Sounding Less 'Foreign' saying 'Sawat dee' สวัสดีครับ / ค่ะ

Sounding Less 'Foreign' saying 'Sawat dee' สวัสดีครับ / ค่ะ

On the topic of Pitch Paradigms from mother tongues interfering with tones and prosody / natural sounding rhythms when speaking Thai, I've just put this visual representation together of how many learners of Thai - or just visitors to Thailand pronounce สวัสดี sawat dee (khrap /kha) -

In English when greeting someone in a friendly manner, there's a tendency to say:

'Hiiiiii, How are Youuuuuu?'

It's as though the muscles subconsciously lock into this 'friendly greeting' pattern regardless of the language.  This superimposed on Thai has a big effect on the natural sound of the Thai delivery and while sure, people will understand what you're saying, it will sound very 'foreign'.

In fact, I often hear Thais especially around the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok who deal with tourists to 'take the piss' saying sawatdee in a 'Farang' way to unwitting tourists - akin to seeing an Asian and saying 'Hurrroooo'.

Is it necessary to pronounce it with the correct tones / rhythm? Up to you - but if you're looking to develop any fluency in the language, it's a good thing to be aware of and work at eliminating.



By signing up for the Siskin mailing list you will receive exclusive finance and marketing resources, be the first to hear about events, workshops, and have access to subscriber only content!

Written by

Stuart Jay Raj