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Lesson Transcript

Michael: How has English influenced the Thai language?
Nantanee: And what about other languages?
Michael: At ThaiPod101.com, we hear these questions often. In the following situation, Mark Lee is talking to Thida Thongtong about the toll the last storm took on their electrical appliances. Thida says,
"My computer broke."
Thida Thongtong: คอมพิวเตอร์ของฉันพัง (khaawm-phiu-dtôoe khǎawng chăn phang)
Thida Thongtong: คอมพิวเตอร์ของฉันพัง (khaawm-phiu-dtôoe khǎawng chăn phang)
Mark Lee: โทรทัศน์ของพวกเราก็พังเหมือนกัน (thoo-rá-thát khǎawng phûuak rao gâaw phang mûuean gan)
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Thida Thongtong: คอมพิวเตอร์ของฉันพัง (khaawm-phiu-dtôoe khǎawng chăn phang)
Michael: "My computer broke."
Mark Lee: โทรทัศน์ของพวกเราก็พังเหมือนกัน (thoo-rá-thát khǎawng phûuak rao gâaw phang mûuean gan)
Michael: "Our TV broke too. "

Lesson focus

Michael: English is the official language of 55 countries. And, although it only comes second to Chinese as the most widely used language, it comes out on top as an international language. From business to academia, there’s no question how essential the English language is. And that is one of the major reasons that it has a huge influence on other languages. You’ve probably heard of “anglicism,” which refers to words or phrases borrowed from the English language. Just like most languages, Thai has its anglicisms too, a development called Tinglish.
Nantanee: ทิงลิช (thing-lìt)
Michael: In 1994, the term Tinglish was first coined, but, back in the 1970s, it was known as Thaiglish
Nantanee: ไทยกลิช (thai-glìt)
Michael: As you can guess, it’s the fusion of the words, Thai and English. Thai English is a vital instrument employed by Thais not only in casual conversations, but even in professional communication.
[Recall 1]
Michael: Let’s take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Thida Thongtong says "My computer broke?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Nantanee as Thida Thongtong: คอมพิวเตอร์ของฉันพัง (khaawm-phiu-dtôoe khǎawng chăn phang)
Michael: Did you notice how the Thai for “computer” or
Nantanee: คอมพิวเตอร์ (khaawm-phiu-dtôoe) [SLOW] คอมพิวเตอร์ (khaawm-phiu-dtôoe)
Michael: sounds exactly the same as it’s pronounced in English? The accent may be that of Thai, but the pronunciation of the English word is retained. One reason for this is that these loanwords from English do not have any equivalent in the Thai language, and were therefore adopted by Thai speakers as if they were Thai words.
Michael: In this lesson, you learned that Thai speakers tend to adopt English words into their vocabulary. This is also called Tinglish
Nantanee: ทิงลิช (thing-lìt)
Michael: and, while some people might not approve of this practice, others see it as a vital and necessary linguistic tool. That said, here are a few loanwords from English that have been adopted into the Thai language. The first one is
Nantanee: กัปตัน (gàp-dtan) [SLOW] กัปตัน (gàp-dtan)
Michael: or, “captain.” Another word is
Nantanee: ซุปเปอร์มาร์เก็ต (súp-bpôoe-maa-gêt) [SLOW] ซุปเปอร์มาร์เก็ต (súp-bpôoe-maa-gêt)
Michael: which means, “supermarket.” And then there’s the word,
Nantanee: แท็กซี่ (tháaek-sîi) [SLOW] แท็กซี่ (tháaek-sîi),
Michael: for “taxi,” and the word
Nantanee: แฟชั่น (faae-chân) [SLOW] แฟชั่น (faae-chân)
Michael: for “fashion.” There’s a slight difference in how some of the words are spoken, but it’s not difficult to capture the meaning if you understand the context in which the words are used.
Michael: While some cultures consider the overuse of English words in their language unacceptable, the Thai people seem to share little of the rest of the world’s sentiment. Most are not really concerned about the negative impact the English language may have on their native tongue, or
Nantanee: ภาษาไทย (phaa-sǎa thai)
Michael: To a vast majority of Thais, English is seen as the language of business. They understand that learning English will bring progress to the country. On the other hand, the younger generation perceives English as fashionable, or
Nantanee: ทันสมัย (than-sà-mǎi)
Michael: and believe that knowing how to speak English is vital to staying relevant in an ever-evolving society. Tinglish may exist as a part of the Thai culture, but English is almost exclusively used by Thais to communicate with foreigners and is seldom mixed with Thai. That being said, there is very little concern among Thais that English may be a threat to the existence of their language. Thailand has never been colonized, so English is not a language of colonization to them. They are very proud of their cultural heritage, and they see English as an important instrument of communication rather than a threat.
Cultural Insight/Expansion
Michael: English is not the only language that has influenced Thai. While we can’t call the number of Chinese loanwords in Thai “a lot,” it’s interesting to note that the number of Thai people learning and speaking the Chinese language, or
Nantanee: ภาษาจีน (phaa-sǎa jiin),
Michael: is growing. This is not a surprise, considering that the oldest and most prominent Chinese community outside of China is located in Thailand. As of 2012, this Chinese community consists of 10 million, or 14% of Thailand’s total population. And Thailand is not taking the Chinese language lightly. Back in the 1980s, learning Chinese in Thailand wasn’t allowed. These days, more and more Thai people are studying Chinese. China’s deputy education minister has even signed an agreement in 2006 to help train 1,000 Mandarin language instructors every year to send to Thailand. We are yet to see a development of something like Tinglish between the Thai and Chinese languages, but the influence of the Chinese language over the Thai language cannot be denied.


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Nantanee: แล้วพบกันใหม่เร็วๆนี้ค่ะ (láaeo-phóp-gan-mài reo-reo-níi khà)
Michael: See you soon!

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