I have a confession to make. I love Thailand, I love Thai food, I love Thai people (this is not the confession). The confession is that I do not love the Thai language or maybe it’s that the Thai language doesn’t love me. I find Thai very difficult to learn and to pronounce. Just the other day, I found out that when I thought I was saying “take home” instead of the word for take I was actually using a rather common word for vagina! I can only imagine how the food vendors must have been laughing!
I really want to do better! So starting today, I commit to learning and practicing a new Thai word or phrase daily. I already know how to say “Hello and Goodbye” (same word) as well as “How are you?”, “I am fine.” and “Thank you. I also use “delicious!” and “cute!” a lot. Delicious because the food always is and cute because I love babies and little children. Two other really great phrases that I love are “mai pen rai” which basically means “no worries” and “jai yen” which literally means cool heart and is a great reminder to stay calm and composed. The philosophy of “jai yen” is one of the many reasons I love Thailand so much!
I am going to start with learning my numbers, 1-10, which I understand will also give me everything I need to say 20, 30, 100, etc. Today I am also practicing “How much?” which is “Gee Baht?”.
One thing I have mastered is to put the feminine “kha” at the end of every phrase. Men should say “krap”.
Of course, there are lots of websites, etc for learning Thai. I found this one helpful, here are their suggestions:
- Sa-wat dee (hello)
Used for both hello and goodbye.
- Khop koon (thank you)
How to show your appreciation once you’ve been handed your Singha beer and pad Thai.
- Gee baht? (how much)
Essential for all the shopping you’ll be doing, or when haggling with tuk-tuk drivers.
- Yoo tee nai…? (where is…)
Invaluable when lost! Just point at a place on your map or in your guidebook and say ‘yoo tee nai’. Also useful when you are trying to find the right bus to go to Phuket or otherwise.
- Mai ow (don’t want)
Useful for fending off persistent street vendors.
- Khor tort (sorry)
Stood on someone’s foot at the Chatuchak market? Now you can apologise.
- Neung, song, saam, see, haa, hook, jet, baat, gow, sip (one to ten)
Impress the locals by reciting one to ten.
- Lot noi dai mai? (can you make it cheaper?)
If you are doing a lot of shopping then try this handy phrase. By speaking a little Thai you might just get a better discount.
- A-roi (delicious)
Show your appreciation for that delicious Thai meal! You never know, if you go back to the same place you might get an extra helping.
- Mai pen lai (never mind)
A common phrase in the Thai language – if someone apologises to you (khor tort) then reply with ‘mai pen lai’. If someone thanks you (khop koon) say ‘mai pen lai’. If there’s a mix up (which invariably happens with a language barrier) have a chuckle and say ‘mai pen lai’!
So I say to you now: Sawadee Kha! (Goodbye!)