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Published: Friday July 23, 2010 MYT 3:51:00 PM

Tongue tied: Is Facebook hurting Thai language?

BANGKOK (AP): Facebook and Twitter are being blamed for the poor language skills of Thai students - and the Culture Ministry is suggesting a return to the bygone tradition of writing letters.

A national survey conducted by the ministry found that four out of 10 Thai youths think "proper Thai" should only be used at formal occasions. Roughly a third of Thai youths are not concerned about the misspellings, abbreviations and grammatical mistakes that are common in text messaging and social media conversations.

"We must preserve our national language. If nobody sees its importance, then we're doomed," Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombut said Thursday, while announcing the results of the survey.

"Writing on Facebook, Twitter and mobile phone messages distorts the language," he was quoted as saying by the Thai Post newspaper. He added that more should be done to encourage writing letters the old-fashioned way. "Nowadays kids do not write letters anymore. They forget the correct way to write."

The survey polled 6,500 youths over age 13 nationwide. It did not include a margin of error.

His comments came ahead of Thailand's national language day, which will be celebrated July 29.

"Sometimes I don't understand what Thai kids are saying in their mother tongue," the culture minister said. "But our duty as government is to conserve the good parts of the Thai language."

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