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  1. #1
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    Loy Toy's Avatar
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    Do you have to read, write and speak Thai to be successful in life here?

    A few of my fellow members here have tried to dig me in the ribs about the fact I cannot read and write Thai!

    When I first arrived here over 20 years ago I really thought it was necessary so I learned about 20 Thai letters (how to write and meanings) in about 3 nights and then thought too myself......... why.

    All my strategic Thai work colleagues and customers spoke perfect English, including my secretary and solicitor and I decided that my time and brain matter should be dedicated to coming up with ideas, winning orders and making money.

    In fact at the outset of all of the meetings I have attended over all these years I have started speaking Thai and they (The Thais) prefer to conduct the meeting in English.

    Lazy, yes in some peoples eyes I probably am but successful..........well as far as I am concerned I am content with my lot.

    Maybe one day, and when I have the time on my hands I will learn Thai in it's entirety but until then..................delegate whenever possibly and with regard to any non profitable, unnecessary exercises and tasks.


    Interesting to know what others think!


    Footnote: Learning to speak Mandarin would certainly be my first priority anyway!

  2. #2
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    Only for social reasons I think

  3. #3
    Thailand Expat Bobcock's Avatar
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    Depends what you want to do, but to be successful here you certainly don't need to speak Thai.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by good2bhappy
    Only for social reasons I think
    Thanks happy for your comment.

    In fact my spoken Thai is OK and particularly when it comes to obscure Thai engineering terminology (working on the shop floor) but I truly have never felt any frustrations and with regard to not being able to read and write Thai.

  5. #5
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    As I don't work here, knowing the basics like reading a menu and have a basic conversation with my neighbours seems to be well enough.

    I don't think beeing able to read Thai Rath or Daily News could enhance your intellectual ability.

    That's enough for somebody living here.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcock
    Depends what you want to do, but to be successful here you certainly don't need to speak Thai.
    I also agree bob but some people see it as a real disgrace that I am still illiterate and with regard to written Thai and after being here for so long.

  7. #7
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    No, but after 20 years you should have picked it up.

    Doesn't it piss you off that you have to have things read or translated for you.

    I've found it useful on many occasions.

    Even educated Thai fuck up when reading and understanding instructions

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wallalai
    I don't think beeing able to read Thai Rath or Daily News could enhance your intellectual ability.
    I agree!

    I am presently writing up some new product design patents and for me to lodge these documents in Thailand I will need to have them translated into Thai.

    I had a quote today and it will cost me 5,500.00 Baht and it will take a week to do!

    2 nights in the pub I will have to sacrifice to cover those expenses.
    Last edited by Loy Toy; 17-02-2009 at 09:53 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by NickA
    Doesn't it piss you off that you have to have things read or translated for you.
    Yes Nick at times it is a little frustrating but at the end of the day others have to take responsibility for those document contents anyway.

    We have predominately German and Japenese plant in out factories and I find myself having to translate operating instructions to the Thais.

    The bottom line is I have not found it neccessary at all!

    If in doubt I don't sign anything unless its written contents is firstly explained to me by someone I trust.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loy Toy
    I also agree bob but some people see it as a real disgrace that I am still illiterate and with regard to written Thai and after being here for so long.
    Just read the Pattaya news reports we can read on this board and don't worry, the press here is pure crap.

    It could be useful though to be able to read some official papers, but english translations sould be easy available.

  11. #11
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    dont need it at all.

    social only.

    learn half a dozen words, it goes a long way, but after that the effort doesnt equate to rewards.

  12. #12
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    Fuck that, look around you, see all them that is just barely getting by, no money in the pocket or bank,, look at em real good.
    They read and write and speak it fluently and how successful would you say they are,
    Now look at us farang, we don't speak it nor read it nor write it and we got money in the bank and food in our belly's, now who is the most successful??

    No 2 Thai can read something and come to the same conclusion, and they can not do that even by talking so the language both written and oral is useless in anything but making noise and confusion..

  13. #13
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    Business wise, I've never needed Thai fluency. It just helps with the staff that you can get along and have a giggle with them. In my personal case most of the clients I deal with are 'farangs'. So Thai is not really neccessary.

    I agree with KW and G2BH, socially it helps a lot.

    I don't feel the need to read Thai newspapers 'with quotations from politicians, deaths of local yaba dealers, car accidents etc...'.

    Although I think not reading Thai does limit me to a certain degree on getting good deals and latest promotions, although they do trickle down to me via Thai staff, friends and the gf.

    I'm also suprised occassionally that some of my Thai staff, well educated at top universities locally and overseas, do not actually know the Thai alphabet 100%. The translations from English to Thai I've tested amongst several staff/clients using the same piece of English is amazingly different.

  14. #14
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    ChiangMai noon's Avatar
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    you don't need to, no.
    you aint dead yet.

    fact you can't is a cause for personal embarrassment though, don't you think?

    being iliterate must sting a tad.

  15. #15
    ทำไมคุณแปลนี้
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    I've met several Farang people here that 'read, write and speak Thai' fluently. One in a very respectable and well established International school who is the official Thai teacher.

    From what I see, it hasn't done him, or the others any favours. If anything, they appear to be a little more jaded and resentful.

    Call me shallow, but living in a 'farang' bubble is quite nice. It's like going back home and being bombarded by media 24/7. I'd rather not thank you!

    It's nice to have selective brainwashing.
    Last edited by filch; 17-02-2009 at 10:07 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiangMai noon
    being iliterate must sting a tad.
    It used to when challenged on TD Noony!

    I really would love to be able to speak, read and write Mandarin though!

    The only language I truly believe one should learn as a second language affluently!

    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly
    learn half a dozen words, it goes a long way, but after that the effort doesnt equate to rewards.
    I can understand most of what is going on and can respond and be clearly understood. Enough for me!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by filch
    Call me shallow, but living in a 'farang' bubble is quite nice.
    Nail on the head mate!

    In fact after all these years here I still fee like I am on holidays!

    Would not change anything for anybody and any reason!

  18. #18
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    LT, if it suits you, then I dont see what the problem is. As you stated most of your counterparts prefer to conduct business in English, so your onto a winner their from the start. Why learn to read and write if you dont need to? unless its out of pure interest of course. As you have said, you can already speak the lanuage, which I would say is more important. Weve got a guy who lives near me, who cant read or write, but he`s a millionaire business man. being semi literate hasnt held him back, and he certainly isnt thought any less of for being that way either.
    Perhaps the nay sayers are trying to project something onto you, to make up for their own inadequacies.
    I aint superstitious, but I know when somethings wrong
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    Let the undercurrent drag me along.

  19. #19
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    If you have been in the country for 20 years your spoken Thai should be nearly fluent and you should be able to read basic Thai.

    20 years ???

    I have been here 4 years and can speak Thai and read very basic Thai. Reading and writing the gibberish seems impossible as the tones and sounds seem like they have to be memorized to ever understand them.

    But 20 years ????

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by astasinim
    Perhaps the nay sayers are trying to project something onto you, to make up for their own inadequacies.
    Maybe your right mate but I have no understanding why!

    I'm certainly no smarter than the next TD member but have the balls (after doing the homework) to have a go. Maybe being in the right place at the right time also has helped.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghandi
    But 20 years ????
    I have had a work permit for 20 years but spent a lot of time setting up factories overseas. In fact doing so at the moment in Malaysia and The Philippines.

    Again you question me why and really I don't think it is at all essential, not at all and is something I would only have attempted and if it was absolutely necessary!

    Fvck there are a lot more important, relevent and worthwhile challenges IMO.

  22. #22
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    ChiangMai noon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loy Toy
    Fvck there are a lot more important, relevent and worthwhile challenges IMO.
    i daesay there are, but reading and writing not up there somewhere??

  23. #23
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    As I already spoke three languages fluently before coming to Thailand I found learning any Thai a real chore.

    Luckily I ensconced myself in the Westerners' ghetto of Sukhumvit and didn't need to learn anything.

    I would pick up the odd impolite Issarn bar-girl phrases and repeat them loudly in situations where it would make other Thais feel uncomfortable. I still do.

    There's only so much conversation I want to have with these people anyway.
    Mortals you defy the Gods, I sentence you to travel among unknown stars, until you find the Kingdom of Hades, your bodies will stay as lifeless as stone.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiangMai noon
    i daesay there are, but reading and writing not up there somewhere??
    On my list of things to do here mate but way down at the bottom!

    Yes, a challenge of course but in the big picture will stay in the too hard basket for a while to come.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loy Toy
    Yes Nick at times it is a little frustrating but at the end of the day others have to take responsibility for those document contents anyway.
    I'm not talking about complex documents, I'm talking about signs in the street, supermarket, restaurant menus, leaflets, letters, instructions etc....



    Quote Originally Posted by blackgang
    no money in the pocket or bank
    What's it got to do with money?

    Quote Originally Posted by blackgang
    No 2 Thai can read something and come to the same conclusion
    Exactly, that's why it's useful to be able to read something yourself.

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