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Thai - How difficult?


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2 hours ago, cmarshall said:

If you have to ask how hard Thai is to learn, then the answer is that it is too hard for you.

Thanks for the helpful reply...

 

I can already speak Thai... I am not asking how hard it would be for me to learn, but was curious if there are rankings amongst languages as to how difficult it is.. a friend who speaks Thai had wanted a comparison to Vietnamese and the question expanded from there. I have heard that Mandarin and Navajo were particularly difficult... 

 

Though even for a beginner - it would not be an invalid question to ask... 

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My opinion after 30 years of Thai study.   To learn Thai presents many challenges to a speaker of a Western language beyond simply hearing and making the correct tones.   The five "tones"  b

Of the two foreign languages I’ve studied extensively, French and Thai, I’d say that for me at least, Thai’s around 20 times harder than French - ie for every hour of study to improve my French, 20 ho

My biggest issue is actually hearing the tones, I'm deaf in one ear and pretty crumby in the other (I'll spash out for an aid one day). Of course when speaking I invariably get the tones wrong and (li

6 hours ago, kenk24 said:

Thanks for the helpful reply...

 

I can already speak Thai... I am not asking how hard it would be for me to learn, but was curious if there are rankings amongst languages as to how difficult it is.. a friend who speaks Thai had wanted a comparison to Vietnamese and the question expanded from there. I have heard that Mandarin and Navajo were particularly difficult... 

 

Though even for a beginner - it would not be an invalid question to ask... 

 

Why didn't you say so?  According to the Foreign Service Institute, part of the US State Dept., for a native English speaker Thai is ranked 4.5 out of a maximum of 5, where 5 is the group that is hardest to learn.  

 

This ranking would be meaningless for a student whose mother tongue was other than English.

 

https://www.atlasandboots.com/foreign-service-institute-language-difficulty/

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44 minutes ago, cmarshall said:

This ranking would be meaningless for a student whose mother tongue was other than English.

I'd suspect the ranking's also pretty accurate for native speakers of Category I-II languages that don't happen to be close to the target language. Not sure about others.

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On 10/23/2020 at 6:56 PM, KeeTua said:

I wouldn't recommend people ignore tones but if they don't know or can't remember a correct tone they will often be understood by the context.

 

A very simple example:
A driver asks you "which way?"
If you reply เลี้ยวทราย the driver will almost certainly turn left even though you just said "turn sand." But you're in a car with no sand in sight so left it is.

 

เลี้ยวซ้าย is correct for turn left.

 

I know my tones aren't perfect, I wish they were, but I get by just fine speaking only Thai where I live in the boonies.

That's a good example, ทราย vs. ซ้าย. Also works for the caddies I see several times a week. But that little girl that I asked if she could sh*t a bicycle was horrified and didn't "get it from context." In a way, it's the reverse of the OP's question, in that it depends on the listener's starting point and experience. That's what I meant about families that learn to cope with the toddler atonal pronunciation and bad vowels and wrong consonants. 

 

I was once having coffee with my wife's boss, an Aussie. As we were getting up to leave, he said something like "GaaBoon Kha." Sure, the hostess "got it from context," and gave him a big Thai smile. I, on the other hand, barely contained my laughter (wife's boss and all). Most of us learn a decent "thank you" in Thai the day we get off the plane, but this guy was either delusional or couldn't be bothered. And copied his wife. 

 

Allow me to revise my statement: If your goal is to speak Thai (or Vietnamese) badly, ignore tones, and don't learn to read either. 

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2 hours ago, LawrenceN said:

But that little girl that I asked if she could sh*t a bicycle was horrified and didn't "get it from context."

One mistake I'm infamous for is the occasional incorrect pronunciations of ด vs ต. I was in the local hardware store just a few days ago talking to one of the cuties that work there. She was asking me about a project I'm working on and I said ทำตอนนี่ไม่ได้เพราะว่าร้อนแดด "Can't do this now because the sunshine is hot" is what I wanted to say but I've had it pointed out to me that I often mispronounce แดด 'sunshine' as แตด 'clitoris' so when she looked a little confused I quickly pointed up toward the sky to indicate I can't work because of the hot sunshine not because of the hot clitoris.

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12 hours ago, KeeTua said:

I quickly pointed up toward the sky to indicate

I would have interpreted that as you were saying a prayer, in hopes of getting some... 

 

things can get lost in translation... 

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16 hours ago, cmarshall said:

 

Why didn't you say so?  According to the Foreign Service Institute, part of the US State Dept., for a native English speaker Thai is ranked 4.5 out of a maximum of 5, where 5 is the group that is hardest to learn.  

 

This ranking would be meaningless for a student whose mother tongue was other than English.

 

https://www.atlasandboots.com/foreign-service-institute-language-difficulty/

Thanks - that is interesting. 

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