Register Monday | June 17 | 2019

Thai Me Up, Thai Me Down

Thirteen situation-specific Thai smiles

Thirteen situation-specific smiles used by the people of Thailand in their everyday lives. Each has its own name and inherent message, and most Thais can identify and perform each smile upon request with flawless accuracy. Adapted from Working with the Thais: A Guide to Managing in Thailand by Henry Holmes and Suchada Tangtongtavy.

1. Yim thang nam taa: “I’m so happy I’m crying.”

2. Yim thak thaai: “I do not know you, but I will be polite to you.”

3. Yim cheun chom: “I admire you.”

4. Fuen Yim: “I should laugh at the joke though it’s not funny.” (the stiff smile)

5. Yim mee lessanai: The smile that masks something wicked in your mind.

6. Yim yaw: “I told you so.”

7. Yim yae-yae: “I know things look pretty bad, but there’s no point in crying over spilt milk.”

8. Yim sao: The sad smile.

9. Yim haeng: “I know I owe you the money, but I don’t have it.” (the dry smile)

10. Yim thak thaan: “You can go ahead and propose it, but your idea’s no good.”

11. Yim cheua-cheuan: “I am the winner,” given to a losing competitor.

12. Yim soo: “I am smiling in the face of an impossible struggle.

13.  Yim mai awk: “I’m trying to smile but can’t.”