When in Thailand, Speak Thai
So you’re thinking of going to Thailand and want the low down? You are in for a rare treat to be able to experience the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this exotic culture first hand. Whether for business or pleasure, long stay or short visit, you will not want to leave Thailand when the time comes. You will have memories for a lifetime and will always have a longing to return.
The most prevalent language spoken in Thailand is Thai. This is another of the tonal languages from which many other languages of adjoining areas have been derived. Just as the English language has many variations (dialects), so has the Thai language.
Written Thai is based on an alphabet adopted from the Cambodian Khmers and is thought to have been standardized during the Sukhothai period. The Thai alphabet consists of 44 consonants, 18 vowels, and 4 diphthong (tonal) notations.
The differences often are word usages, pronunciation, intonation and/or enunciation. The Lao, Isan, Cambodian and Khmer languages have much in common so when you learn Thai, you will be able to easily adapt to other dialects and many other Asiatic languages. Because of the differences in the alphabet, Thai will be a different learning experience, but definitely worth the time and effort.
Though many Thai natives speak English and many visitors manage well without speaking Thai, it is so much more enjoyable if you learn (at a minimum) some basic Thai before going. For one thing, you can understand what the natives are saying (about you?) and that can be very helpful sometimes, especially in an uncomfortable situation. You will be able to explore and shop on your own without the cost and bother of a guide. And besides, you will be the visitor – it is only reasonable that you try to speak their language as a courtesy to them. Even if you don’t do it well, they will appreciate your efforts and show you respect in return.
You might be apprehensive about trying to learn a new language, or think it is too expensive, or too time consuming. But surprisingly enough, learning a language has become much easier over the past few years. This is due mainly to the internet and interactive learning. As speed learning has increased, cost has decreased so now you can go online an hour or so a night (at minimal cost) and before you know it you will be speaking like a native. If you’re unsure if this is the right way for you to learn a new language, not to worry. Transparent language offers free language software for you to download! Give it a whirl, and see if it’s right for you.
There are other reasons for learning a new language as well. Think about the following points:
Brain Stimulation and Life Skills Improvement:
The brain is stimulated by learning a new language and cognitive/life skills are increased as well. The old phrase “Use It or Lose It” is actually true when it comes to brain power. As we age we must constantly challenge our brain with new thoughts and activities. And this challenge has to begin early in life and continue as we age.
Simplify Your Life:
Learning the language of your host country makes your day to day life much easier. You will not need a guide everywhere you go, you will be able to avoid the hassles of shopping for the best buys, you will be able to merge into the ebb and flow of native life without feeling like a stand-out, and you will become a part of the local landscape. Imagine yourself in the crowd at an impromptu performance of native theater or dancing – you won’t have to wonder what the narrator is saying or when to applaud/cry/cheer, etc. You will have an enhanced appreciation of everything Thai.
Communicate Directly With The Locals:
You will be able to learn first hand the Thai culture, habits, values and religion if you speak with them in their own language. You will be able to better appreciate their attitudes and attributes. You will be able to explain your own position on issues; remember what the people think of you is what they will think of all people of your country.
Improve Business Possibilities:
If you can speak the language, business can be transacted faster and without all the bother of translators. Business will increase and be more profitable when you are able to negotiate on your own, face to face.
Be Appreciated By The Locals:
Native people will appreciate the fact that you have made the effort to learn their language. Whether you have mastered it or not, the effort you made to try will be noticed as it means you have a respect for the Thai people. Respect is very important to the Thai, both in public and in private life. If you respect them, they will respect you.
In conclusion, you are going to have a wonderful visit to Thailand. Their relatively conservative values, their love of family, their exotic music and colors, their tolerance of religions, their industrious nature and their partiality to the tourism industry will all impress you. You will want to return again and again. Your knowledge of their language will indeed serve you well and will have been worth the time it took to learn it.