“Excuse, please. Where see go Liberty Bell?”
Working in Olde City Philadelphia, three blocks from the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Ben Franklin’s grave, you hear this kind of question a lot. Needless to say, not a day goes by (especially in the summer) that I don’t see at least a handful of people walking around with maps in hand, trying to figure out which historical landmark to see next. This area gets a lot of foreign tourists, and quite often I am asked things like “Excuse, please. Where see go Liberty Bell?”
I know exactly what they are trying to ask me, and I am always more than happy to show them where they need to go. But one thing I do not do is correct their English. It would almost seem rude, wouldn’t it? I don’t know these people, and all they want is some help with directions. So why then is it so important for us Thai language learners to learn the tones? I mean, in all likelihood we’re not going to be corrected by a complete stranger, are we? And even if we are, who cares if they understood what we were asking and helped us?