Thailand

Learn something about the culture by memorizing some common expressions and words

1. mai bpen raimai mee bpunhaa

The first phrase roughly translates to “it doesn’t matter”, the second to “no problem.” Together, they typify the Thai approach to life: don’t get troubled by small obstacles, don’t worry, take it easy. If a Westerner protests, he is swiftly reprimanded with calm down = jai yen.

2. sabai

This word is usually translated as “happy”, but its use is often closer to “comfortable”, “relaxed”, or “well.” To Thais, happiness is not a state opposite that of sorrow. Rather, it is more akin to tranquility. Sitting by the seaside with the wind blowing your hair is sabai. Winning the lottery is not. This difference is underscored by the fact that mai sabai, or “not sabai“, does not mean “sad”. It means “sick”, “ill”, and can even be used as a euphemism for “hungover”.

Suffix the word dee, or “good”, to sabai, and you get the standard Thai greeting: sabai dee mai?, or “Are you well?”

3. ruk

The Thai people are usually described as sentimental, encountering life emotionally rather than intellectually. This is not meant to disparage them, and in any case they often disparage Westerners for being too cerebral, too cold. The linguistic centerpiece of this worldview is ruk, or “love”. Just about every Thai pop song will be propped up by ruks, often in the form of pom ruk ter, or “I love you” (ter is the informal “you”, like “tu” in French).

Ruk is also the root of the common word naruk. The prefix na is the equivalent of the English suffix “able” – thus naruk means “lovable”, “adorable”, or “cute.”

Ruk also gives us suttiruk, a term of endearment roughly meaning “sweetheart”. (N.B. Not to use indiscriminately, especially as part of the phrase suttiruk ja, which means something along the treacly lines of “sweetie pie”)

4. jai

Another word to express Thai sentimentalism – the close etymological connection between Thai words meaning “heart” and “mind”. Jai, “mind”, spawns the word hua jai, “heart”.

The word jai forms a number of compounds that describe human emotions.  Some of the most common are:

jai rorn — hot-tempered (hot mind)
jai yen — calm (cold mind)
jai lai — cruel (bad mind)
jai dee — kind (good mind)
kao jai — to understand (enter mind)
korp jai — thank you (edge mind)

5. gin

Thais take eating very seriously, no doubt in part because of the strong Chinese influence on their culture.

Gin can mean “eat”, but it is more akin to the word “ingest”: one can gin nahm (“drink water”), gin kao(“eat rice”), or gin ya (“take medicine”). Gin is also used to describe the taking of a piece in chess.

Because rice accompanies just about every Thai meal, gin kao is usually used instead of gin to mean “eat.” It is perfectly acceptable to use gin kao to describe the inhalation of a cheeseburger, for example.

6. aroy

Deriving from this preoccupation with food is aroy, which means “tasty”. Thus does aroy appear in the names of many a Thai restaurant. A common experience among newcomers to the kingdom is to be offered a food they have never seen before, together with the pronouncement aroy. Thais are very proud of their cuisine, so the follow-up question aroy mai? (“tasty?”) is usually not far behind.

7. sanook

Sanook, meaning “fun”, is a guiding principle of Thai social life. If you have recently returned from a trip, whether from Malaysia or the mall, you are likely to be asked sanook mai?: “was it fun?” An experience that is merely educational, or, as slang has it, “intense”, would probably be given the swift Thai denunciation: beua, or “boring”. If it’s not sanook, it’s not worthwhile. Thus sanook and sabai are a common element of the names of Thailand’s many watering holes.

8. ba

Westerners often receive – and deserve – the charge of ba!, meaning “crazy” or “mad”. You are ba if you do anything stupid or unexpected, like driving poorly or dancing spontaneously. Tellingly, the Thai phrase for methamphetamine – the country’s most destructive drug – is ya ba, or “mad medicine”.

9. pai

A third way of Thai greetings is with the word pai, or “go”: pai nai mah, or “Where have you been”. As with “have you eaten” is really little different in intent from “What’s going on”.

Pai is also the source of pa, which ostensibly means “let’s go”, or “get a move on”, although a Thai will often say pa a hundred times over the course of an hour preceding actual departure.

10. sawatdeechohk dee

No collection of essential Thai phrases would be complete without sawatdee, the all-purpose Thai salutation. No need to bother distinguishing between “good morning” and “good evening”, “hello” and “goodbye”: sawatdee covers them all. But there are alternatives for parting, like chohk dee, meaning “good luck”. Chohk dee also serves as a fair substitute for “cheers”, not in the evolved British sense of “thanks”, but in the old-fashioned sense of “may the road rise to meet you, may the wind always be at your back.”

Months

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Moggarakom
Goompaphan
Meenakom
May-sa-yon
Prues-saphakom
Mithunayon
Garagadakom
Singhakom
Gan-ya-yon
Tulakom
Prues-sajigayon
Tanwakom
 
Food and Drink

Not too spicy please
No sugar, please
This is too spicy
Chicken
Beef
Pork
Fish
Spicy prawn soup
Chicken & coconut soup
Fried fishcakes
Chicken in pandanus leaves
Chicken curry
Chili beef
Fried rice
Thai-style noodles
Salad (usually very spicy)
Pomelo salad
Sticky rice & mango
Coconut ice cream
Fresh lime juice
Water
Tea
Coffe
Ice
Chilies
kor mai phet
mai sai nam taan
nee phet gern pai
gai
nuea
muu
plaa
tom yam gung
tom kha gai
tod man pla
gai haw bai toey
gaeng phet gai
panaeng nuea
khao pad
paad thai
yam
yam som-o
khao niew mamuang
ai-tim gathi
nam ma-nao
nam
nam cha
ga-fae
nam khang
prik
Basic Greetings and Phrases

Hello, good morning
How are you?
Thank you
never mind
Fine thanks
I cannot speak thai
Please speak slowly
I don’t understand
Do you understand?
May I take a photograph?
May I use the telephone?
Where is the rest room?
How much does this cost?
What is this?
Very expensive
Do you have something cheaper?
The bill please
Goodbye
See you again
Pleased to meet you
Happy new year
Happy birthday
Good luck!
Sorry/excuse me
Does anyone speak english?
I need a doctor
Delicious!
sawasdee (krup/kaa)
sabai dee reu?
kop koon (krup/kaa)
mai pen rai
sabai dee (krup/kaa)
phoot Thai mai dai
prohd phoot cha-cha
mai kao chai
kao chai mai?
tai ruup dai mai?
kor chai torasap dai mai?
hong nam yoo tee nai?
nee tao-rai (krup/kaa)
nee arai?
paeng maag
mii tuuk gwaa nee mai?
gep taang (krup/kaa)
la gon
laew phob gan mai
dee jai thee dai phob gan
sawasdee pee mai
sooksan wan gerd
kor hai chok dee!
kor thoad
mee krai pood pasa ang-grit dai bang mai?
tong karn mor ma raksa
a-roy!
Days of the week

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Today
wan chan
wan angkaan
wan phut
wan paruhat
wan suk
wan sao
wan a-tit
wan ni

 

Directions

I want to go…
Where is…?
Turn left
Turn right
Straight
ahead
Stop here
Slow down
Be careful
yaak ya pai…
….. yoo nai?
leeo sai
leeo kwaa
trong pai
yuut tee
nee
cha-cha
ra wang

Places

Airport
Bus station
Railway station
Police station
Hotel
Embassy
Hospital
Post office
Market
sanam bin
sa-tanee rot mae
sa-tanee rot fai
sa-tanee tum-ruat
rong-raem
sa-tantood
rong-payabaan
prai-sanee
talaad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *