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Tinglish (or Thaiglish, Thenglish, Thailish, Thainglish, etc.) refers to any form of English mixed with or heavily influenced by Thai. It is typically produced by native Thai speakers due to language interference from the first language. Differences from standard native English occur in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.
The earliest term is Thailish, dating to 1970, then (in chronological order): Thainglish (1973), Thaiglish (1992), Tinglish (1994), Thinglish (1976), Thenglish (2003), and Tenglish (2012).
Characteristics and examples
- omission of pronouns
- zero copula
- use of present tense + already, in contrast to past tense of Standard English
- non-standard use or omissions of articles, declension, prepositions, and conjugation.
- addition of Thai final particles, e.g., I don’t know na
- any and every are used interchangeably
- different use of conditional constructions
- pronunciation of silent letters in a word
- omission of the consonant at the end of words ending in a diphthong and a consonant, for instance Mickey Mouse pronounced “Mickey Mao”, white wine pronounced “why why”, and news pronounced “new”.
- inserting vowel sounds into consonant clusters, for instance slow pronounced “sah-low”
- no use of double negatives
- /ɹ/ pronounced as /l/
- ⟨th⟩ pronounced as /t/
- using "N" to replace an "L" sound at the end of the word, for instance "school" pronounced "sah-koon" or "football" pronounced "futbon"
- moving "S" on singular verbs to the subject, for instance "He's talk too much" instead of "He talks too much"
- omission of prepositions, for instance "I wait you" instead of "I'll wait for you" or "I listen him" for "I listened to him".
- "very" and "very much" are used interchangeably, for instance "I very love my daughter" and "She beautiful very much".
Examples of words and phrases
Examples (direct translation) include:
|Same same||Similar, as usual|
|He same you||He is/looks like you|
|Open/close the light||Turn on/off the light|
|No have …||There is no ..., I do not have a …|
|I send you airport||I will take you to the airport|
|I have ever been to London||I have been to London|
|I'm interesting in football||I am interested in football|
|I very like it||I really like it, I like it very much|
|I used to go Phuket||I have been to Phuket before|
|Take a bath||Take a shower|
|She black||She's dark skinned/tanned|
|Are you spicy?||Does your food taste spicy?|
|Are you boring?||Do you feel bored?|
|I play internet/phone||I'm using the internet/my phone|
|Check bill||Can I have the bill, please?|
- Non-rhotic, e.g., more -> maw ([mɔː]), gear -> gia ([kia]), and car -> kah ([kʰaː]).
- all syllables are stressed with the same intensity
- omits consonant clusters. "Mixed" is pronounced "mik".
- final consonants are often omitted or converted according to the rules of Thai pronunciation: l and r become n; p; b and f become an occlusive p; t, th, d, s, st, sh, ch and j become an occlusive t.
- Perversely, given the language constraints for d and l among the rules above, l can become r and d can become sh, for instance blood can become brush.
- If there is more than one consonant at the end of a syllable, only the first is pronounced, the others are omitted. "W" and "Y" sounds count as consonants, too. So, "count down" becomes "cow dow", "size" becomes "sigh"
- "sh" and "ch" sounds can be indistinguishable as the Thai language does not have the "sh" sound, e.g., ship/chip, sheep/cheap
- "v" sound is almost always replaced by "w" sound, e.g. "TV" is pronounced "tee-wee" and "video" is pronounced "wee-dee-oh".
- "g" and "z" sounds are usually devoiced, e.g., dog -> dock ([ˈdɔk]), zoo -> sue ([ˈsuː])
- "th" sound is often replaced by "t" or "d" sound. Particularly, the voiceless "th" (/θ/) is replaced by [t] or [tʰ], while the voiced "th" (/ð/) is replaced by [d], e.g. thin -> tin ([ˈtin]) or [ˈtʰin]), through -> true ([ˈtʰɹuː]), thank you -> tang kyou ([tɛŋ kiw]) or ([tʰɛŋ kiw]), and then -> den ([ˈden]).
- ambiguity between the short "e" (/ɛ/), as in "bled", and a long "a" (/eɪ/), as in "blade" because both are pronounced as [e(ː)].
- "e (vowel) " so cherry is pronounced chuhr-lee, error is pronounced err-rer
In Thai, certain consonants cannot occur as a consonant cluster. Such illicit clusters include those with sibilant sounds followed by obstruent sounds. In order to avoid such illicit forms, a short "a" (ah; [ə]) sound is added between these consonants:
- start - sahtat (/səˈtaːt/)
- sleep - sahleep (/səˈliːp/)
- speak - sahpeak (/səˈpiːk/)
- snore - sahnore (/səˈnɔː/)
- swim - sahwim (/səˈwim/)
- school - sahkoon (/səˈkʰuːn/)
- album - alabum (/ələˈbam/)
'R' or 'l' after another consonant may be omitted completely.
- Lambert, James. 2018. A multitude of ‘lishes’: The nomenclature of hybridity. English World-wide, 39(1): 1-33. DOI: 10.1075/eww.38.3.04lam
- Lambert, James. 2018. A multitude of ‘lishes’: The nomenclature of hybridity. English World-wide, 39(1): 31-32. DOI: 10.1075/eww.38.3.04lam
- Investigating Thai Loan Phonology, Sound Systems of English, LG.236, Lecture 8, Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, Thammasat University, 8 Sep 2008.