Why foreigners can’t speak Thai

For 12 years now I have been learning Thai from my maid, Pi Nong, who has been employed in our building for decades. It’s a much misunderstood relationship. Here the maid is an obligatory fixture, integrated into daily life for foreigners and Thais over the age of 45 and over a fairly modest income level. For foreigners the maid is a linguistic go-between, a bridge between two worlds, a portal into a new language. While she is making me dinner she gaily informs me that farangs cannot eat Thai food even though she is making it for me now and that, even more mysteriously, they cannot speak Thai – even