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Is it Kun, Pêe, Aa-jaann, or Pôo yài Moo?…

There supplied to be a time in the west when calling a human being by their an initial name was something you didn’t do until you had known them because that a significant length that time, and also then only when you had actually become an extremely close. Nowadays, the brand-new generation is often on a very first name communication literally from the moment they meet. That may be true in a the majority of places, however in Thailand over there is a wrinkle to this rule.

Although Thais are always on a first name basis due to the fact that they eschew the usage of critical names, they almost never use the person’s first name or nickname ~ above its own. They practically always include some sort of honorific or partnership title. And if we leave this honorific off then it’s possible that we space forcing a familiarity v our Thai acquaintances that we have actually not however earned.

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The most typical of these honorifics is คุณ /kun/ (Sir or Madam) which is typically OK to use with most people except it just could be a small formal to usage with civilization really close come you.

The term คุณ /kun/ was initially a royal title bestowed to display respect. Later on it took on the use it has today. คุณ /kun/ can likewise mean “you”. Thus, you gain the common “hey you.”, so an extremely jarring come the English speaking listener’s ear. However due come the mistranslation, the one that calls the end “hey you” just can think he is just saying, “hello sir”.

Another definition for คุณ /kun/ is Mr./Ms. Because that years ns was referred to as “Mr. Hugh” (mostly since in Thai lock would have been utilizing “Kun Hugh”). Later, when I came to be a little older and also got my masters degree I i graduated to อาจารย์ /aa-jaan/ (teacher) Hugh. Currently that i am retired, and also everyone (is over there a conspiracy here?) describes me together ลุง /lung/ (elder uncle) Hugh. As long as castle haven’t began with ตา /dtaa/ (grandpa) Hugh, ns OK v that.


Many honorifics provided with ours names either describe a certain status us have achieved or a relationship between us and the speaker. Age relationships room quite important in Thailand and will usually determine what form of honorific or relationship title is used. One trick mine wife provides when meeting someone new is come say, “by the way, what year did you graduate?” The price will typically tell her, without having to questioning the who age, even if it is she is enlarge or younger 보다 the person she has just met, and thus, what honorific come use.

In Thailand, native westerners use only with family members quite regularly indicate period relationships. Since these relationships are significant, making use of the exactly one is essential. That is likewise quite important to usage the exactly honorific v someone who has completed his or she title through education and learning or promotion.

In Chiang roof (where ns live), the term provided for an older mrs is แม่ /mâem (mother). In various other parts of Thailand it could be น้า /náa/ (younger aunt) or ป้า /bpâab/ (older aunt). My mam likes Chiang Mai’s คุณ แม่ /kun mâe/. She lot prefers it over one that we are beginning to hear more and an ext lately, คุณ ยาย /kun yaai/ (grandmother). The use of kun before an additional honorific – together in คุณ แม่ /kun mâe/ or คุณ ลุง /kun lung/ – basically doubles the honor bestowed upon the listener.

The just time you can hear someone utilizing a person’s surname alone is once speaking to a young child, or sometimes to a servant, or as soon as young world speak through someone their very own age. But even servants are due their honorifics. An enlarge servant can be described as ป้า /bpâa/ (auntie). A younger one can be described as น้อง /nóng/ (younger sister). Our kids were instructed to speak to their nanny พี่ /pêe/ (older sister).

Jarring come my ear is once an expat speaks to, or ad to, a Thai utilizing the an initial name only. For example, “hello Wichai” and “where is Mali going?”

Suggestion. Hear to what Thais room saying. Begin paying fist to how regularly you listen Thais introduce to each other using first names only. You’ll notification that the not very often. Then watch how frequently you are referred to by your an initial name alone. You’ll uncover it’s just from Thais who’ve stayed in the west for quite some time.

In Thailand it’s an ext proper to say, “hello Kun Wichai” and also “where is Pêe Mali going?”

So following time you space talking come a girlfriend or even referring to them when talking through someone else, shot using an ideal honorific. Something choose Kun Somchai, or Aa-jaan Somchai, or Pêe Somchai, or Lung Somchai. Her listeners will recognize that you have graduated to not just a better understanding the the Thai language yet a closer understanding of Thais and also their relationships.

Common Thai honorifics…

The adhering to are usual honorifics heard day-to-day in Thailand. You can use any type of of these adhered to by a very first name or nickname. Oh! simply one critical wrinkle. The ax “kun” is well when used with who else’s name yet is not used when introduce to yourself. I deserve to refer come myself together Lung Hugh, or Aa-jaan Hugh, or Pêe Hugh, however I cannot contact myself Kun Hugh.

The honorific is complied with by the person’s name or nickname. A couple of examples are: Kun Catherine, Pêe Lek, Aa-jaan Jackson, and Pôo yài Moo.

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Mr/Miss/Ms/Mrs/: คุณ /kun/ Mother: แม่ /mâe/ Father: พ่อ /pôr/ Younger Sibling: น้อง /nóng/ larger Sibling: พี่ /pêe/ Elder Uncle: ลุง /lung/ Younger Aunt: น้า /náa/ older Aunt: ป้า /bpâa/ Grandmother: ยาย /yaai/ Grandfather: ตา /dtaa/ clinical Doctor: หมอ /mŏr/ Teacher: อาจารย์ /aa-jaan/ Professor: ศาสตราจารย์ /sàat-dtraa-jaan/ village Chief: ผู้ใหญ่ /pôo yài/ Mayor: นายก /naa-yók/ Governor: ผู้ว่า /pôo wâa/ Boss: นาย /naai/

When in doubt (except with really nearby friends, or those a many younger than you, or who are pertained to you), คุณ /kun/ is always a polite method out.