Compliments for ร and ล

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at 10:48 pm 3 comments

Sometimes when I meet somebody new and I receive a compliment for my Thai, it goes something like พูด ร-เรือ ล-ลิง ชัดเจน. I think that’s funny because it’s something that is really, really easy to do if you speak English already. As if I would confuse “L” with “R”!

Presumably, the speaker (usually a taxi driver) has his own difficulties with the two. Like me, if he doesn’t concentrate, he could slip back into his own hometown accent. This shows pretty clearly that we all have our own difficulties with new languages.

Entry filed under: General. Tags: .

New Category: Nailing Thai The Return of TLT: Request for Thai Dictionaries, Books, Etc.

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ThaiWeb - Learning Thai  |  Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    This difficulty to distinguish r and l is common to many Asian languages. For example it’s the same problem with Burmese.

  • 2. David  |  Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Perhaps there is more here than meets the tongue. The English (or at least American) “R” carries a very different sound than the Thai “ร” or the trilled “R” sound of some of the European languages. It is easy to mix up the “ร” and “ล” in Thai because the placement of the tongue in the mouth is so similar for the two of them. In American English, however, “R” is more vowel-like than consonant-like.

    However, that does not diminish the fact that you, Jason, most likely do pronounce the “ร” very clearly in Thai with the right tongue position and take great care not to pronounce it like “ล”.

  • 3. Jason  |  Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks for making that point, David. I really love the American ‘R.’ Upon reflection, I think you’re right: to a large degree it’s not being from the West, but that I personally enjoy getting minor details correct.


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