What got you interested in the Thai language?

Discussion not language-related, such as general Thailand news, resources, and other off-topic things.
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ReubenA
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What got you interested in the Thai language?

Post by ReubenA »

At the start, for me, I had never learned a foreign language. I didn't get into this because I was interested in language in itself, I just wanted to be able to speak to these foreigners. I thought it'd be really fun to be able to communicate in a new language, and it was! I couldn't comprehend what it would be like to be able to speak another language so I wanted to experience that.

Once I reached a basic conversational level my motivation has changed. I'm getting more and more interested in mastering the language and enjoying the learning process more. Reading through an article online is like working through a puzzle for me. Cracking the meaning of a sentence that I initially don't understand is like trying to break open a safe.

What got you into it initially? What's your motivation now?
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PatrickK
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Re: What got you interested in the Thai language?

Post by PatrickK »

I came to Thailand and quickly realized it was necessary if I wanted to understand the culture. However, the first first months here I was traveling almost continuously so I didn't focus as much as I could have had I stayed in 1 spot.

I had a close friend who was very interested in learning Thai and was constantly motivating me to get better. Whenever we went out he would be practicing and teaching me new things.

Once I started traveling a bit less and staying in a 1 place for more than a month, I really started to focus on it. I actually enjoy the challenge, and being able to understand the culture and communicate with the people is a huge motivation for me. I've learned so many things from studying Thai, and lessons that can be applied to so many other things in life. It is the first language (aside from English) that I seriously studied (though I spent a lot of time studying Spanish in school and it wasn't effective - no motivation, etc. I also studied a bit of German a few years ago).

The more you know the more you can know, so I try to focus on making progress everyday. I would say I'm probably more motivated to learn now than every before.

I'd be interested in hearing others motivations for learning as well.
Robyn.fnq
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Re: What got you interested in the Thai language?

Post by Robyn.fnq »

I first learned a few phrases before a Thai holiday. I just feel it's polite to speak to people in their own country, not that any of them could actually understand me, but they appreciated the effort. Now it's becoming more serious, I've decided the script isn't just a bunch of meaningless squiggles, but I still have a long way to go before I feel comfortable moving there and speaking with locals. I have a couple of Skype friends and have a chit chat occasionally, but youTube is my greatest ally at the moment.
Years ago I learned a bit of Italian before my European backpacking trip, and I was so happy that I'd impressed a few people with my efforts that I think it should be stressed on everybody to at least try.
I am so sick of people coming to Australia, going on benefits or getting a job and free housing, and for years flatly refuse to try to learn English. So I'd love to help someone else learn English too, if they are doing it for the same reasons I'm learning Thai.
farang84
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Re: What got you interested in the Thai language?

Post by farang84 »

Other than liking languages and it being polite to learn the language of the country one plans to live in - it's incredibly annoying to be illiterate and at the mercy of other people. Communication goes much more smoothly. How anyone could live here for several years and not want to learn the language is beyond me.
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PatrickK
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Re: What got you interested in the Thai language?

Post by PatrickK »

farang84 wrote:Other than liking languages and it being polite to learn the language of the country one plans to live in - it's incredibly annoying to be illiterate and at the mercy of other people. Communication goes much more smoothly. How anyone could live here for several years and not want to learn the language is beyond me.
It is beyond me as well. From the older expats I met in Chiang Rai they say "I have no use for it, if I need to communicate I'll call my wife". It is hard to argue, since they couldn't care less about getting into the culture or understanding it.

It is surprising how it is accepted almost as well for foreigners to not speak Thai. If you lived in France and didn't speak French after 5 years you'd probably be scrutinized. With that said, in order to learn Thai you have to make a conscious effort, and people are innately lazy.
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Tod Daniels
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Re: What got you interested in the Thai language?

Post by Tod Daniels »

I decided to learn thai after living here 3 years (of the 10+ I've been here now) and running time and again into the lack of even rudimentary english skills when dealing with people here.

I also learned it because I live alone and don't have a "long haired thai translator" following me around 24/7 who could "speak for me" I still needed to get things done here but compelling thaiz to speak english was a slow, tortuous process, often times filled with frustration and misunderstanding.

Now this may sound harsh but I mean no outright disrespect; if the thaiz possessed even basic english skills I wouldn't have invested the last 7+ years into learning how to speak/understand, read/type this language.

However, with that being said, I found once I could speak thai the entire country immediately opened up to me :) . I wasn't relegated into the foreign dominated tourist areas of the country :o . I didn't have to rely on mime, charades, hand puppets and stick figure drawings to get my point across :shock: . The better I got at thai, the better experiences I had here with the thaiz :P and the better it seemed I was treated by the thaiz too! :lol:

I'll be the first to say, learning thai is a tough row to hoe (especially for a middle aged adult who only speaks english :oops: ).

However it pays off IF you stick with it!! :D
Whoever said 'Money can't buy you love or joy' obviously was not making enough money. <- Quote by Gene $immon$ of the rock group KISS
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PatrickK
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Re: What got you interested in the Thai language?

Post by PatrickK »

Isn't it something like 85% of Thais can't speak English? That means you're severely restricted in this culture. I think the benefits are quite clear, but it isn't easy. Takes time and commitment, no doubt. And most don't have one, or the other, or both, and hence why you see very few foreigners end up learning the language.
farang84
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Re: What got you interested in the Thai language?

Post by farang84 »

It's amazing how much opens up to you once you get past tourist Thai. Also, I'm not one for having people speak for me - especially when there's some sort of business involved. A Thai speaking on your behalf may settle for what would not be the best deal, simply because it saves face. If my money is on the line, greng-jai is not the first thing I'm concerned about.

I was also taught to always "read before signing anything." I think it to be a bit foolhardy to just sign something and trust what others tell you.
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Tod Daniels
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Re: What got you interested in the Thai language?

Post by Tod Daniels »

farang84 wrote:Also, I'm not one for having people speak for me - especially when there's some sort of business involved. A Thai speaking on your behalf may settle for what would not be the best deal, simply because it saves face.
I agree with "farang84" I am also not a fan of someone "speaking for me".

Also, now that I can understand pretty much anything I want to listen to in Thai, I've witnessed some incredible "disconnects" where foreigners, hand in hand with their "long-haired-talking-thai-dictionariez" are conducting business at places like the True phone office and UBC the cable office (now True too)..

What the foreigners were telling their "thai-in-tow" to say was NOTHING remotely close to what was really being said to the staff in thai. It was so watered down, so over the top in politeness, that the foreigner woulda done better in engrish and hand gestures.. I've also witnessed "negotiations" for stuff where the thai with the foreigner said in thai, "Charge him 500 baht he doesn't know better, but give me 100 baht back." That is just plain unredeeming no matter how you parse it out. :shock: :(

Unfortunately, (mostly for the thai I'm interacting with) just because I'm talkin' to them in thai doesn't mean I'm not the same hard core, s/o/b I am in english.

Don't get me wrong, I understand thai culture and know why these people act the way they do in specific situations. However, in the same breath, being a born-bred-corn fed American I am not obligated in the least to follow thai "cultural rules of engagement" when speaking to thaiz in thai :o . My version of thai comes out harsh, terse, to-the-point and pretty abrupt. :lol: I wish I had a baht every time some thai said แรง in reference to the way I speak thai because it's pretty darned ฮาร์ดคอร์! :D

Last time I checked I ain't the ambassador of good will and warm fuzzy feelings between the US and thailand, I'm just tryin' to get things done here.. ;)
Whoever said 'Money can't buy you love or joy' obviously was not making enough money. <- Quote by Gene $immon$ of the rock group KISS
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