Thai English, Acceptable or Just Likable? A Study of Foreign Tourists’ Perception of Thai English

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Kukiat Phuengpitipornchai
Adisa Teo


Although Standard English is generally adopted as the ultimate goal in Thai EFL classrooms, it is undeniable that Thai English, a non-standard form of English in Thailand, is still commonly used in many contexts in the country, including tourism. Accordingly, Thai English has been questioned about how it reflects the speakers’ hierarchy status and individual personal attributes. Therefore, this present study aimed to investigate foreign tourists’ perceptions towards Thai English in the two aspects of an individual speaker’s social status personality traits. Mixed-method research was employed to survey and interview one hundred international tourists in Bangkok from four regions: East Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America. The results showed that the overall personality traits received more positive feedback than social status. Interestingly, the frequency of linguistic variation occurrence in speech samples played a tremendous role in the participants’ perception towards the social status of the speaker including education, proficiency, and acceptability as it aroused their negative feedback. In conclusion, this study provides the missing puzzle pieces in the form of the viewpoints of non-Thais to Thai English raising the awareness of the Thai English features that Thais should be concerned with when using English to communicate internationally for their specific needs and purposes.


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Phuengpitipornchai, K., & Teo, A. (2021). Thai English, Acceptable or Just Likable? A Study of Foreign Tourists’ Perception of Thai English. Journal of Studies in the English Language, 16(1), 86-118. Retrieved from
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