Pride of Thai language is reason enough 

I will try to go along with Bialystok’s “Fluency the difference” (Postbag, July 14) that fluency counts.  However, on the global stage where Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand’s first female Prime Minister-elect, is going to face the spotlight, English may take a parallel road.

Remember that, for the most part, she will be speaking in her mother tongue, Thai. 

You said that leaders in some countries do speak their own languages. 

Some of these leaders and diplomats are Oxford or Harvard graduates, but choose to speak their respective languages. 

As a seasoned interpreter who has been in a number of situations and arenas, I would say that there are at least a couple of reasons why this elite group of people has opted to do so.

First, these leaders are extremely proud of their heritage.  Cultural and linguistic pride is intrinsically coded into their hearts and souls, perhaps even their DNA for that matter. 

Secondly, diplomatically speaking, if there is something wrong in the formal or official dialogue, they can always put the blame on us, the interpreters – the “fall guys”.

So, let these elite leaders do their diplomatic duelling in their respective languages, and use interpreters as their human sparring swords. 

Give Ms. Yingluck some freedom to speak Thai.  In side-line conversations, she and other world leaders can chit-chat in their perfect English, and no one is going to blame them for doing just that.

Joe Sirijaraya

Post Bag, Bangkok Post, 16 July 2011

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