Learn 300 Words of Thai in 5 Minutes!!

You will see many English words written in Thai characters when you visit Thailand. This says “ice cream”

After mentioning ‘Tap Sap’ (Imported vocabulary) in my last blog I couldn’t help but sit back and write up a whole stack of notes on the issue and this is the end result. See below for the entire list I have put together

I’ve clearly noticed that a whole load of our foreigner readers out there are interested in learning Thai. Since living here, I can’t remember how many times now someone has asked me to the likes of “How do I go about getting started with learning the Thai lingo?” well, sure-a less, I’ve pointed them in the direction of ‘Tap Sap’, cause its darned easy Thai lingo to learn as of course it is in fact English in origin.

Since the Thais started playing around with the Thai language they have effectively made up a whole string of English sounding phrases that most foreigners wouldn’t have a clue to the meaning of and one of the ‘classics’ has to be ‘American Share’. This Thai-Eng lingo does in fact mean to ‘share the bill’. In Thai tradition it’s usually the elder that foots the bill (ie the one who is oldest or wealthiest). This phrase did in fact arise from the days of the American Gis. ‘American Share’ has certainly become popular over the years due to cultural development.

If you thought that Thai-Eng lingo was pretty absurd, nothing beats this one: ‘Working Woman’: I don’t know about your home country but in my hometown ‘Working Woman’ does not sound good at all!! And sounds instead like a stray woman walking the streets at night!! Here in Thailand, it means a woman who is pursuing her career ie, working for a company etc.. This phrase became so popular that a few years back there was even a TV chat show named ‘The Working Woman’. So lads, the next time you meet some Thai girl on ICQ that tells you she is a ‘Working Woman’ for goodness sake don’t misunderstand what she’s trying to say!

One of my fave Thai-Eng phrases has to be ‘Lip-sing’. Perplexed to the meaning? Well, don’t be as it in fact means ‘to mime’. Therefore, the next time when you are out with your Thai friends and they are egging you on to sing the awful likes of ‘Take me home country road’ or ‘Hotel California’ (for the ninety-fifth time!) just inform them that you prefer to ‘Lip-sing’ and so evading this gruesome chore. Next, we have the cute ‘awk date’ which actually translates as ‘go out on a date’, pretty popular phrase with the younger trendy Thais. As for Pattaya’s ‘Banana Boats’, the Thais just love them!!

Now, since the introduction of ‘Tap Sap’, a darned load of English words within the Thai lingo have in fact been corrupted in meaning and now mean something completely different to the English. The worst of all may in fact be ‘Coffee Shop’. Here in Thailand a ‘Coffee Shop’; means nothing of the sort and certainly not the kind of place to take yer girlfriend or old mum when she comes for a visit!! As for coffee, such establishments do serve such a thing but they’ll prefer you instead to be knocking back bottles of beer and buying drinks for a few stray ladies who will soon be appearing uninvitedly at yer table!!

As for a ‘Pub’, I’m not sure about you Americans but in England a pub is usually a dull, squalid place where for some mysterious reason half the customers stand at the bar being served by a couple of grannies. As for a ‘Pub’ in Thailand! You’ll soon be bopping away at your table and being entertained by some scad-looking girlie singers wearing as little as possible in some rather raunchy out-fit. Then for the female customers there are a set of fine handsome male singers wearing the latest Japanese hair-do to admire. Certainly beats having to stand at the bar in a pub back home having to listen to the likes of ‘Darned government cut me social welfare benefit again’. Then, we have the word ‘bar’, it may sound perfectly OK in English to say ‘I’m going out to the bars tonight’ but if you translate this to Thai it does not sound good. And instead means you’ll be looking for more than just a game of pool and a chat with yer buddies!! You have been warned.

Next, we have the word ‘Scotch’. If it’s a bottle of whiskey your after from your local shop to celebrate your new house-warming party, the shop-owner will be instead handing you adhesive tape! Of course ‘Scotch’ in Thai is actually an abbreviation of ‘Scotchtape’! Now a ‘Tour bus’, these in Thailand are any old inter-provincial air-con bus and nothing like the double-decker tour buses that rove around the streets of Paris.

Many words to do with the car are “tap sap” like this one, turbo, and also break, clutch and air.

The Thais certainly love ‘Tap Sap’ that has hailed from The States and ‘Camp’ is one of them. Originally coming here as a teacher I was bewildered when arriving at ‘Camp’ as it was in fact a modern funky place with dormitories to sleep in. To us Brits it is nothing of the kind, but instead a smelly camping ground where you sleep in a tent! Here, in Thailand, its camp this and camp that, I mean any darned location where the company staff or students go for a day or two and play nothing but silly games and ‘sing karaoke’.

Now we all know the Thai people have a plentitude of virtues and one of them has to be ‘nicely-cunning’, I mean they are pretty smart in regards to ‘Tap Sap’. Not only do they import a word from English but they then abbreviate it. Look at the English language, now what’s the point in saying the long-winded likes of ‘Basketball’ when you may as well just say ‘Bas’? Or ‘Badminton’ when you may as well shorten it to ‘Bat’. The Thais have certainly taught us a lesson in laziness of speech! ‘Air’ can mean either ‘Air-conditioning’ or ‘Air-hostess’. ‘Batt’ for ‘Battery. Then if you’ve just arrived at your office job after being sent out here by your company, don’t be perplexed if you here the likes of the workers mentioning “Soup, soup” all day. There aren’t talking about their favourite broth of course, but instead gossiping about their ‘Supervisor’.

Should you hear any Thais asking you “What is your ‘spec’ in a guy?” they are in fact asking you “What specifications do you look for in a guy?” ie. What kinda guy do you like? Then, there is ‘Mike’ as in ‘Microphone. ‘Down’ as in ‘Down-payment’ and ‘Film’ as in ‘Camera Film. Then, one that certainly gets on a lotta peoples’ nerves, and that is ‘Charge’. Not only does ‘Charge’ mean as in the sense to ‘charge a battery’ but it also means ‘Overcharge’.

Then we have the classic ‘Ver’ (Wer)!! ‘Ver’ is an abbreviation of ‘Over’ and can be used when seeing someone obviously making a fool of themselves. Yes, ‘Wer” means ‘Over the top’.

Once upon a time ‘Tap Sap’ used to compromise of only nouns as in ‘Helicopter’ and ‘Taxi’ etc… but a fair share of common verbs and adjectives are engraining themselves in the Thai lingo. Last time I told you about ‘Work’, ‘Get’ and ‘Take care’ but howabout the word ‘Show’. Geez, this word in Thai now has as many or even more meanings as the English equivalent. If someone likes to ‘Put on a bit of a performance in front of the room’ it means that person ‘Likes to ‘Show’. Then in regards to girls who enjoy wearing something a little revealing, she too also likes to ‘Show’. ‘Show’ can also have a negative meaning, as in ‘Show off’. Then if you feel a little injustice being dealt your way just say ‘Mai fair’ as in ‘It’s not fair’. Or if your not sure about something just mention ‘Mai sure’ as in ‘I’m not sure’. And…should you hear any Thai ask you to the likes of “What football do you cheer?” they of course means ‘Cheer’ in the sense of ‘Support’

And finally, howabout ‘Hit’. It certainly doesn’t translate to a ‘Hit in the head’ but it does translate to ‘Hit’ as in ‘Plaeng hit’ (Hit Song). Or just about anything that is in fashion. Then we got the latest of all the ‘Tap Sap’ – ‘Hot’. Not hot as in the weather but ‘Hey he’s a hot guy’ ie… he’s a bit of a stud!

As promised, please find below my whole list of ‘Tap Sap’. I decided to split the list up into three. The first list is of ‘Tap Sap’ that is now perfectly common in the Thai language and on some occasions, if there is a Thai word equivalent, it has now become defunct in spoken conversation. The second list comprises of ‘Tap Sap’ where even though there is a perfectly usable proper Thai word, the ‘Tap Sap’ is used just as often, or in some cases more. The third includes ‘Tap Sap’ that is used with up-to-date Thais and especially those who are students or have a decent job. Most of these ‘Tap Sap’ however wouldn’t be understand by your average farmer. For a more comprehensive list of these just listen to the next speech by our beloved PM. A speech of his in Thai goes alone the lines of “Blaaa blaaa infrastructure blaaa capitalism” etc…. of course half the upcountry population haven’t the faintest but who cares! He sounds ‘Brainy’.

I have not included ‘Technical’ ‘Tap Sap’ like ‘Bacteria’, ‘Amoeba’, ‘Alluminium’ or say ‘Malaria’ etc..

To be understood you’ll need to say the following ‘Tap Sap’ with the Thai pronunciation. Try them out!!

1) Visa, Hello (telephone), Free (as in getting something), Pump (as in pump/petrol station), Sexy, Townhouse, Cake, Battery, Notebook (as in PC), Jeans, Lipstick, Chalk, Check-in (hotel), Theque (discotheque), Sheet (paper), Chemi (Chemistry), Board (Whiteboard etc), Bow (hair), Plan, Microwave, Skateboard, Cheerleader, Cook (occupation), Cookie, Guide (occupation), Tour (go on), Stamp (letter), Motorcyke (motorbike), Shirt, Game, Honeymoon, Print, Poster, Check (bank), Ball (football), Giraffe, Gorilla, Chimpanzee (lots more animals), Volleyball, Ping Pong (Table Tennis) (lots more sports), Commission, Marker (pen), Suit, Coupon, Corruption, Tank (as in oil), Sofa, ICU, Lock, Lift (elevator), Seminar, Game Show, Cutter, Invoice, Liquid (Liquid Paper), Gel (hair), Stunt, Cartoon, Furniture, Tip (in a restaurant), Gym, Logo, Barber, DJ, Cream, Chat (Internet), Copy (fake), Guitar, Piano, Neon, Bonus (job), Spa, Jacuzzi, Rock (music), Yaught, Cashier, Skate (roller), Fuse, Cap (hat), Scooter, High-Lo (card game), Card (as in X’mas card), Part (as in part 2), Kilometre, Centimetre, Atnomat (automatic), Bingo, Buffet, Calorie, Clip, Franchise, Graph, Tissue, Khaki, Nawee (Navy), Lens, Champ (champion), Opera, Sauce, Chong Fridge (freezer), Starter, Clutch, Brake, Gear (Lots more vehicle words) , Helicopter, Com (computer), Condo, Flat (accommodation), Fax, Stereo, Remote (remote control), Cream, Pear, Plum, Peach, Cherry, Strawberry, Blueberry, Jam, Salad, Sundae, Vanilla, Ice-cream, Beer, Spaghetti, BBQ, Fast-Food, Macaroni, Steak, Mustard, Pasta, Custard, Punch (fruit punch), Wine, Toffee, Nugget (chicken), Chocolate, Donut, French-fries, Hamburger, Hot-dog, Ham, Cheese, Bacon, Mayonnaise and of course Pizza. Then my fave kind of ‘Tap Sap’ for cuteness, Choc-Chip (chocolate chip).

2) Happy Birthday, Bye-bye, Merry X’mas, Smart (as in smart-looking), Dic (dictionary), Charge (battery), Mini-Mart, Xerox (make a copy), Bakery, Bank, Passport, Chauffer, Program, Print, Motorshow, Casino, Office, Walkman, Footpath (sidewalk/pavement), Cologne, Promote, Promotion, Sales (occupation), Joke, Pick-up (vehicle), Bill, Star (as in famous), Queue, Technical, Ticket, Brochure, Bomb, Party, View, Inter (international), Club, Four-wheel, Select, Hero, Lotion, Hurricane, Romantic, Import, Export, Agent, Alien, U-turn, Classic, Curfew, Diet, Disc, Double, Popular, Serve (occupation), Lottery, Engine, Conversation, Menu, Modern, Plaster (sticky), Shock (surprise), Gap, Certificate, Lab (Labratory), Gift, Gift Shop, TV, Walkman, Tape, Projector and Switch.

3) Happy, Sorry, Good-night, Get (understand), Work (as in a plan), Support, Quality, Department, Store, Hotel, Mobile, Surprise, Edit, Police, Dinner, Perfect, Uncivilised, Refugee, Summer (as in camp), Sick, Dancer, Super, Stop, Check (inspect), Magazine, Shampoo, Drop (as in drop a course), Service, Inspiration, Delivery, Drink (both verb and noun/alcohol), Clear (verb and adjective), Holiday (as in day off), Effect, Action, Fit (corrupt usage of Tap Sap, means ‘tight’, as in a blouse), Mini (esp. mini-skirt), Boss, Basic, Advance, Quote, Centre, Save (money), Notice (as in notice board), Note (verb and noun), Size, Revision and finally Form (as in both ‘good form’ and the thing you fill-out)

And I know there are lots lots lots more!!

I do hope that you have found some of the ‘Tap-Sap’ in this blog helpful. I have decided to put together the most comprehensive up-to-date list of ‘Tap-Sap’ available. So, dear readers if you can think of any more ‘Tap-Sap’ pls do write a comment and tell me.

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