You want eat?

Thai, English or “Tinglish”?

“You want eat?” “Yes I want eat.” Recognise this language? No? OK, how about this, “How old you?”. “I’m ha sip sam years old.” Ah, the language of Tinglish. Part English, with several omissions and a bit of Thai that nearly all expats, at some point, have resorted to.

But why do we resort to that? If you speak English to nearly all Thais in the way you would back home, often you can see the lights are on but nobody’s home. So often we resort to fusing the salient words, omitting others and sometimes adding a Thai word or two to communicate better. And voila! Tinglish.

Question is,  should we? Well if you can make yourself understood I guess that’s OK. But in other circumstances perhaps we shouldn’t. Try as I might to speak “normal” after 5 years of marriage, I still end up speaking Tinglish with my wife. So not much of a surprise when she asks, “You go golf?”

Yet with my young sons, I talk to them as I would back “home” and would you believe it, they’re starting to talk the same as me. Which is how I would like them to speak English.

I think it takes time and patience to avoid Tinglish, trying instead to speak English as you would in your home country. With someone you’re going to be with for a long time I think the effort is worth it. I can’t turn the clock back in how I speak with my wife now, if only I’d taken the time.

Still, she’d never speak proper like what I do. “I want eat!”

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