Article About Speak Thai Slang

The idea for the Speak Thai Slang app came from my own growing interest in learning more “street Thai” and efforts to approach the way regular Thai people actually talk, and not sound so much like a walking textbook. I especially started to get more interested in slang when I realized that I could barely understand half of what my Thai friends were posting on Facebook, despite having studied Thai in the classroom for several years.

The one thing you won’t find anywhere in the Speak Thai Slang app are the polite endings ครับ /khráp/ and ค่ะ /khâ/. The easiest way to make something in Thai sound less uptight or formal would be to drop these endings and replace them with something like จ้ะ /jâ/ for statements or จ๊ะ /já/ for questions. These are the ending particles of choice to use if you are flirting with someone. On the other hand, if you are trying to sound cool or tough, then you need to use ว่ะ /wâ/ for statements or วะ /wá/ for questions. Your Thai friends will of course be shocked, possibly offended, and quickly point out to you how rude you sound if they catch you using วะ /wá/ despite the fact that they might use it often themselves and probably hear it on TV dozens of times per day.

Slang is kind of a broad category. So I included in the app stuff like expressions you’d make when you stub your toe, or what you’d say if something really cool and trendy caught your eye. Then there are lots of insults and fighting words that are just fun to know, but hopefully you’d never find yourself in a situation where you need to use them. Far more useful and practical are some of the phrases that can be said in dating situations. And then, of course, no slang app would be complete without a colorful list of terms for certain parts of the human anatomy.

My first version of the Speak Thai Slang app was actually too raunchy for the iPhone, and so specific references to the “dirty deed” have been left out of the current version. But I can share a few with your readers here in the interest of language learning. Thai has quite a few different ways to refer to doing “it”. Probably the most common is the verb เอา (ao), which also means “to take” in general use. Other, more potent verbs, in increasing order of vulgarity, are: ปี้ (bpîi), เย้ด /yét/, and ซี่ /sîi/. A much safer euphemism, often used by married couples, is ทำการบ้าน /tham gaan-bâan/, which translates as “doing the homework”.


This was an article I originally wrote to appear at:

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