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How has my surroundings influenced the way I speak?

Having grown up in a household that speaks both English and Thai interchangeably, I soon picked up this peculiar quirk of speaking ‘Tinglish’ – which is the combination of speaking English and Thai ‘nai’ one sentence. Although this was one whim that I picked up at home, I soon used it more often whilst talking to my Thai friends at school. Although this trait has stuck with me for the majority of my life, I don’t use it unless I am talking casually with someone that I know that will understand what I am talking about. Sometimes instead of saying ‘like’ in a sentence, I use the Thai alternative, ‘ ‘baab’. Although the language switch is unintentional, it usually slips out of my mouth. This form of ‘code-switching’ has not only been part of my English speech, but also a part of my Thai speech. I find speaking in English more comfortable than Thai, so when I’m talking to anyone in Thai, it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to say some words or phrases in English. Since Thai is a very limited language in terms of words (and having an inadequate background in speaking Thai), I tend to switch around words and phrases just to match whatever I had in mind at that time. Another point that should be mentioned is that the sentence structure for English and Thai is very different, so whilst speaking Tinglish, I tend to switch around the grammar of the sentence, making ‘khrome srang words mee garn plien plaang tii phralard’ (lit. Structure words have change strange; the structures of the words sound strange). This also has some effect on my way of speech since some words are left out grammatically in Tinglish, so in some occasions, I have left out words while talking to my peers as well. Another evidence of how Tinglish has affected my surroundings and I is how my younger siblings speak in sentences. For example, when we are trying to describe something in English; we tend to put in the adjective first, then the noun. As for Thai, the structure is the opposite – so if we are trying to say ‘there is a big house’, ‘big house’ would become ‘baan yai’, or rather ‘house big’ if we are translating the phrase literally. Sometimes switching between two languages rapidly has changed the phrasing of the words, so having the reversing of words was common in speech in my household. There is also another English-Thai grammatical difference of where that if we are trying to address things as a plural; we usually add a word to indicate that there is a lot of that thing – unlike in English, there is a plural for each word. For example, if I were to say that there were a lot of birds in a park in Tinglish, I would say ‘there were birds lhaii lhaii tua”, making it literally ‘there were birds a lot’, therefore making the sentence grammatically incorrect by itself or rather making it sound like a lot of nonsense if it was put into a formal situation. Since I find speaking English more comfortable than speaking Thai, I’ve always used Tinglish to speak with people I know that are from Thai backgrounds that have had prior education in English to save myself from embarrassment from using incorrect tense of speaking in sentences. This mixture of languages is also quite common around my cousins, who went to public Thai schools, with little exposure to English apart from what they have picked up from movies, books, and video games. Since

English is a language that has gone commercial over the years, my uncles and aunts see me as an individual that would help my cousins hone their English skills, so I was pressured to talk to them in English. In fear of them not being to understand me, the usage of Tinglish has helped me a lot in helping them develop their skills in the language. In conclusion, I feel that my usage of Tinglish has made me think more about my own cultural identity. Being raised in a Thai household that values English more of as a commodity language, I feel that I still have to preserve some part of ‘being Thai’, so it is only natural to represent my own culture through how I speak. Apart from that, since I am living around a community that converses in this similar style as I do, I have no other choice but to combine both languages as well in order to fit in.