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Old 07-16-2012, 10:05 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightBazaar View Post
Thanks. Yes, that's correct, I've never been to Malaysia. So then English is better, or worse, in Malaysia throughout most of the country than it is in Thailand?

As for Thailand, most of the English speakers seem to tend to be where the foreigners are. That makes sense considering tourism, etc., is a major source of income for the nation, and Engish is still considered the international language for business, airlines, etc. A lot of young people still choose to go for Masters degrees, Fellowships, etc., in countries where English is the primary language. English is still taught in Thai schools as a second language, even out in the boonies, but kids seldom have time or opportunity to practice it when school is out, not to mention that most of the teachers are themselves Thai. There are plenty of areas around the the outskirts of the greater BKK area where English is seldom heard. Admittedly, the accent and pronunciation can be difficult to understand, if not humorous, at times, but I still come across plenty of Thais who do well enough to understand. Of course, for those who Thais who don't speak English, I have no major problem with that.
English is definitely more prevalent in Malaysia than Thailand throughout the country. The majority of the Thais can't even speak English, while the majority of Malaysians can at least speak basic English. Malays in some of the rural kampongs and the orang asli are less likely to, as are old Chinese and Indians.

Even in Bangkok and Phuket it seemed only hotel staff spoke English passably. Actually even many of them didn't. The average Thai on the street in Bangkok will probably not know more than a few words in English.

As Tiger Beer says, the Malay language has incorporated English words but has adopted their own spelling. 'Taxi' is spelled 'teksi', 'restaurant' is 'restoran' for example.
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Old 07-16-2012, 11:19 PM
 
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I suspect that part of the reason has to do with the prominence of Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia as compared to places like Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

As the fight against terrorism still ensues, places with a relatively large Muslim population like Malaysia and Indonesia are considered possible hotspots for terrorist activities which Americans should avoid at all costs. After all just a few years back, there was an explosion in Bali killing several tourists.

On the other hand, Singapore is a multicultural country with a secular stand and Thailand a predominantly Buddhist nation.

Not to mention also that Singapore and Thailand probably have done a better job at marketing their tourism sector to the outside world than Indonesia and Malaysia; Singapore has not only one of the lowest consumption taxes in the world but now boasts pretty strong economic growth and just recently establish high profile tourist sites like Marina Bay Sands and Thailand still is known for offering value for money for those seeking an exotic destination and nightlife.
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Old 07-16-2012, 11:41 PM
 
5,091 posts, read 8,068,874 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
English is definitely more prevalent in Malaysia than Thailand throughout the country. The majority of the Thais can't even speak English, while the majority of Malaysians can at least speak basic English. Malays in some of the rural kampongs and the orang asli are less likely to, as are old Chinese and Indians.

Even in Bangkok and Phuket it seemed only hotel staff spoke English passably. Actually even many of them didn't. The average Thai on the street in Bangkok will probably not know more than a few words in English.

As Tiger Beer says, the Malay language has incorporated English words but has adopted their own spelling. 'Taxi' is spelled 'teksi', 'restaurant' is 'restoran' for example.
Same thing is true in Thailand. Thais have also incorporated a number of English words into everyday useage as well. Common words are 'Taxi' is 'tak-see', 'beer' is 'bee-uh'. When people answer the phone, they say 'hallo'. 'Mall' is usually 'maw' (seems hard to add the "L"). 'Chok-o-let'. 'coffae', 'so-fah' (for sofa/couch) I could go on. Most street and road signs are written in both Thai and English. Some of the English transliterations can be pretty strange though. I've seen Chatuchak spelled out in English about 4 different ways. LOL!

English is still pretty common in places like BKK and tourist spots than it is in the rural areas, although I'm not saying everywhere or by everyone. Sure, there are plenty of people who don't really don't speak English. But BKK is such a large city that there are certainly loads of areas, around the greater metropolitan area, where you'll seldom encounter English. The thing about BKK and even areas like Phuket, a lot of people from the NE head there in search of jobs, the thinking that it's easier to find and pays better. People are in and out when they realize that it costs more to live in cities like BKK. Part of that may be what you've encountered among those who either speak English poorly or not at all. If they work in areas where English is most common, obviously they need to have some basic English skills, even though it may be hard to easily understand many of them. Still, Thai is their native language, so it's only reasonable they're going to speak Thai in most situations. Most of the Thais who speak English tend to be middle to upper class. I worked exclusively with Thai students for about 5 or so years at the English Language Institute at Oregon State University. Most were from upper-middle class families. They all had a pretty good start when they came to OSU. First time I went to Thailand was to speak to an English Language class at Chulalongkorn University.

The kids in rural areas of Thailand are taught English, but as I said, they don't have much opportunity to practice it, so it often goes in one ear and out the other, and the teachers are Thai, which doesn't help. Most of the people who have a really hard time with English in cities like BKK, etc., tend to be from the rural areas. especially the NE. I seldom have a problem understanding Thais who speak English, even though they often mangle it. Maybe I'm just more use to it.

Interesting about Malaysia. I had no idea how they speak there, which is why I asked. So then there are Malays in some of the rural areas where English isn't common, if at all. That doesn't seem a whole lot different from Thailand in that regard. But again, I've never been there.
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Old 07-16-2012, 11:53 PM
 
Location: Macao
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightBazaar View Post
Same thing is true in Thailand. Thais have also incorporated a number of English words into everyday useage as well. Common words are 'Taxi' is 'tak-see', 'beer' is 'bee-uh'. When people answer the phone, they say 'hallo'. 'Mall' is usually 'maw' (seems hard to add the "L"). 'Chok-o-let'. 'coffae', 'so-fah' (for sofa/couch) I could go on. Most street and road signs are written in both Thai and English. Some of the English transliterations can be pretty strange though. I've seen Chatuchak spelled out in English about 4 different ways. LOL!

English is still pretty common in places like BKK and tourist spots than it is in the rural areas, although I'm not saying everywhere or by everyone. Sure, there are plenty of people who don't really don't speak English. But BKK is such a large city that there are certainly loads of areas, around the greater metropolitan area, where you'll seldom encounter English. The thing about BKK and even areas like Phuket, a lot of people from the NE head there in search of jobs, the thinking that it's easier to find and pays better. People are in and out when they realize that it costs more to live in cities like BKK. Part of that may be what you've encountered among those who either speak English poorly or not at all. If they work in areas where English is most common, obviously they need to have some basic English skills, even though it may be hard to easily understand many of them. Still, Thai is their native language, so it's only reasonable they're going to speak Thai in most situations. Most of the Thais who speak English tend to be middle to upper class. I worked exclusively with Thai students for about 5 or so years at the English Language Institute at Oregon State University. Most were from upper-middle class families. They all had a pretty good start when they came to OSU. First time I went to Thailand was to speak to an English Language class at Chulalongkorn University.

The kids in rural areas of Thailand are taught English, but as I said, they don't have much opportunity to practice it, so it often goes in one ear and out the other, and the teachers are Thai, which doesn't help. Most of the people who have a really hard time with English in cities like BKK, etc., tend to be from the rural areas. especially the NE. I seldom have a problem understanding Thais who speak English, even though they often mangle it. Maybe I'm just more use to it.

Interesting about Malaysia. I had no idea how they speak there, which is why I asked. So then there are Malays in some of the rural areas where English isn't common, if at all. That doesn't seem a whole lot different from Thailand in that regard. But again, I've never been there.
Once you get a chance to visit Malaysia, it'll be instantly clear.

I suppose it depends on what your personal references are...but it's kind of like the Dutch with English versus Chinese with English. Of course you can walk around Beijing and find English-speakers to help you out....but it's absolutely nothing like being in Amsterdam where you forget that English isn't their first language.

Definitely get down to Malaysia...I agree that you can find English everywhere in the tourist areas of Thailand, but once you see the level it's at in Malaysia, you'll realize how little English it really is in Thailand, comparitively.
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:44 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,384,878 times
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That's it, I go back to Malaysia and Singapore a lot more than Thailand - only been there once, so I'm used to English not being an issue. Occasionally people will speak to me in Malay or Chinese and expect me to understand, but once they found out I can't speak those languages they speak to me in English fine. In Thailand it can be frustrating trying to say something really basic to hotel staff, and their accent too. English in Thailand is no more prevalent than anywhere else in SE Asia. In Malaysia it's one of the main languages spoken, largely due to the British settlement. Listen to English interviews with the Thai Prime Minister, I was actually a bit surprised at her lack of command of the English language. I mean she can speak it but not fluently.
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Old 07-17-2012, 09:12 AM
 
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Thanks Trimac and Tiger Beer! It's always interesting and refreshing to get someone else's point of view about other places, especially places I've never been to. Now that I think about it, isn't Malaysia known for haing quite a few colonial-style historical structures? That Malaysia was once a colony of the British Crown, I'm wondering if the European colonial occupational difference might a factor as to why English is more common in Malaysia.

As for difficulty with Thainglish, I've never found it to be all that difficult to understand. Admittedly, as I mentioned, it can be often mangled. It depends on the skill of the speaker. But I also recognize that a good reason why it's not so difficult for me ismost likely because I also understand the Thai language pretty well. Still, the massive number of people visiting Thailand each year is a reasonably fair view that foreigners are quite able to get by without knowing the Thai language because of the prevalance of English in the country, the exception being areas away from where most foreigners are frequently found. That's not counting the number of expats living there. Tourism brings in about 10 million people each year, which is a pretty hefty number. Chinese are taking a huge lead with well over 1 million so far this year. I'm not overly surprised considering the population in Thailand includes a large number of Thais who are ethnic Chinese. One would think that the Chinese language would be more noticable than English, but apart from some of the shops and stores, such as those in the Chinese district (Yaowarat), Thai and English are the most common written languages to be found.

Thanls guys! Much appreciated!
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Listen to English interviews with the Thai Prime Minister, I was actually a bit surprised at her lack of command of the English language. I mean she can speak it but not fluently.
Seriously? I'm not suggesting she speaks English with crystal clear perfect. There's no question her accent clearly stands out, but that's certainly understandable. She seems to do well enough to be easily understood. I guess I don't know exactly what you mean by "her lack of command of the English language" or fluency No one is going to mistake her as someone who's native language is English, but she sounds like she does quite well for someone who's native language isn't English. Here's a video interview with her. Ths is from the Bangkok Post (an English language newspaper), May 2011. Take a brief listen to her.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to get down to Malaysia, but if it's at all possible, I think I'd do it just to listen to the locals speaking English just to hear the difference. I'd also like to just visit KL though.

Yingluck



Okay, here's a vid showing communication in Malaysia. The volume and quality sucks, but it's clear enough to hear the use of English. You might need to crank up the volume. Would you regard this as a typical represnetation of English spoken in Malaysia? Your comments will be appreciated. My son-in-law (a Thai) speaks as well as the the vid, as do a number of other Thais I know who also speak English. Not all Thais are as clear, and some don't speak it at all, but I suppose a lot of it has to do with personal exposure of who you know and where you go.



Malaysian English - YouTube
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:38 AM
 
Location: Filipinas
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^Singaporean have the same accent as them. they keep on using "la" at the end of the sentence.
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Old 07-17-2012, 11:29 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,384,878 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightBazaar View Post
Thanks Trimac and Tiger Beer! It's always interesting and refreshing to get someone else's point of view about other places, especially places I've never been to. Now that I think about it, isn't Malaysia known for haing quite a few colonial-style historical structures? That Malaysia was once a colony of the British Crown, I'm wondering if the European colonial occupational difference might a factor as to why English is more common in Malaysia.

As for difficulty with Thainglish, I've never found it to be all that difficult to understand. Admittedly, as I mentioned, it can be often mangled. It depends on the skill of the speaker. But I also recognize that a good reason why it's not so difficult for me ismost likely because I also understand the Thai language pretty well. Still, the massive number of people visiting Thailand each year is a reasonably fair view that foreigners are quite able to get by without knowing the Thai language because of the prevalance of English in the country, the exception being areas away from where most foreigners are frequently found. That's not counting the number of expats living there. Tourism brings in about 10 million people each year, which is a pretty hefty number. Chinese are taking a huge lead with well over 1 million so far this year. I'm not overly surprised considering the population in Thailand includes a large number of Thais who are ethnic Chinese. One would think that the Chinese language would be more noticable than English, but apart from some of the shops and stores, such as those in the Chinese district (Yaowarat), Thai and English are the most common written languages to be found.

Thanls guys! Much appreciated!
Yes the British influence in Malaya was strong. It's not simply that it was a colony, I think Malaya was an important strategic trading base for the British, so British culture entrenched itself in the 'Straits Settlements' of George Town in Penang, Malacca (Melaka) and Singapore.

However, it seems that education of the local populace in English has been only widespread in the past 60-70 years or so. Many Malaysians over about 70 or so can't really speak English, so I don't think it's always been like this. As education improved, so did English literacy. But there was never a nationwide push to teach English like in Singapore, where English is near universal for those under 40.

Most Thais of Chinese ancestry can only speak Thai. Most don't even identify as being Chinese in any way. The current PM is of part Chinese ancestry (in a way the ethnic Thai came from China anyway) but I doubt she thinks of it as even important. Of course she's really just Thai. I actually couldn't tell I was in Chinatown when I went to it, like in other parts of the world, due to the lack of Chinese signs, shops.etc. The Chinese in Thai integrated more than any other Asian country, and it's estimated that 30-40% of Thais have some Chinese ancestry.
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Old 07-17-2012, 11:32 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,384,878 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightBazaar View Post
Seriously? I'm not suggesting she speaks English with crystal clear perfect. There's no question her accent clearly stands out, but that's certainly understandable. She seems to do well enough to be easily understood. I guess I don't know exactly what you mean by "her lack of command of the English language" or fluency No one is going to mistake her as someone who's native language is English, but she sounds like she does quite well for someone who's native language isn't English. Here's a video interview with her. Ths is from the Bangkok Post (an English language newspaper), May 2011. Take a brief listen to her.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to get down to Malaysia, but if it's at all possible, I think I'd do it just to listen to the locals speaking English just to hear the difference. I'd also like to just visit KL though.

Yingluck



Okay, here's a vid showing communication in Malaysia. The volume and quality sucks, but it's clear enough to hear the use of English. You might need to crank up the volume. Would you regard this as a typical represnetation of English spoken in Malaysia? Your comments will be appreciated. My son-in-law (a Thai) speaks as well as the the vid, as do a number of other Thais I know who also speak English. Not all Thais are as clear, and some don't speak it at all, but I suppose a lot of it has to do with personal exposure of who you know and where you go.



Malaysian English - YouTube
Yeah she's not TOO bad, but definitely not on the level of the average Malaysian. You may know a lot of Thai people who can speak English well, but they probably represent a few percent of the population. The vast majority of Thais I came into contact with knew very basic English.

I would say yes, that's typical for Malaysia. It depends on things like where they live, education level, ethnicity. Malays and older Chinese, especially poorer ones, often speak fairly basic English, but if you're talking Middle Class - which is pretty big in Malaysia, much moreso than Thailand (although Malaysia is not quite developed) most of them can speak at at least as fluently as the average Dutch person, if you can get used to the accent.
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