This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
Does the Thai accent sound sexy to you?…
Thailand gets more than its share of bad news – depressing – so when the announcement of the Thai language being voted SEXY came bouncing down WLTs twitter timeline, I started smiling.
CNN Travel: World’s 12 sexiest accents.
A foreign language can be the best aphrodisiac, so we traveled the world in search of the 12 hottest accents.
Thailand is way down in 11th place, but with the hundreds of languages available to choose from, just making it on the list says something.
With five tones comprising their native speech, the traffickers of this often fragile accent turn any language into a song of seduction. Thai is largely monosyllabic, so multi-beat foreign words get extra emphases right up until the last letter, which is often left off, leaving the listener wanting more. (Or at least asking “Huh?” lustfully.)
Hmmm… I don’t know what to think of CNNs injection of “traffickers” in the description, nor the “sounds like: R-rated karaoke” rating. Do you?
But what I do agree with 100% is Italian coming in first, beating the French. And as I’m learning both Italian and Thai (albiet slowly), I’m chuffed!
Anyway, if you too want to vote, here’s your chance: Which is your favorite accent? Vote here on our Facebook poll.
Falling in love with Thai tones…
The first time I heard spoken Thai was in a Thai restaurant in Brunei Darussalam. No, it’s not located amongst the Arab countries. Brunei is on the island of Borneo, just a short hop from Thailand.
As is typical in Thai restaurants, the TV was blaring in the background. And I hated it.
If you’ve ever watched Thai soaps then you’ll know all about all the annoying screaming, screeching, and backstabbing going on. It’s cringe inducing.
From my weekly Thai TV experiences alone, I unfairly judged the Thai language too painful to listen to. And in no way did I want to learn Thai or even live in Thailand.
Suffering from island fever, within months I was flying to Bangkok via Thai Airways. What a difference! The Thai stewardesses were elegant and charming. And if there were any arguments in the galley, I was unaware.
Once in Thailand I even enjoyed being taken advantage of by a soft spoken off-duty (cough cough) cop who deftly stuck me in a Tuk Tuk due to the ENTIRE left side of Bangkok being closed… and away I went to a jewelry store.
Seven, or is it (eight years) after living in Thailand, my opinion of the Thai language has settled into what I believe resembles a truth of some sorts. And one thing I can tell you with absolute confidence is that screaming and screeching are rare. Where do the soaps got their awful role models anyway?
The Thai language can be soft and lilting, sweet, singsong even. It ranges from the playful not so quiet banter of the street vendors, to the gentle politeness of a junior needing a favour.
The Thai world I live in rarely visits the scenario shown in the mushy Thai Airways ads (there are similar moments though) but neither is it inundated with the raunchy jokes of Thai street life. But whatever it is, I’m loving it. แล้วคุณล่ะคะ?
18 thoughts on “Thai Language Amongst World’s Sexiest Accents”
Sawasdeekrub, I come across your nice website with pleasure. I’m a Thai from Bangkok. I’m glad to learn that Thai has been ranked no. 11 as the sexiest English accent.
For Thai language as monosyllabic or isolating language yes mainly it is. Anyway we borrowed many words from Pali and Sansakrit which are not monosyllabic.
Biff, “the same group of cast members who will act out a story over about three months” … that makes sense. I started watching a soap, then went away somewhere, came back, and it was off the air. Finish. I’m too impatient to keep sampling new Thai soaps to find one as interesting (and without so much screaming).
This one did have the cars, the huge houses, clothes, and the maid (the maid had the starring roll).
Thai soaps are special. They will, by and large, keep the same group of cast members who will act out a story over about three months. The roles are clearly defined, you know who the ‘bad people’ are.
Once it’s finished, they star all over again with a different story. Well, I’m told they’re different! They seem the same to me! 🙂
I don’t think they attempt what soaps in the UK are supposed to do, that is reflect ‘ordinary’ people’s lives. Rather, they tend to focus on the trials and tribulations of the wealthy and powerful.
Usually their internal family issues, as opposed to any kind of insight into corruption or politics (I don’t think the Thai broadcast media is ready for too much satirical or dramatic comment on that kind of thing!).
There’s always an absolutely enormous mansion involved, fancy cars and clothes etc. balanced out by the fact that the people involved usually have incredibly poor relationships. I guess that’s meant to make ‘ordinary’ people feel better about their cash-poor (by comparison)existence!
Some are set in the past and have the older ‘master/servant’ relationships and some older language (which I find quite interesting for a while).
All in all, something that is quite different from what I’m used to seeing on TV.
Biff, one summer I watched western soaps so I sort of understand the attraction. I quit because they are time consuming (life stops when the soaps are on). But I did notice that I could watch them one time a year and the storyline hadn’t progressed very far. I don’t know if it’s the same in Thai soaps though.
“It would, somehow, be my fault!” 🙂
If Thai soaps were taken off the air, there are a number of things that I am sure would happen;
My wife would enter a period of deep mourning.
My step-daughters would have to find something else to talk about at school (school work is an unlikely replacement!).
I would read fewer books whilst in my house in Thailand in the evenings.
It would, somehow, be my fault!
Keith, that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy learning Thai – Thais are generous 🙂
Martyn, after my favourite Thai soap (about the gal with the mole) went off the air I was done. For Thai, I like the soft version, not the shrill. I’ve taken to watching Thai movies instead.
Thai TV soaps…. they are that bad they’re almost good and if they were taken off TV I’m sure most of us would miss them. When I’m in Thailand (up country) I tend to have Thai TV soaps in my face most evenings but I do find because of their ‘same same’ plots the language is mush easier to follow.
Ah. My Thai friends wince only a little. 🙂
Keith, I’d only worry if it’s a Thai friend covering their ears 🙂
A friend of mine never fails to cover her ears whenever I try to say anything in Thai. It’s probably due to my pronunciation though. 🙂
Yes, I agree, the first time I heard a Thai actress interviewed in a local television here in our country, I just love her intonation. Thai language is one language in Asia which is very subtle to hear.
“roll model”… gawd… you caught me on that one – which proves that my English is gawd awful as well.
I hope you mean a ‘role model’ rather than a ‘roll model’, which sounds a bit unsavoury….
I wish my Thai was good enough to pick up the quick asides which form the basis of the live banter I hear — humour is basically a social phenomenon; ‘get it’ and you’re in the crowd, miss it, and you’re not.
โอ๊ย น่าสงสารมาก ฮือฮือ … 🙂
Well, I’d hafta weigh in on the fact that Thai is pretty much a mono-syllabic language. I even think Rikker touched on this in that talk he gave. In the next breath he went on to say that being primarily a mono-syllabic language isn’t the same as saying it’s spoken in a monotone…
I mean there’re possibly thousands of single syllable stand alone words in Thai. Plus most compound words in this language are just single syllable ones strung together.
There are “real” multi-syllable words in Thai although a lot of them are of Pali/Sanskrit origin. Even those often times have a single syllable root or base word which can stand alone. Of course there are a ton of multi-syllable “loan words” the Thais have conveniently “borrowed” into their language from English, often to replace a “clunky” Thai word combination.
A about Thai being a “sexy language”; I never thought it sounded particularly sexy to me (especially “my version of it”), but that’s just my take on it.
As for the “version of engrish” spoken by these people; IMHO you’d be hard pressed to find a more “un-sexy” version of it out there in the world.
Still interesting topic none the less…
Ta Lani 🙂 Humour is absolutely sexy. And I was just thinking today that when a language is sexy to us, we often have a person in mind. The Thai musician Cham Champram is sexy (to me). The Scottish brogue, sigh… isn’t Sean Connery a classic?
Well done Cat. What a fun post. Although I have to disagree with the author’s list. Irish? Ewwwwww.
If sexy is “HUH?” then okay, I guess I get it. I mean, who can understand when the Irish talk? 5555
Why wasn’t Petchtai Wongkamlao listed under Thai? 😛 Humor is sexy, chai mai?
Kaewmala, I love saying แล้วคุณล่ะคะ. It’s one of those Thai phrases that, coupled with eyebrow waggling, lends well to flirting (or teasing, depending if the recipient is guy or gal 😉
You know, I totally missed the monosyllabic comment. Shame on me. Hugh has a post on just that subject: Why Thai is Not a Monosyllabic Language
The Thai cop is sexy, yes? I like to think the photo leaves one wondering just what his lips will get up to next.
But the reality is, becoming impatient with my clicking, he waved me on (just like he was doing to the cars turning into the parking lot). Oh well.
Nice post, Cat! You gave your impression of the Thai language over time very well. I love especially your last sentence: แล้วคุณล่ะคะ? Quite a seductive ending which does justice to Thai’s 11th place. 😉
Besides the traffickers bit in the CNN Travel quote, I stumbled on the monosyllabic comment. OLD Thai was monosyllabic but to say “Thai is largely monosyllabic” is not quite accurate. I mean, “You handsum man, you good heart, I like you maak maak” kind of speech is not representative of Thai accent, no? … Or is it? 🙂
Oh, last but not least, your Thai cop pic for the post is super-sexy. 😉 Fits well with the ‘monosyllabic’ Thai sexiness. LOL.