The fine line between slang and profanity.

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You might have heard a Thai speaking with words or phases that you can’t find the meaning of in a dictionary. Thais might tell you that it’s slang or teenagers’ expressions.

All other languages have slang, the same is true with Thai. Native speakers understand and know when to use it appropriately. For those who learn it as a second language, the thin line that distinguishes slang from profanity is fragile.

Awareness is extremely necessary when it come to the use of slang.

Slang สแลง is the use of informal words, phrases and expression that is used between a certain group of people or used at a specific time. It’s not considered standard in the speaker’s language or dialect.

Just to name a few examples:

Thai

Transliteration

Meaning

แห้ว hâew [to] be disappointed[to] be frustrated
เชย choie [to be] old-fashioned, outdated, unfashionable
บ๊วย búay [to] be the last[to] be the worst
แอ็บแบ๊ว áep-báew [to] act cute, look cute (by behaving in a feminine and childishly innocent way

 

Profanities (คำหยาบ: kam yàap)  , such as swearing, cursing, coarse language or simply inappropriate language, is language that is impolite or offensive in many situations.

Thai profanity words may vary according to the language of the social level and dialect. The use of words depends on the agenda and communicating parties.

Categorized such language in three levels:

Level 1

Commonly spoken but sometimes inappropriate for official communication. However, normally used by some social groups.

For example:

Thai

Transliteration

Meaning

จู๋ jŏo Male genital organ
จิ๋ม jĭm Female genital organ
ล่อกัน เอากัน แทงกัน lôr gan/ ao gan/ tang gan Sexual intercourse
หมา măa Dog
ควาย kwaai Buffalo
ตีน dteen Foot

 

Level 2

Popular with a group of closed friends and found in some movies. However, it’s not appropriate for official communication.

Thai

Transliteration

Meaning

กู goo I
มึง meung You
ไอ้ âi prefix used before the names of men or when referring to men
อี ee prefix used before the names of women or when referring to women
หำ เจี๊ยว กระดอ hăm, jeáw,grà-dor Male genital organ
ห่า ชาติชั่ว ระยำ hàa, chât-chûa, rà-yam, [to be] mean,evil, bastard

 

Level 3

Not commonly used and often prohibited.

For example:

Thai

Transliteration

Meaning

ควย kŭay Male genital organ
หี hĭi Female genital organ
แตด dtàet clitoris
เงี่ยน ngîan [to be] horny
ปี้กัน เย็ด pbîi-gan, yéd Sexual intercourse
 เสือก sèuak [to] butt in ; intrude
เหี้ย แม่ง สันดาน พ่อมึง แม่มึง hêre, mâng, săn-daan, pôr-meung, mâe-meung [to be] mean,evil, bastard

Learning the Thai language can be challenging enough, but I advise students to use slang words with awareness and caution.

Learn the proper Thai with Maanii books and stay out of trouble are my 2 cents. จริงๆ jing jing

p.s. Just for a laugh, read the funny article and learn how to pronounce the different between “to ride ” and  “poop” in Thai

24 thoughts on “The fine line between slang and profanity.

  1. Keith Williams says:

    I find this article extremely interesting. Especially the group 1 words – the slang. I can think of many parallels in English. Indeed some words are supposedly indicators of social class. Dinner/supper or intriguingly the word used to describe ห้องส้วม apparently, the royals and upper classes say lavatory, middle classes say loo or toilet and lower classes say lavatory, Americans say bathroom or restroom. One word that intrigued me was ควาย That word is used as the name for a consonant คอ ควาย but then, it is a low class consonant. :-)
    ( I use the Paiboon 3 way Thai dictionary and find the little symbols it places next to words useful. It indicates type of usage – Royal, Monks, Formal, Colloquial, Profane) It is very difficult though, for a foreigner

    • learn2speakthai says:

      Keith, I’m thinking on list down all slang words or phases and publish it on my site.
      I will explain more on when,how and who are appropriate to use such a word with.
      Any suggestion is welcome!!!

  2. Keith Williams says:

    That would be extremely useful. It is such a complex area. I am sure that the average Thai person would occasionally find British “rules” just as confusing. It is, as you have said many times, a matter of studying culture in order to understand and use language. I will jot down some ideas in an email

  3. Steve Stephenson says:

    I have a Thai friend who has fallen into legal trouble. He is likely to be sentenced to some jail time in the US.

    I know that there is a Thai expression that pretty much translates to “bow the head and accept your lot” but I can’t find it in Thai translation and idiom sites.

    I would also like to tell him to “Keep your head high, because you really have not done anything bad” even though it is illegal where he now lives.

    Any help would be much appreciated. ขอบคุณมากสำหรับความพยายามของคุณ
    -Satip

    • Dear Satip, I wish all the best for your friend’s situation.
      “bow the head and accept your lot” the nearest saying in Thai is ก้มหัวรับกรรม means bow your head and accept your bad karma
      “Keep your head high, because you really have not done anything bad” จงอย่าท้อแท้ or จงอย่ายอมแพ้+เพราะคุณไม่ได้ทำอะไรผิด

  4. หิวข้าว(อีกแล้ว) แต่คุณสแตนลี่ขี้เซาไม่ยอมตื่น
    แม่มมมม แดรกช็อคโกแลต แทนละกัน
    Hello,
    Can you translate this for me?
    คุณส
    It’s slang and I can’t find it.

    • คุณส is not a slang, it’s คุณสแตนลี่ referred to Mr. Stanly.
      The translation : (I’m) hungry (again), sleepy Mr.Stanly doesn’t want to wake up. Darn!! (I will) eat chocolate instead.

    • นุที่รัก/nú têe rák
      นุ/nú this is a person’s name
      ที่รัก/têe rák means darling ; honey ; dear

  5. Hi,

    I have heard a couple of things in Thai that I think might be slang, as they didn’t seem to make much sense at the time:

    เพ็ญหยุด

    ยอดหมวย

    I don’t really recall the full context properly now as it was some time ago, but I had them written down and meant to look them up – but the on-line dictionary meaning doesn’t seem to mean anything sensible, that’s why I thought they are slang.

  6. please translate

    คุณไอ้หน้าเหี้ย ไอ้ควย ถุ้ย

    Thank you

  7. Your article ref slang/profanity most interesting. Please extend it. Also, for years I have wanted to find a certain expression & I guess you know it but you are a lady & it is a sexual expression I want to use with a woman when making love. Can I ask you without offending? I will try to be somewhat oblique: I know the expression ‘chuk wow’, being the masculine of the expression, what is the feminine? I have been understood using ‘loop hoy’, ‘loop dtaert’ & ‘loop gradum’ but would like to know what women say, they will never tell me, they just giggle & say ‘yes’. Re-reading, I see you asked for examples; I hope this one is OK. Good website. regards, Ed.

  8. I often see on Facebook automatic translation the word ‘horse’ being used when Thai ladies message each other. It seems to be used in some slightly different context at times……..but they are NOT talking about the animal.

    It seems to be in the context of their bodies or who they are with perhaps??

    Can you tell me what the meaning of ‘horse’ is, and what is being discussed here?? THANKS a lot!

    Original Thai, then the Facebook English translation:
    Lady #1: กรุงชิงช้ะ (In)
    Lady #2: ม้ายจ้า (a horse)
    Lady #1: นึกว่าบ่อน้ำร้อนกรุงชิง (I thought it was hot)
    Lady #3: รู้สึกว่าผอมลงม้ายอ่ะ (Feeling skinny down the horse)
    Lady #4: ทำพรืออ่ะนัองโอ๋ (Make a wish. Cuddle Ong)
    Lady #2: เต้นแอร์โรคบิคกับคุมอาหารพี่ปู (Dancing Air, disease and food, brother crab)
    Lady #2: พรหมคีรี (Phrom)
    Ron recently posted.. Thai Language. Straight To The PointMy Profile

  9. มึง

    My Thai girl always told me this is an extremely insulting form of “you”. I think it’s far worse than just not appropriate.

  10. I am frequently coming across the word บักฮามึง which seems to translate as ‘cuddle’ but I don’t think this is actually what it means in English. Could you help me with this please?

  11. A Thai friend told me about a slang work “chatka” sp. Does it mean ‘what do you have to trade if you are broke’? Is this accurate and what is the correct spelling?

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