Is “Don’t Thai to Me” slang for “Don’t Lie to Me”?

Is “Don’t Thai to Me” slang for “Don’t Lie to Me”?

Don't Thai to Me

During the day I saw quite a few Thai people tweeting this phrase “Don’t Thai to Me”. I didn’t really pay much attention to it at first as it is a bit of a strange phrase. And is, of course, grammatically incorrect. But, apparently this is popular slang among teenagers in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. It basically means “Don’t try and cheat me, lie to me or con me”. Obviously this has negative connotations and has more than likely upset a few Thais. We all know how sensitive they can get. I remember well when I first came here that there was an uproar about an entry in the Longman dictionary that described Bangkok as a “place where there are a lot of prostitutes”.

The Thais were understandably upset that Bangkok had been officially named the “sex capital of the world”. Now they will probably get upset that people are calling them corrupt or a nation of liers. Of course, Bangkok is not the only city in the world to have prostitutes and Thailand is not the only country where government officials are corrupt. But maybe instead of getting angry about this they should do something about it. Stamp out corruption once and for all. And for goodness sake, stop all of this squabbling on the streets. Why can’t Thais go back to loving each other like it was when I first came to Thailand.

Footnote: I did a quick Google of the phrase “Don’t Thai to Me” but all I found were Thai news sites and forums discussing this phrase. So, are teenagers in South East Asia really using this phrase as slang or is it all a big hoax? But, I did find the phrase “Siamese Talk” which is a kind of doublespeak. Saying one thing but meaning something else.

RT @suthichai: แสลงฮิตวัยรุ่นมาเลเซีย, สิงคโปร์, ฮ่องกง: Don’t Thai to me แปลว่า “อย่ามาโกงฉัน อย่ามาโกหกฉัน อย่ามาต้มตุ๋นฉัน” (ลม เปลี่ยนทิศ,ไทยรัฐ)

RT @SedthawutAnusit: อยากเห็นคนไทยรักกันเหมือนเมื่อก่อน

48 thoughts on “Is “Don’t Thai to Me” slang for “Don’t Lie to Me”?

  1. I went to a Nokia shop to get my ancient Nokia mobile ‘phone fixed this week. It didn’t produce any ringing sounds.
    I was told 400 to 600 baht for spare parts. I complained that the last time this happened it was just a “settings” problem, fixed in Big C. They insisted it would be cheaper to buy a new phone. I spent several minutes trying to convince them to have a look and see what they could do.

    A guy in the back room said something so the counter staff took my phone to him. It was returned a minute later working perfectly – a “loose connection” was the problem. No charge.

    Trust these people to be straight with me? Never!

    1. It is VERY much part of the Thai culture to scam, swindle and rob foreigners. Now I know this is an overly broad statement, but even my previous boss took it as normal to double to quadruple the price for a foreigner. Needless to say, I don’t count him among my friends. There ARE honest Thais. I have regular dealing with ONE of them.

  2. U can req some thai ppl help u who pass there
    So some thai ppl kind n want help
    I m the one person who always help foreigners
    I wanna say ur welcome
    But when u req some thai ppl , i know the less of thai ppl can speak english , try to see who wear good dress like worker at company or office
    They will look clean , cleaver
    We also sad about this big corruption
    But not all of thai ppl will lie

    1. I completely agree. Only a small minority of expats are anti-Thai, Ploypilin. Unfortunately they get a wide coverage on many of the forums. i call them the Thai bashers.

  3. it’s involve with the politic issue and it’s quite bias to put the other side down..
    stupid game in Thailand had having continue….
    so! I don’t think this one is true but yes “Capital of Sex’ and “siamese talk” are correct ! 🙂

  4. Stopping corruption in Thailand, i think, will also need to increase the salary of the poorly paid cibvil servants. Indonesia did that undertheir ‘reformasi’ and it works to a certain extent! Thai civil servatns are poorly paid!!

      1. Sorry to say that. but the article is right. I’ve been here for 15 years. If would get one Baht for all the times, these people lie to me, I would have at least a million. E.g. go to any shop, where they do not price stickers on their goods. They always will tell you another price than a Thai person. I’ve seen more than all these people with their pink sunglasses, who believe everything is fine. They just don’t like to see the reality. They do not treat foreigner as equal person, they call us Farang. Which is an inpolite discrimination. In their heart they very fascist,(I have prove and evidence for it. The article “Don’t Thai on me.” came at the right time.

        1. ‘Farang’ is a term describing people from Western World (normally to white people with blonde hair). It is not an impolite term, but a nick name to differentiate White man with other race such as Indian or Chinese (Thai defines a unique terms to call them too).

          1. @Truth Teller: Agreed. No need to get upset about being called “farang”.

            Just listen to what they call dark skinned people! 😀

  5. I suggest to use ‘Don’t SHIN to me’ instead of ‘Don’t Thai to me’. Thai is represents Thai people. But SHIN is represents Shinnawat family, which is the main corrupted.

  6. I don’t think it’s only a matter of politics (or indeed, the Shinawatras). Thai people, rightly or wrongly, have something of a reputation outside Thailand for lying in everyday life – think in relationships, for example. If ‘don’t THAI to me’ is genuinely being used, I suspect it’s more from that route, or at least from a combination of that and corruption.

  7. At first i was really upset when i heard this slang. But now i feel thankful for this slang , if it can wake every Thais up and fix those problem. Also tell the thai politician that every in the world knows what u guys been doing. And shame on them becoz it’s effects the whole country!

  8. I have just noticed this phrase being popular back in a day or two. I also recalled there used to be a scenario like this where we claimed that Laos people stated to one another like: “you are so Thai”, for sure in a negative meaning. Upon searching via internet, all the phrases are 99% from Thai site (the missing percent is this website, haha!). In my view, I couldn’t agree more with “Bangkok Pastor” comment that “this is a hoax aimed at stirring up feelings of nationalism for political gain.”

  9. Regarding this phrase, I’ve spoken among the “Dan cha” who are same as me working with local Thai here.
    In general, we don’t feel that Thai are dishonest or like to lie. Thai are generally very polite, so polite that if we give them a task that they are unable to complete, they will still answer “Krab”, but they will fail you at the dateline.
    We think that, they are not intentionally trying to cheat (for money whatsoever),by nature probably they try to do a quick exit in a situation therefore give some unrealistic promise and did not weigh the consequences, in a harsh word, they are less “reliable” at time, of course not every Thai.
    Here I am not talking about Conman, which every country has.

    I may has encounter some bad experience, but I will never use such phrase, for the respect to the Thai, as a whole nation.

  10. Me, I lost my fiance to a thai girl, I had talked to her nicely and she said she does not care of anything she can leave him any time she want, and laughed at me. after that he text me that she cried, what cried she only laughed at me that I lost infornt me she laughed ,infornt him she cried. but sorry I am not the loser because I know I just woke up from the bad dream ,that he cheated on me while telling me he love me. thanks him that he give me chance to find someone better than him, and his new gf is just playing around like him. so you both don’t thai to me, what else I should call such a bad man and girl like her.

  11. Some lies are white lies to save face and embarrassment, particularly though not exclusively towards farang. In that sense, it is cultural and understandable. We don’t have such a strong concept of face in the West.

    As for the word “farang” it is not always used impolitely.

    For example, the word “nigger” is politically incorrect today but it was not a century ago, then it was an accurate description and acceptable to everyone.

  12. I’m half Thai but didn’t grow up in Thailand. But moved here 6 years ago. and man, i am so disappointed.. I have Asian skin and look Asian. I took a job as a teacher before, and they made me take these stupid English tests. While Caucasian’s weren’t mandated to. And guess what, I was getting paid less than half of what they were getting. I’m not saying that “farangs” are the problem, but it’s the Thais, talk about racial discrimination. and i had a fellow teacher who was French, her English wasn’t really good, no offense but yeah she was teaching English grammar and never had to take the English exams. I got a 970 on the TOEIC while falling asleep. Most boring test ever.

    1. @Mike: You should get a non-Thai passport from your other nationality and tell the school that you are non-Thai but have a nice sun tan.

  13. It’s different perception. I dislike this word but I accepted that some people do anything like this, I just would like to tell everyone..Not all of Thai people tell lie. Nowadays, there’re a lot of problem in Thailand, nobody wants to be in this situation but they can’t choose!.. I think bad people will be get the karma. Finally, the best in my heart that I love is ‘Bhumibol Adulyadej (The King of Thailand)’. <3

  14. I am an expat and have been living in Chiang Mai coming on 10 years.
    After reading this article and the one in Bangkok Post: RE: “Don’t Thai To Me.” I am reminded of a quote I pretty sure many have heard of read one time or another: “EVERYBODY LIES.” Maybe the Thai culture having been ingrained with “Saving Face” lends itself to the idea of of those who believe in the accuracy of the RE above. For those that do I suggest you remember this final quote: “If you don’t understand “face” you don’t know Thailand.

  15. I’m Thai and David, I think you have both got it right. Not all Thais lie but there are cultural influences at work. Mainly the face concept but mai bhen rai has a bearing too. Thais don’t want to be in conflict with one another, so greng jai is also a factor. Thais have a different business ethic to that of the West, that too adds to a complex set of reasons for the phenomenon.

  16. I think the problem here is that Thais have a concept called “Kreng Jai”,which means not doing or saying something that will make the other person feel bad!
    So to a Thai a lie is not actually a lie,it is following Kreng Jai and sparing a persons feelings,that’s also why the Thais don’t like confrontation.
    It does take some getting used to but I find it makes for much more harmonious living in most cases,obviously there are exceptions!

  17. Correction:

    Thai don’t only cheat on farang. The whole thai “system” (state of mind) is based on cheating one way or another. It’s endemic.

    I love thailand!

    1. It’s away of thinking that I’ve come to accept. I told a builder once that he was devious. He took it as a complement. My books Thailand Take Two and A Thailand Diary explain why this is the case. It is partly cultural, partly economic, and partly historical.

  18. Today, my son asked me whether I have ever heard this slang term or not. After hearing this, I can’t say that I feel any emotion for this slang or not. But one thing that I know is that cheating or lying can happen everywhere, not only in Thailand. I always say to my son that the important things that parents try to do now is provide a good education for our kids, and that means this generation must be more clever than us, can use better reasoning for their life, do things in a better way and think about everything by basic good reasoning. I don’t know that whether this way will discredit Thai people or not. But for Thailand, the people who can decide about Thai people is only Thai people themselves. And I wonder if slang words like these can be applied to every country… Would they like to try it? Would they be offended?

    1. “for Thailand, the people who can decide about Thai people is only Thai people themselves”

      You are wrong, Mrs. Wong. The rest of the world knows about Thais and lies. In fact, my Thai landlord made me laugh this week. He said Thailand is a wonderful country, there is plenty of sun, plenty of rain, and everything grows fast. The only problem, he said, is the Thai people. They will cheat and lie to get money. His words, not mine.

  19. Quote “the people who can decide about Thai people is only Thai people themselves”.

    No they cannot.

    1) The education system promotes extreme nationalism (Thailand number 1).
    2) The education system suppresses critical thinking (Don’t get <>).
    3) The elite does not allow to be judged.

    I rest my case.

  20. I think Baht is right. The point, I believe, is that we see lying as wrong while the Thai sees it as avoiding conflict, not losing face, and that it does not really matter. Greng Jai, Face, and Mae Bhen Rai. They will walk away rather than argue and lose face. If face is not involved they will however hold their ground and can be quite violent, and that comes from a sense of self-belief.

    That’s a Thai characteristic as much as lying isa characteristic. I take it as a cultural difference rather than as a criticism. We have a different worldview from the Thai (Weltenschaung)

  21. Lying to avoid conflict (เกรงใจ) is not the same as plain lying (โกหก)

    In the West it’s also not uncommon to avoid conflict or to make the other feel better by not saying the truth (eg. the all classic “does my ass look fat in these trousers?” …).

    Sure, it’s less “complex” than in Thailand (Asia in general), but “plain lying” is “plain lying” and NOT to be confused with grengjai. Bad-intentional-lying is the same all over the world.

    However, to make it even more complex, in Thailand people will also “lie” if they don’t know something. Instead of saying “I don’t know” or “No idea” they will “lie” in order to save their own face.

    Example: You buy something for certain purpose. You ask if it’s strong enough for that purpose and the seller says “yes” whereas he means “I don’t know”. Thais are trained to understand that this YES can mean “maybe” or “I don’t know” or even “NO” depending on body language and stuff, most farang are not. In fact, your average Thai is conditioned not to ask such a potentially confusing question (which is once again a good example of Thai grengjai) 😉

    1. They tell you what they think you want to hear.

      Margaret Mead did the same in “Coming of Age in Samoa when she accepted what the Samoans were telling her researchers about teenage sexual mores. It was only thirty years later that her theory was rubbished by academics checking the facts independently.

      On “farang” being a polite term for a white foreigner; I agree but it can also be used malevolently by Thais. As can “kek” for muslim and “chao kao” for hill tribe but, in the case of those people, rarely if ever to their face. That’s where the use of farang can be different.

      1. Yes, “farang” can be polite or an insult. It all depends on the context and attitude of the speaker.

        Today my friend snookered me while I was playing pool with him. I called him a “bastard”. I would never do that with someone I didn’t know!

  22. For Thai-People, is a shame, some foreigner,Farang,talk so bad about them.
    Iam shure not one Thai like this………
    Don t Thai me……

  23. I am personally more disturbed by the extreme nationalism and complete disinterest in the rest of the world, even by upper middle class Thais. To be proud of country and king (!) is commendable, but a wider world view is essential. Ad the rest of the world is acknowledged, so they will acknowledge you.

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