Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years+

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dozer
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Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years+

Post by dozer » Fri May 09, 2014 12:07 pm

Why is it that many Farang married or in a long-term relationship with a Thai, cannot speak Thai.

Is it not easier to learn Thai with a long term partner?
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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by PeteC » Fri May 09, 2014 12:19 pm

It depends upon motivation and environment. Many have Thai wives and Thai friends who insist upon speaking English all the time when in the presence of an English speaking person in order to learn it and master it. If the husband becomes discouraged because of this, they just seem to give up in my experience. In many households the foreigner has to be very motivated, and pushy if he wants to communicate in Thai. Pete :cheers:
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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by zeitgeist » Fri May 09, 2014 12:52 pm

Myself and my wife only speak Thai to each other (4 years total, 2 married), I didn't set out to learn Thai but it became a benefit to me as I moved to Thailand (3 years) and the business we run together is 90%+ Thai customers. I suspect that in many circumstances there is greater benefit for the Thai to speak English than vice versa.

Age can also be a factor, often the foreigner is older than their Thai wife, as we age learning a new language can become more difficult. Not looking to insult anyone with this statement as there are many older people who are learning Thai but it is a consideration.

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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by Big Boy » Fri May 09, 2014 1:05 pm

I came to Thailand with every intention of learning the language. However, everytime I mispronounced something, my wife made such a big thing of it, I gave up. It isn't easy with a Janner accent.

I had a similar experience with French. Learnt French at school for 10 years. The first time I tried to use it in France, the guy would not understand - hence my hatred of languages. I've simply wiped the French language from my mind.
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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by oakdale160 » Fri May 09, 2014 1:22 pm

Thai is difficult, within a few months in Japan and china and with only two hours a week of instruction, I could shop, direct taxis, ask my way, make a few small talk conversations, after several years in Thai I can do none of those

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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by richard » Fri May 09, 2014 1:29 pm

BB ^^ Same, same. However, I do believe another couple of factors come into it.

1) A Thai wants to learn English from you and not teach you Thai
2) Often they prefer to converse with each other about you and other farangs without you knowing what they are saying

Knew a guy who spoke fluent Thai and fluent Laos/Thai. Thais were irritated. As soon as they knew he readily understood their conversations in Thai they would revert to their village dialect. When they realised he could understand that too they dropped the 'Thai smile' and clamped up.
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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by oakdale160 » Fri May 09, 2014 2:02 pm

I am not sure I agree, your two factors are present in other Asian countries too, but expats do master the languages. The unease by the locals of you understanding their language is very evident in Japan. There was a time when it was a crime for a Japanese to teach foreigners the language.
As far as HH is concerned, the low number of working expats as opposed to retirees, means less people with a need to learn the language.
By the wayBB, what is a Janner?

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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by Bamboo Grove » Fri May 09, 2014 2:22 pm

oakdale160 wrote:
within a few months in Japan and china and with only two hours a week of instruction
If you were able to do it in Chinese, you should be able to do it in Thai as well. Imho, Chinese is far more difficult to pronounce than Thai.
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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by heartofmidlothian » Fri May 09, 2014 2:38 pm

Very difficult to learn Thai if you start at an older age. Nearly all the good Thai speakers came here when they were young.
A lot of people get discouraged because they set out to learn too quickly instead of just trying to learn a couple of words per day. You must loose your own accent and try to copy the sounds they make.

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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by Gérard » Fri May 09, 2014 2:42 pm

Bamboo Grove wrote:oakdale160 wrote:
within a few months in Japan and china and with only two hours a week of instruction
If you were able to do it in Chinese, you should be able to do it in Thai as well. Imho, Chinese is far more difficult to pronounce than Thai.
I agree with you, and a great help is that Thai is alphabetic and much easier to learn if you include the alphabet, which takes only a few weeks to master.
So, you can read in a few months, but you will need a few years to speak fluently.

Now, if English is easier for Thai to learn, I have rarely heard a foreigner's wife speaking correct English with an extensive vocabulary.

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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by Gregjam » Fri May 09, 2014 4:02 pm

Considering the amount of foreigners here I still get surprised reactions when I converse in Thai. I found that I reached a level that is sufficient for my needs and only really increase my vocabulary when the need arises. Working away half the time it can be hard to keep up but living in an area with few foreigners around I get to talk go Thai neighbours a lot. Richards second comment does apply as I do find that most Thais do not expect you to understand them and disparaging remarks will be made in front of you which can result in difficult situations. Best to say something early on so the Thai person realises you understand.
Pronunciation is the biggest problem I find and it is sometimes necessary to get the Thai to realise you are trying to speak their language so they engage the necessary brain cells to translate when your tones are totally wrong. No, you are not going to the beach for dogs fecal matter!
Overall I think that it is difficult to learn to speak however learning to read helps in the process as you are not reading the correct character rather than a phonetic symbol. It's a slow process and requires perseverance but many Thais will respect you more for having a go.

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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by Gérard » Fri May 09, 2014 4:27 pm

Gregjam wrote: Pronunciation is the biggest problem I find and it is sometimes necessary to get the Thai to realise you are trying to speak their language so they engage the necessary brain cells to translate when your tones are totally wrong. It's a slow process and requires perseverance but many Thais will respect you more for having a go.
I agree with you and although I am a former translator, it took me a few years to be able to have a real conversation. But I do not remember having heard any disparaging remarks in 14 years...

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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by Gregjam » Fri May 09, 2014 5:22 pm

I was recently in Chiangmai Mai and a comment was made in the elevator by another guest in a nice hotel about me bringing in bottles of water from outside. Bit of a sour face when I responded as he got out after going up one floor asking my wife if the hotel had wheelchairs for people who obviously could not walk up one flight of stairs. Most comments are indirect and come from taxi riders commenting about the passing Farang and his wife and when in Bangkok on more than one occasion the taxi driver has tried to rip me off and offered to shard the proceeds with my wife. Kids often say things but I don't blame them and will comment loudly in their parents presence about it being the duty of the parent to prevent their children developing "dogs mouths".

I try to be careful when and where I make these responses as I know how Thais can react when losing face. Too many foreigners have ended up in hospital over such responses.

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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by Gérard » Fri May 09, 2014 6:42 pm

Gregjam wrote: I try to be careful when and where I make these responses as I know how Thais can react when losing face. Too many foreigners have ended up in hospital over such responses.
Agree with you again ! When I was younger, I was quick to answer (quick wit), but I have calmed down and I think it is much better in Thailand.

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Re: Speaking Thai to wife, partner or girlfriend of 10 years

Post by dozer » Sat May 10, 2014 9:58 am

People have different reasons for not be able or willing to learn to speak Thai, but to me if you are with a long-term partner, who has made the effort to speak your home language, then it is right for you to make the effort to reciprocate.
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Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity. R J Hanlon

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