order to get somewhere near mastering the language. Easy said than done i know but i certainly don't think impossible.. I understand that language can be learned by "copying" what you constantly hear, similar to a small child learning to talk, but that small child doesn't truely increase its vocabulary until it attends school and learns to read and write. Time to revert to childhood i think.

Sib Baht
16th Aug 2011, 12:50
You have hit the nail on the head NB. I am in school learning to read and write Thai and you do indeed need to go back to childhood. My course books are the ones used by children from day 1. Taking each consonant and vowel (consonant moreso) and writing it x amount of times to practice getting it right. Knowing the different sounds of the Thai alphabet will make your pronunciation better as you learn the unique sounds of Thai as opposed to English.

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/thai.htm

N Barton
16th Aug 2011, 13:28
You have hit the nail on the head NB. I am in school learning to read and write Thai and you do indeed need to go back to childhood. My course books are the ones used by children from day 1. Taking each consonant and vowel (consonant moreso) and writing it x amount of times to practice getting it right. Knowing the different sounds of the Thai alphabet will make your pronunciation better as you learn the unique sounds of Thai as opposed to English.

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/thai.htm

I think that is why many of us don't do it "properly"
This going back to "hello, what is your name, my name is XXXX" "how old are you, i am 44 years old" and the repetitive nature of it is all a tad boring to us adults.
When i have looked at "learn yourself Thai" type books i have jumped past the first few chapters because of the boring nature of them, it doesn't work !!!

bifftastic
16th Aug 2011, 14:00
It can appear daunting at first when you realise that there are so many letters! I stuck this video on my phone and played it over and over again just to get the alphabet in my head.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_REY-8sVJs

there's another one with the vowels too
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shQWMNlkLQQ&feature=related

After a while (about 6 months) I could recognise the letters when reading. With some perseverance and combining lots of different methods, all the usual websites thai-language.com Thai2English, Boomsan Becker's Thai for Beginners (book) I can now read quite well, although long passages make steam come out of my ears!

Now I need to increase my vocabulary, sentence structure etc.

When we learn another European language we're off to a flying start already as they're not that different from each other. With Thai, I get confused with placings of words like ให้ or ได้ as it's not often intuitive and can change the meaning of what you're trying to say(check this link for uses of ให้ http://thai-language.com/id/131398). But again, with practice, it becomes second nature, hopefully!

Also in common speech, like in English, words get 'blended' or shortened so if you're saying "give this to your Mum" we might say " give this tia Mum" so the separate words 'to' and 'your' become a single sound which is more like 'tia' similarly, you might hear "ow ni ba-hai mae" as opposed to "ow an nee bai hai mae"

It's definitely a challenge, but worthwhile in the end I think!

I was recently introduced to a fellow Englishman who is fluent in Thai, he told me to pretty much forget the tones (which surprised me) and get your speech to 'flow' as best as possible. Tones at the end of a sentence, yes, words like ขี้ and ขี่, yes (you need to be careful with these, or you might cheerfully announce that you have managed to pass a motorbike through your intestines, as opposed to having ridden it home from the shops :) )

but generally speaking, Thai is quite forgiving of tones once you can get the speed up, the context takes over.

Thanks for the omniglot link Sib, very useful :)

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I think that is why many of us don't do it "properly"
This going back to "hello, what is your name, my name is XXXX" "how old are you, i am 44 years old" and the repetitive nature of it is all a tad boring to us adults.
When i have looked at "learn yourself Thai" type books i have jumped past the first few chapters because of the boring nature of them, it doesn't work !!!

It doesn't work if you don't do it. I don't think you need to re-visit the old school French lessons of 'monsiuer et madame Dubois allez a la plage' but you do need to get your tongue around the consonant and vowel sounds.

You won't find much of interest at the beginner level in terms of sentence content. Simply because there's not much you can say with basic words!

I presume you've tried Thai for Beginners, the Boomsan Becker book? If you can work through it without getting bored, the second book takes you much further, but you can't jump straight to it because the second book presumes you can read Thai a little, which you learn from the first book.

There's not really any way around it, you need to learn the basics first. :)

nigel&panada
17th Aug 2011, 08:09
Hi Bifftastic
Exactly the same for me , we were catching the ferry to koh chaing and i said to pan we need to be in lamb nop , she said its lgam ngop , i said lgam ngop , she said no its lgam ngop . We then had 5 min of this with me trying to copy exactly what she said with the result that i got every time " No darling its lgam ngop " , " But i'm saying lgam ngop " , " no baby it's lgam ngop" . I'm still trying to this day to get it right but just keep getting the same reply even when i think i've copied exactly how she said it . But i did manage to catch her out the other day when i phoned using skype and it did'nt display the phone No , and when she said hello i replied in Thai , luckily getting the pronunciation correct enough for her not to realise it was me for a few seconds , which caused her no end of ammusement.
Nigel & Panada

bifftastic
17th Aug 2011, 08:25
You're lucky you got 5 minutes :lol:
My wife was trying to get me to pronounce a neighbour's name correctly, it's a short name, the lady in question is from Laos, I got 2 attempts, I think, before she decided 'ok ok puut mai dai! she name "wife from Pi Laai"! :lol:

Lucky
17th Aug 2011, 17:48
I think there is a lot of truth in that Thais do not really expect to hear Thai from a falang and also it depends if you are talking to a person who has a lot of exposure to falangs as opposed to those in the more rural areas.
Slightly off topic why is it if you ask a Thai bar person for a "Coke" they always reply "Cola?" and if you ask for a "Cola" they reply "Coke?"

livingwithathaigirl
25th Aug 2011, 22:10
Yes, it's commonly believed that tones are impossible for us.

I don't agree.

I think that, sometimes, a Thai person just doesn't expect their language to come out of our mouths.

Even if you pronounce everything correctly, unless you have performed what someone once described to me as, the 'Language Dance', you will not be understood simply because it's not expected that you would be able to speak Thai.


Yes, I agree with this. It's sometimes amusing but sometimes annoying when my girlfriend has to translate something I just said in Thai to other Thais, saying exactly what I've just said. Sometimes it's because I've mispronounced a word (usually when trying to speak too quickly) but, with some people, I feel that they've just put a wall up when I talked.

The funny thing is that I find that some Thais whom I don't know understand every word I say in a conversation without trouble and can even praise me for speaking clearly but other Thais just never get me, even after they know me a while. This isn't context-dependent, it can happen on conversations where they get no clues about the content.

What do I find most difficult? Pronunciation or hearing certain differences in my own sounds. My girlfriend says I'm pronouncing something incorrectly and then tells me the right way but I can't hear a difference. Apparently I can't say the Thai word for sleepy, which I've known for years, although most of my ng words are OK. And sometimes they can't hear my r sounds (I can't roll them). Some Thais claim it sounds like a w, which I can't understand at all because those two sounds are different in English. So sometimes I'll say it as a 'l', which seems to cause less trouble!

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I think there is a lot of truth in that Thais do not really expect to hear Thai from a falang and also it depends if you are talking to a person who has a lot of exposure to falangs as opposed to those in the more rural areas.
Slightly off topic why is it if you ask a Thai bar person for a "Coke" they always reply "Cola?" and if you ask for a "Cola" they reply "Coke?"

You've reminded me of something. For a while I found it surprisingly hard to say words that Thai had adapted from English, but in the Thai style. "Menu", for example. At first it's really hard to stop yourself saying it the English way rather than the Thai "Men-oo". Also, those words were slower to leap out at me when reading.

bifftastic
26th Aug 2011, 00:46
Another thing that I struggle with, unless I really make the effort, is not being lazy with my mouth!

For example, the word เหมือน (meuan) as in เหมือนกัน (meuan gan) 'same as' needs to be spoken with a kind of 'wide mouth'
and the word มะม่วง (ma muang) 'mango' has a pronounced 'oowang' sound in the middle, with your mouth making more of an 'oo' or rounder shape.

This is why I think it's really important to try to learn the Thai script as soon as possible.

The transliteration of these two words can lead you to think they are pronounced in a similar way, however, once you can read them in Thai, it's obvious that "เหมือน" ไม่มีเสียงเหมือนกัน "มะม่วง"

livingwithathaigirl
26th Aug 2011, 22:39
I started learning Thai script pretty early because, after buying a Linguaphone course, I bought a few books to supplement it before starting and each of those had a different transliteration system (each claiming to be the best). Having more than one system made it more obvious that it was pointless learning a transliteration system that's only used for one book so you may as well learn the proper thing!

Oh, just remembered another of my mistakes. I bought the Linguaphone course 15 years ago, learned Thai script 15 years ago. At that time it was rare to find a farang who could read any Thai at all so I got too far much praise for what was really a basic level. That made me rest on my laurels too much and I haven't made much progress since! That's the trouble with Thai people praising the slightest effort - you start taking it easy before you should!

bifftastic
26th Aug 2011, 22:48
Yes, hearing "oooh puut Thai geng maak" when all you've said is "loi haa sip baht chai mai khap?" isn't the best encouragement to learn more!

:lol: