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Lesson Transcript


Hi everybody! Jay here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Thai questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: What are 5 commonly used Thai idioms?
Thai idioms can help you expand your knowledge of not only the language, but also of Thai culture. Most of the Thai idioms derive from natural and cultural references, which are quite interesting. There are loads of Thai idioms, but today we’ll explore five idioms that can be used or heard on a daily basis.
Let’s begin with the first one: สมน้ำหน้า sŏm nám-nâa (literal meaning: “serve your face”). This is commonly used when, for example, you notice someone cheated on a test and he/she gets caught. You might say สมน้ำหน้า sŏm nám-nâa to the cheater. The closest meaning is “you get what you deserved.”
The second idiom I’ll teach you is ง่ายเหมือนปอกกล้วยเข้าปาก ngâai mǔuean bpàawk glûuai khâo bpàak (“easy as peeling a banana”). The closest English idiom in meaning is “easy as pie.” In Thai, we use peeling a banana instead as bananas are a local fruit. We can say this, for example, if you took a test and found it easy. You’d say ข้อสอบง่ายเหมือนปอกกล้วยเข้าปาก khaâw sàawp ngâai mǔuean bpàawk glûuai khâo bpàak. (“The test was very easy.”)
The third idiom is ดินพอกหางหมู din phâawk hăang mǔu (literal meaning: “dirt covering pig’s tail”). This idiom is used to describe someone who likes to procrastinate and build up more and more work along the way, so that in the end, it’s hard for them to accomplish the task. We compare this behavior to pigs as a pig will roll around in the mud all day long and build up so much mud on its tail that in the end, the pig can’t move its tail. We’d use this phrase if, for example, you have multiple assignments due on the same day, but you play games instead of doing them. Your mom might come and say that your assignments could become ดินพอกหางหมู din phâawk hăang mǔu if you don’t complete them.
The fourth idiom I’ll teach you is ปิดทองหลังพระ bpìt thaawng lăng phrá (literal meaning- “putting gold sheets at the back of monk statues”). This idiom describes someone who does good deeds without announcing them to the world. In order for Buddhist monk statues to be completed, golden sheets are put all over the statues. Most people will put golden sheets at the front of the statue. If someone puts it at the back of the statue, it means that they do not seek to get attention for doing good deeds as people rarely check the back of the statue. A possible situation in which you’d use this idiom would be when an employee continues to help on a project from behind the scenes and without getting any credit for it. He or she is someone who is ปิดทองหลังพระ bpìt thaawng lăng phrá.
The last Thai idiom of this lesson is เข็นครกขึ้นภูเขา khĕn khrók khûen phuu khăo (literal meaning - “rolling a mortar up the mountain”). It describes someone who is under-qualified for tasks. When you do tasks that are harder than what you can handle, it’s like rolling up a mortar, because it’s a heavy and big object and rolling it up into steep mountains is a difficult task.


Pretty interesting, right?
Do you know any other Thai idioms? Let us know in the comments below!
Bye! สวัสดีค่ะ (sà-wàt-dii khâ)