Don’t shoot! Those drugs aren’t mine!

These phrases are from the World Nomads Thai phrasebook.

Don’t shoot! — Ya ying
Those drugs aren’t mine! — Yapuak nee mai chai kong pom

I hope you won’t need them. However, you do need to learn Thai in order to live here comfortably. Because not many people in Thailand know English. It is a good place for TESOL teachers — there is a lot of work for them here.

There is another problem in communication with Thais. This problem arises when they try to save face.

Saving face is important in many Asian cultures but Thais do it in a peculiar way. I’ll give an example.

Suppose you want to find a certain hotel, or bank, or anything else in the city. You ask someone, e.g. the shopkeeper of a nearby shop to give you directions. Suppose he doesn’t know where it is, or he doesn’t fully understand your English, or — what is more likely (and this is really annoying) — he does understand your English perfectly but he is afraid that he won’t understand you at some point during your conversation. All this would cause him to lose face. So, what will he do to save face?

He looks around, and tries to find the building that is the farthest away. Then he points at it, and tells you that what you are looking for is behind that building.

By the time you get there you become so exhausted that you have neither strength nor will to return back and smash his face. Thus, he has saved his face.

Published in: on 05/06/2011 at 15:11  Leave a Comment  

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