If there is one thing the Thais are known for, it is their warm hospitality, and no other action expresses this better than the Thai’s traditional greeting, the Wai.
The Wai, is a slight bow with the palms pressed together as though in prayer. Often spoken with the word “Swasdee“, the Wai is also a common way to express gratitude and respect. But in order to ease your way into the Thai society and become a part of it, you need a wider variety of expressions in your dictionary.
The Thai language is soft and polite, with gender-specific words added to every phrase spoken. An instance of this practice is the word spoken at the time of introduction. When greeting someone, men say “sà-wàt-dee kráp“, and women say “sà-wàt-dee kâ”. “Ja” is most commonly used to address children. Sometimes, it is also used as an informal greeting between friends.
The language is also largely tone based. Knowledge of syllables and the amount of emphasis they demand is necessary. It might be tricky to learn in a short span of time, because one word often conveys several different meanings based on the syllable stressed on. An example is the word “Kao” whose usage extends to “nine”, “knee”, “rice”, “come in”, “news”, and many more, depending on the tone of the speaker.
Since it has been established that Thai can be a complex language to learn, here are some basic tips and phrases which might come in handy while in Thailand.
“Chăn pôot tai mâi bpen” (I don’t speak Thai):
This will help establish that the local language is not in your skillset, and you wish to converse in a different language.
“Kun pôot paa-săa ang-grìt rĕu bplào?” (Do you speak English?):
If you are feeling particularly lost in the foreign land, you may resort to this tourist favourite.
“Sà-baai dee rĕu?” (How are you?):
If you are an enthusiastic learner and keen on speaking the local language, the Thai words for “How are you?” will serve you well as a polite opening.
“Kŏr tôht” (Excuse me/Sorry):
It is easy to step on someone’s toes when you a part of a multitude rushing into the plazas of Bangkok. If you do, a polite “kŏr tôht” will help diffuse any tension.
“Nī̀ khụ̄x xarị” (What is this?):
Tourists and travelers are often bamboozled by indigenous objects, animals or even the cuisine. In such situations, it always pays to know the Thai words for “What is this?”
“Kòp kun” (Thank you):
Politeness and etiquette is a necessity in Thailand, and therefore, learning how to say “Thank you” is of utmost importance. If you are thanking someone older or of a higher social status, “kòp kun mâak” is used.
Throw in some of these Thai phrases when you visit the country next and you can be sure to have a hassle-free trip in the land of smiles.
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