Thai Language Blog

Ngaw and Ngawn Posted by on Feb 14, 2011 in Beginner, Culture, Intermediate

There are some words and concepts in the Thai language of which there is no equivalent in English. So I’m going to tell you a story, of which I hope you can relate to.

The story starts off with a farang named Jason and his Thai girlfriend Lek. They are driving together on a trip to Nakon Nowhere, Thailand. Jason is new to Thailand, only having been there for a week.

Jason’s point of view:

While driving, Jason is talking with his girl, just chit-chatting. He is telling her about Thai foods he doesn’t like. As they pull up to a gas station to rest, and go inside to get some food, he notices she is avoiding him. A bit odd, but he thinks nothing of it – until he asks what she wants, and she just ignores him and walks away! Now Jason becomes very concerned!

Lek’s point of view:

Lek is very proud of her Thai heritage, and wants Jason to enjoy all the things about her culture. But Jason keeps complaining about how bad Thai food is. Why is he such a jerk? It’s putting her in a bad mood, but she doesn’t know what to do. Flustered with emotion, she ignores him at the gas station. Maybe by acting like this Jason will realize how he insulted her heritage, and he’ll apologize.

Jason’s point of view:

Immediately Jason goes into the ‘find out what is wrong’ mode. So he follows her and tries to calm her down. He asks her what’s wrong, and does it with a soft kind voice. He really loves her, but doesn’t have a clue why she is mad at him.

Lek’s point of view:

Jason came around and is being nice again. I told him how it was wrong for him to say bad things about Thai food, but then he explained that he couldn’t eat spicy food. He also said he wasn’t used to eating strange foods and it’ll take him awhile to adjust.

They both hug and sniff kiss, the end.

So why did I tell you this story? It’s to explain two words. The first is ngawn1, งอน, which is what Lek did – got pouty and ignored Jason. The second word is ngaw4, ง้อ, which is what Jason did – chase after the girl and make up. I’m sure you can think back to a relationship of yours where something like this has happened.

Now, it doesn’t always play out like this. Some girls งอน to always get her way with the guy. And sometimes the guy is stubborn to admit fault and refuses to ง้อ – as the girl walks out, the guy would say “don’t forget your coat!” Now, งอน isn’t limited to women, as guys can do it to. Sometimes they’ll get silent, or sarcastic. And I can think of a few times where my ex-girl brought me yummy food to ง้อ and make up after a disagreement!

Perhaps my explanation isn’t so good, so this below commercial is a perfect example. The guy checks out another girl in front of his girlfriend, definitely a no-no. So the guy tries really hard to cheer her up and apologize. Turns out she forgave him right away, but she was enjoying him trying so hard she pretended she was still mad. The catch-line at the end is the secret to ง้อ is simple – just give her Fisho snacks. I don’t know if it will actually work, but I keep a bag in my kitchen just in case (I’m being serious!).

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  1. Snap:

    What a cute story! I love learning by association, now I’ll never forget ngawn and ngaw.