I saw many kind and friendly foreigners visiting Thailand trying to practice, how to say hello in Thai.
All of them are awesome, thank you for their interest in Thai culture. This difference between Thai greeting and westernize isn’t only words but also the posture which we call ‘’Wai’’.
For greeting, Thai people say ‘’Sawadee’’ and simultaneously put their hands together at the breast position.
If the one we are greeting is the same age or younger, it’s absolutely okay just to say ‘’Sawadee’’ (no posture, but bend a little bit forward).
If that person is an elder, then we will make a full posture in order to pay respect.
To say Sawadee to an older person without Wai posture is considered unrespect, please pay attention to this matter.
To say hello or Sawadee in Thailand, the word at the end is different between males and females.
For a male, he would say ‘’Sawadee Krab’’ and for a Female ‘’Sawadee Kha’’. Don’t ask me why that, we used to say this many decades ago.
Now you might recognize that you have often heard the words ‘’Krab’’ and ‘’Ka’’ at the end in another sentence as well, not only after‘’ Sawadee’’.
Yes, we usually say ‘’Krab’’ and ‘’Kha’’ at the end of every sentence. Without saying ‘’Krab’’ and ‘’Ka’’ at the end of a sentence, the grammar is still correct,
but it just shows that he or she is not interested in the person he or she is talking to and it can be considered as unpolite.
Even in the company office, when we write an email or even message WhatsApp to our colleagues or boss in English. We sometimes add ‘’Krab’’
and ‘’Ka’’ at the end of that message in English to pay respect to the person we are writing to.
For example: WhatsApp chat in English:
John: I will go to the supermarket krab, would you need something there?
Ellen: I would have a bottle of milk kha
John: Normal mike or low-fat krab?
Ellen: A normal one is fine, I will need it for coffee kha
John: Understood krab
I would recommend you practice this ending word when coming to Thailand. We as Thai see a tourist ‘’ Farang” saying Krab or Kha is very lovely.
We tend to be helpful to this kind of tourist or give more service than usual.
It is a little but powerful word that makes the listener feel good and makes the speaker look lovely at the same time.
It is a win-win word. Actually,h the word kha is 2 melodies that will be used in different sentient structures.
The high-ton Kha and the low-ton Kha. The high ton – Kha used to be added at the end of a questioning sentence.
While the low-ton Kha is added at the end of a telling or answer sentence. But both tons of words have the same writing farm in English.
So, you always write ‘’Kha’’ no matter if it is a questioning sentence or a telling sentence.
Sometimes we do not make a posture while saying Sawadee to the older person when our hands are carrying huge things.
In this case, It is very ok. But if the thing you are carrying is a small one like your cell phone, book, or pencil, then it is not okay if you do not make a posture to an older one.
Even though there is prohibited stuff that you seriously have to put down before you make a posture. It is shoes.
To make a posture while having shoes in hand is extremely not acceptable. So make sure you are not carrying shoes before making a posture If you want friends.
Besides hello or Sawadee, we make the posture while saying a serious apology. When you do something wrong and want to be excused.
Then Wai or the posture is the catalyst to become easier excused.
However, if the mistake is small, you should not make a posture. It seems to be an overacting.
Like you call a person his wrong name and buy him a postcard to apologize. This kind of mistake can be efficiently solved by an apology without a Wai posture.
But the thing that you have to do when saying apologies is to say Krab or Kha at the end. Like ‘’Apologize Krab or Kha’’.
No matter if it is just a small or very big mistake. Always krab or Kha at the end.
Very important, In Thailand, never say apologize alone without Krab or Kha. If someone says just Apologize alone,
it looks like a not genuine saying then It is even better not to say anything.
So, the Thai language is quite complex to understand. The same words are used for different kind of sentences and the posture give different meaning depending on the situation.
I know it is hard to learn, but if you can, you are just lovely and amazing.
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