"Learn a few words of Thai" Thailand Local Custom Tip by phil_uk_net

Thailand Local Customs: 307 reviews and 224 photos

  Learn a few words of Thai
by phil_uk_net

First, an admission. Despite having made 6 trips to the Kingdom, I only recently started to learn some Thai. After doing a TEFL course in 2002 my interest in language was re-awakend but before that I was just plain lazy and anyway, everyone understands English, don't they?

Many people visit Thailand (like I did) and don't bother learning more than 'Hello' and 'Thank you'.

Learning a few more phrases can go a long way with the locals and it can be really useful if you are off the beaten path where people don't speak any English.

Just learning some numbers is a good start. It will give you an edge when bargaining and if you can pick out some numbers in a Thai conversation you will know if you are being conned in certain situations.

The language isn't that difficult compared to, say, Czech or Dutch. I haven't made any studies but the grammar seems to be quite straightforward without a lot of the different verb tenses that English has.

It is a tonal language and it is this that is most difficult for foreigners. Theoretically the same word can be pronounced in 5 different ways, each one having a different meaning. There are flat tones - high, medium and low - along with rising and falling tones.

Several English/Thai phrase books are available but make sure with the one you choose that the Thai words are spelt phonetically and spend some time understanding the phonetics. Even so, it is very unlikely that you will make yourself understood by learning purely from a book. The only sure way is to listen to a native speaker and repeat the word or phrase back to them until it is correct. The good thing is that almost all Thai people will get a huge kick out of helping a funny sounding farang and will be only too pleased to help.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Feb 17, 2003
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