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ThaInglish for Beginners

by - 17 Nov 2009

Answering Florian’s question about how we communicate with the Thai people we finally post an article for which we have been collecting some material since the beginning of our journey. Now we give a little introduction to ThaInglish. Thai people have created their own rules concerning grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary of the English language.

As a general rule past tense is ignored, the so called he she it – s muss mit rule is widely unknown and English syntax is a matter of individual creativity like the following examples will demonstrate



Usually Thai people don’t fuss around with many words and reduce every sentence to the most important noun. If they pose a question they will simply add a question tag to a noun and won’t understand you if you don’t follow their manner. If one pimps the simple question „where bus“ by adding the adjective big or mini („where mini/big bus?“) Thai people will immediatly understand that you are trying to express the classification of the vehicle referring to the faster minivan or the slower governmental aircon bus.

Just like most asian peoples Thai people are famous for their special pronunciation of the letter „R“ which sounds more like the letter „L“. So the hotel staff states to be „veli solli“ if they have „no loom“ but recommend to „check again tomollow“. Sometimes their peculiar pronunciation can lead to some confusion. A couple of days ago we were looking for our hotel and a Thai woman told us to walk to a roundabout with a „big cock“ in the centre. Noticing our surprised faces she repeated „big cock, big cock“ and finally pointed at Friedrich’s wrist watch.

Obviously they have certain problems to understand our names correctly and we are known as „Miss Lalai“ and „Sir Piiliiip“. (As you can observe in the latter example Thai people tend to stretch the vocals of every word. Thank you means „kab un kaa“ and if they are very thankful they say „kab uun kaaaaaaaa“).

Expressions you need to know

  • Very common expression is „no hep“ meaning „I/we dont have it“.
  • If you ask for the difference of two items be sure get the answer „same same“ (and be also sure that this is not true). This expression is so common that you adopt it quickly yourself and there are even T-Shirts offered with the imprint „same same“ and on the back it says „but different“.

To be continued…


From → Thailand

5 Kommentare
  1. Ah, thanks for the explanation. The „he she it – s muss mit“ rule was also new to me…

    One more question: Was the „big cock“ next to the „No Porn“ pharmacy?

  2. judipuh permalink


  3. Good thing she didn’t point somewhere else. hahaahaha!
    very entertaining article!

  4. Mareike permalink

    Sarah… Thank you so much! Or as I learned lately: kab uun kaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

    I laughed me dead…

  5. Gundi permalink

    Hei ihr Zwei!
    supa supa – awesome & hilarious!

    Werdet bitte, bitte Reisejournalisten!!!

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