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  1. #1
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    If you are talking in Thai to a foreigner on the phone, what are the things in their accent which would give away where they are from ? And how would, say, the accent of a native english speaker differ from that of a native chinese speaker ? I'm just wondering as I've no real idea what kind of accent I've got when speaking Thai but I want to try and remove it as much as possible, that's a bit difficult though as I don't know what to change!

    For instance, a Thai person talking English in a heavy Thai accent would generally overstress the final syllable of some words ('ba-na-naaaaa' for 'banana', 'ea-seeeee' for 'easy' etc...), sometimes swap the 'r'' and 'l' sounds, drop the second consonant at the end of a word ('roun' instead of 'round&#39, or change the final letter the way it changes in Thai ('yes' to 'yet&#39. What would a foreign speaker of Thai with a heavy accent do ?

  2. #2
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    Sometimes I get wrong numbers come in on my cell phone. If I answer with a normal "hello" they either put the phone down without speaking or say "I am sorry" in English. However, if I say a long "hello" with a Thai accent they will then think I am Thai and then start a long conversation!

    Yes, you are right how they pronounce English words with the emphasis on the final syllable. I find that when I am speaking Thai with my work collegues and I have to use an English word in the middle of the sentence I have to pronounce it in the Thai way in order to be understood. I sort of do this automatically now as I have heard them speak "English" so much.

    To learn how Thai people speak English words I found it useful to use their English-Thai dictionaries which have how to pronounce the English words with Thai letters. Some letters (like V, TH etc cannot be represented properly by Thai letters and so they mispronounce.

    I think it is very hard to break the accent barrier. You certainly have to be here in the country to have a chance of doing that. I think one foreigner that speaks Thai very well is Andrew Biggs. He is on tv quite often. I can understand his Thai so much more than when I listen to native speakers. I think this is because he pronounces very clearly. So many Thai people get lazy when they speak Thai. I wonder what Thai people think of his accent.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, I've had similar experiences when talking on the phone, but at least I understand what's going on in the 'thousand times hello' type phone calls now!

    I was more wondering though what distinctive sounds non-Thais make when talking in Thai rather than Thais talking in English. If I had to guess it would be incorrectly pronouncing the hardest vowel sounds that we don't have in English (like 'meuang', 'loei' or the very short ones like at the end of 'laugh' - 'hua-ro&#39, or just generally getting the tones pitched incorrectly, but I don't really know.

    As for Andrew Biggs, I'd agree his Thai is very impressive, my ex-girlfriend said he 'poot chat maak maak, poot meuan kon tai loei' so I guess Thai people think he can speak Thai pretty well too

  4. #4
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    Gor Gai

    That link was so funny. I laughed out loud. I must have had so many phone calls like that when both sides just said "heloooo" for half an hour.

    I have no idea how I sound when I speak Thai. Probably very bad. I guess that as I am at the stage that I can judge whether a Thai person is speaking "good" Thai I should record my own voice and judge myself!

    Usually I cringe when I hear foreigners speak Thai. I don't know why. But, the Thai, on the whole, always pretend they are speaking excellent Thai. I think it is a case of people getting used to your accent as when I meet a new group of people I am usually back to sqaure one and they don't understand me!

    A little while ago there were a couple of adverts on tv with foreigners speaking Thai. One of them was advertising a delicious source which you can put on anything. The foreigner said "a-rai, a-rai, a-roy" meaning whatever it is on it is delicious. But the Thai couple thought he kept saying "a-rai, a-rai, a-rai". To them, there was no clear distinction between the words. For months after this every single stranger that I met away from the office came up to me and said "a-rai, a-rai, a-roy"!!

    I just remembered another one I saw the other week. This time a group of tourists in a jeep. They were lost and consulting a map when they came across a Thai boy. They then opened their phrase book and asked in Thai where a bridge was. The boy looked puzzled while they continued until he finally asked in perfect English "Do you speak English?" That reminded me that I can usually understand foreigners speaking Thai far better than Thai people. I always thought that was because Thai people are not so good at putting two and two together. But, I am not so sure now. I think it is more to do with accents.

    Anyway, even though I have meandered I don't think I have really helped you with your question!

  5. #5
    arsira Guest
    i find most thai male had speak strong accent from their nose,like making sound more focus on nose tone.they like to drag when speak in english and won't slang the accent as westerners do.as for chinese native,when we speak english,we speak with short vowel sometime ommitting the last words also.but all these are just base on certain individual as some people are rise aboard or accepted english education from young.

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