Some time ago, I had a discussion with one of my students (Mr. H, as usual) on the similarity and the difference between Thai and Japanese. From my point of view, both are similar in such a way that we can speak English (because we learn it in school). But we are not comfortable speaking it as we fear a lot of things. Wrong pronunciation. Wrong grammar. Wrong accent, or rather, the accent that native English speaker might not understand. One thing I have noticed is that, unless the person (Thai or Japanese) has been exposed to western culture at high level, I feel that it is quite a task to get connected (or get close) with the person using English language. They seem to understand the meaning grammatically, but not so much to the deeper sense.
What I am trying to say here is that the best way to connect to Thai (or Japanese – correct me if I am wrong) is to master their language.
On the other aspect, Japanese wins anyone else hands down when it comes to service mind. They seem to be helpful, even though you are not speaking their language. Once my friend and I got lost in Tokyo, 9 out of 10 were willing to help us with the direction with their limited English. The other one went extra mile: she couldn’t speak English but she approached her own countryman to help us with the direction. I couldn’t thank them enough.
Mr. H thinks otherwise. He feels that although some Thai people might not be at ease when speaking English – but hey we are known as the Land of Smile – สยามเมืองยิ้ม//Siam meuang yím. Thai people seem to be more friendly, more approachable, and more welcoming than Japanese. He might have a fair point: in these 2 countries he is a foreigner, whereas I am a foreigner in 1 country and another one is my own country.
The equivalent Thai word for ‘friendly’ does not consist of any ‘friend’ or ‘เพื่อน’. It is this:
pen kan eng
And because this word signifies ‘being friendly’ – so now you are at the friend’s level: เป็นกันเอง also means casual or informal. Of course, you would not use formal words to speak with your friends.
khon Thai pen kan eng
Thai people are friendly/warm/welcoming.
Do you think so? 🙂