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Tag: Maids

HouseTalk: A Handy Shortlist of Instructions for Your Thai Maid

HouseTalk: Learn Basic Thai Cleaning Instructions

Giving your Thai maid instructions…

When planning a move to Northern Thailand I knew I’d have to get another maid so I put together a general list of things I wanted done. If you are contemplating something similar, at least parts of the list will come in handy for you as well.

Suggestion: After tweaking to suit, print out the text file for maids who can read Central Thai (you’ll also need to delete the transliteration and perhaps the English). But for maids who can’t read (not all maids can), either memorise your version of the list or have them listen to the edited audio. It won’t be perfect but it’ll be a start.

Tip: Audio and pdf downloads are at the end of the post.

Shortlist of Instructions for Your Thai Maid…

วันพุธ วันเสาร์: 9.00 – 16.00
wan pút wan săo: 9.00 – 16.00
Wednesday and Saturday: 9.00 – 16.00


** วันเสาร์ทุกอย่างเหมือนวันพุธยกเว้นไม่ต้องซักผ้าปูที่นอนของห้องนอนใหญ่
wan săo túk yàang mĕuan wan pút yá-gà-wâyn mâi dtông sák pâa bpoo têe non kŏng hông non yài
Saturday everything is the same except for sheets.


ซักเสื้อผ้าก่อน
sák sêua pâa gòn
Start washing clothes first.


** ซักผ้าปูที่นอนของห้องนอนใหญ่
sák pâa bpoo têe non kŏng hông non yài
Wash sheets master bedroom.


ซักผ้าเช็ดตัวของห้องน้ำทุกห้อง
sák pâa chét dtua kŏng hông náam túk hông
Wash towels in every bathroom.


กวาดบริเวณบ้าน
gwàat bor-rí-wayn bâan
Sweep outside.


ดูแลนอกชานให้สะอาดอยู่เสมอ
doo lae nôk chaan hâi sà-àat yòo sà-mĕr
Always keep the balconies clean.


ล้างจาน
láang jaan
Do dishes.


ทำความสะอาดห้องครัว
tam kwaam sà-àat hông krua
Clean kitchen. 


เอาขยะไปทิ้ง 
ao kà-yà bpai tíng
Empty garbage. 


ทำความสะอาดห้องน้ำ
tam kwaam sà-àat hông náam
Clean bathrooms.


เปลี่ยนทรายแมว
bplìan saai maew
Replace kitty litter.


เช็ดฝุ่นเฟอร์นิเจอร์
chét fùn fer-ní-jer
Dust furniture.


ดูดฝุ่นพรม
dòot fùn prom
Vacuum carpets.


ทำความสะอาดพื้น
tam kwaam sà-àat péun
Clean floors.


รีดผ้า
rêet pâa
Iron clothes.


** ปูที่นอนของห้องนอนใหญ่ 
bpoo têe non kŏng hông non yài
Make bed in master bedroom.


เอาผ้าเช็ดตัวแขวนไ้วในห้องน้ำทุกห้องด้วย
ao pâa chét dtua kwăen wai nai hông náam túk hông dûay
Replace towels in every bathroom.


งานอื่นๆที่ควรทำ
ngaan èun èun têe kuan tam
Special instructions:


ซักผ้าปูที่นอน ห้องนอนแขกด้วย 
sák pâa bpoo têe non · hông non kàek dûay
Wash sheets in guest bedroom when there are guests.


อย่าเอาเสื้อผ้าและผ้าอื่นๆที่ซักแล้วตากแดด ให้ใช้เครื่องอบผ้า
yàa ao sêua pâa láe pâa èun èun têe sák láew dtàak dàet · hâi chái krêuang òp pâa
Do not put clothes and other laundry in the sun, use the dryer.


อย่าใส่ผ้าที่เลอะเป็นคราบลงในเครื่องอบ เอามาให้ฉันดู
yàa sài pâa têe lúh bpen krâap long nai krêuang òp · ao maa hâi chăn doo
Do not put stained clothes in the dryer, bring them to me.


อย่ารีดทับรอยเปื้อน
yàa rêet táp roi bpêuan
Do not iron over stains.


อย่าเอาเสื้อผ้าที่เป็นคราบไปเก็บ แต่เอามาให้ฉันดูก่อน 
yàa ao sêua pâa têe bpen krâap bpai gèp · dtàe ao maa hâi chăn doo gòn
Do not put stained clothes away, bring them to me.


อย่าเอาเสื้อผ้าที่ขาดไปเก็บ แต่เอามาให้ฉันดูก่อน 
yàa ao sêua pâa têe kàat bpai gèp · dtàe ao maa hâi chăn doo gòn
Do not put ripped/torn/worn clothes away. Bring them to me.


ถ้าเห็นเสื้อที่กระดุมหลุด ช่วยเอามาให้ฉันด้วย
tâa hĕn sêua têe grà dum lùt · chûay ao maa hâi chăn dûay
Bring clothes with missing buttons to me.


สิ่งที่เมื่อไรที่เห็นว่าควรทำ
sìng têe mêua rai têe hĕn wâa kuan tam
Extras to do during the month:


ทำความสะอาดพื้นบัว
tam kwaam sà-àat péun bua
Clean skirting board/baseboards.


ทำความสะอาดรอยเปื้อนบนผนังบ้าน
tam kwaam sà-àat roi bpêuan bon pà-năng bâan
Remove marks from walls.


เช็ดกระจก
chét grà-jòk
Clean mirrors.


เช็ดหน้าต่าง 
chét nâa dtàang
Clean windows.


ปัดฝุ่นหิ้งหนังสือห้องรับแขก + ห้องนอน 
bpàt fùn hîng năng-sĕu hông ráp kàek + hông non
Dust bookshelves in living room + bedrooms.


ปัดฝุ่นเฟอร์นิเจอร์ไม้ 
bpàt fùn fer-ní-jer máai
Dust wooden furniture (use wax).


ปัดฝุ่นโต๊ะกาแฟ 
bpàt fùn dtó gaa-fae
Dust coffee tables (use wax).


ล้างตู้เย็น 
láang dtôo yen
Clean refrigerator.


ทำความสะอาดข้างหลังตู้เย็น 
tam kwaam sà-àat kâang lăng dtôo yen
Clean behind refrigerator.


ทำความสะอาดในตู้ห้องครัว
tam kwaam sà-àat nai dtôo hông krua
Clean inside kitchen cupboards.


อย่าปล่อยให้สิ่งของมีฝุ่น
yàa bplòi hâi sìng kŏng mee fùn
Don’t let things catch dust.


สิ่งที่ควรทำเมื่อเราไม่อยู่บ้าน
sìng têe kuan tam mêua rao mâi yòo bâan
Things to be done when we are not at home:


ทำความสะอาดบ้าน
tam kwaam sà-àat bâan
Clean house.


รดน้ำต้นไม้
rót náam dtôn máai
Water plants.


ให้อาหารปลา
hâi aa-hăan bplaa
Feed fish.


ให้อาหารแมวทุกวันจันทร์ วันพุธ วันเสาร์
hâi aa-hăan maew túk wan jan · wan pút · wan săo
Feed cats Monday, Wednesday, Saturday.


Downloads: Basic Thai cleaning instructions…

The below downloads include the Thai script, transliteration, and sound files to the phrases in this post.

Pdf download 525kb: HouseTalk: Handy Shortlist of Maid Instructions
Audio download 2.3mg: Handy Maid Instructions

Please note: The materials are for your own personal use only.

The Thai HouseTalk series…

Connecting posts:

Disclaimer: When compiling the HouseTalk posts I often run the Thai phrases and vocabulary through Thai Skype teacher Khun Narisa. But when I code the posts I often tweak a little. So what I’m saying is that snafus are all mine and will be dealt with as such.

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HouseTalk: Learn Thai Washer and Dryer Phrases

HouseTalk: Learn Thai Washer and Dryer Phrases

Thai washer and dryer phrases…

The last laundry post focused on mostly useful laundry phrases. It also introduced Thai manners and a few more things such as do not and must.

Amongst the laundry phrases in this post you’ll find the difference between can’t, don’t, and forbidden. And you’ll soon see that the differences are important to know.

Instructions on operating a washer and dryer…

I like keeping life simple. My clothes last longer that way. To simplify the laundry I instructed my new housekeeper to use the B setting (coloureds) for the washer and to push the GO button for the dryer. So she either puts the few things she does wash on those simple settings or the items are hand washed and air dried. Nothing much in between.

There are many more washing machine options reflected in the phrases below. Personally, I’m not in that comfort zone yet. I’m still thinking about a favourite shirt that died under the iron last week and the beige towel turned green the week before. But some things take time and patience. I know.

HouseTalk: Learn Thai Washer and Dryer Phrases

If you want to get fancy you could match the Thai to the English and print them out. And maybe I will. But for now, here are three variations you can use.

This needs (to be) washed on alphabet A (B, C, D…)
นี่ ต้อง ซัก ด้วย ตัว A (B, C, D…)
nêe dtông sák dûay dtua A (B, C, D…)


This one adjust to A (B, C, D…)
อันนี้ ปรับ ไปที่ A (B, C, D…)
an-née bpràp bpai-têe… A (B, C, D…)


Adjust to A (B, C, D…)
ปรับ ไปที่ A (B, C, D…)
bpràp bpai-têe A (B, C, D…)


Avoiding mildew, rot, and wrinkles…

Do you have a problem with laundry left mildewing in your washing machine? Then the following instructions should keep clothes free from rot and unnecessary wrinkles.

Do not leave clothes in the washer or dryer.
อย่า ทิ้ง ผ้า ไว้ ใน เครื่องซัก หรือ เครื่องอบ
yàa tíng pâa wái nai krêuang-sák rĕu krêuang-òp


Wash only what you have time to finish.
ซักผ้า เฉพาะส่วน ที่จะ มี เวลา ทำ จน เสร็จ
sák-pâa chà-pór-sùan têe-jà mee way-laa tam jon sèt


Clothes left in the washing machine might mildew.
ผ้า ซัก แล้ว ทิ้ง ไว้ ใน เครื่อง จะ ขึ้นรา
pâa sák láew tíng wái nai krêuang jà kêun-raa


Do not put too many clothes in the dryer. They will wrinkle.
อย่า ใส่ เสื้อผ้า เยอะ ไป ใน เครื่อง, ผ้า จะ ยับ
yàa sài sêua-pâa yúh bpai nai krêuang, pâa jà yáp


It’s ok to leave the mop top in the dryer.
หัว ม็อบ ทิ้ง ไว้ ใน เครื่องอบ ได้
hŭa móp tíng wái nai krêuang-òp dâi


Keeping your whites white…

Some of you might not mind your laundry changing colours but I do. Especially when a dear friend gifts a beautiful set of cream towels and one shows up a butt ugly army green. Oh yeah. So these instructions should give your clothes a fighting chance.

These clothes fade, must wash (them) separate.
ผ้า นี่ สีตก ต้อง แยก ซัก
pâa nêe sĕe dtòk dtông yâek sák


Do not wash with other clothes.
อย่า ซัก รวม กับ ผ้า อื่น
yàa sák ruam gàp pâa èun


This (is) colourfast.
นี่ สีไม่ตก
nêe sĕe-mâi-dtòk


This (is) not colourfast.
นี่ สีตก
nêe sĕe-dtòk


Pattern: This noun + adjective.
__ (noun) นี่ __ (adjective)

Sample: These pants are not colourfast.
กางเกง นี่ สีตก
gaang-gayng nêe sĕe-dtòk


Noun 3: shirt: เสื้อ /sêua/, pants: กางเกง /gaang-gayng/, dress: ชุด /chút/, evening dress: ชุด ราตรี /chút raa-dtree/, jacket: เสื้อ กันหนาว /sêua gan-năao/, nightgown: ชุดนอน /chút-non/, tablecloth: ผ้าปูโต๊ะ /pâa-bpoo/


Adjective 2: colourfast: สีไม่ตก /sĕe-mâi-dtòk/, not colourfast: สีตก /sĕe-dtòk/


How to use can’t, don’t, and forbidden…

The difference between can’t, don’t, and forbidden is one of degrees. Can’t is the softest, added to the end of a sentence. Don’t and forbidden are stronger and get more emphasis by being placed at the beginning of a sentence.

Can’t, ไม่ได้ /mâi-dâi/ is the gentle version so it’s not necessary to use the polite particles at the end to soften the demand.

Polite particle (f) นะคะ /ná-ká/
Polite particle (m) นะครับ /ná-kráp/


Don’t, อย่า /yàa/, is one step up from can’t so the polite particles come at the end of the sentence to soften the demand.

Use forbidden, ห้าม /hâam/, sparingly. Like, when your housekeeper puts a $200 silk blouse in the washing machine and you’ve replaced the blouse and now want to emphasize that THIS SHIRT is forbidden to machine wash. But even though you are not happy with the situation, you still soften the harsh(er) order by adding a polite particle at the end.

Another way to soften demands/orders is by softening your voice at the end of a phrase instead of using the polite particles (another softener, ให้ หน่อย /hâi nòi/, is explained further down).


Can’t machine wash.
ซัก เครื่อง ไม่ได้
sák krêuang mâi-dâi


Don’t machine wash.
อย่า ซัก เครื่อง นะคะ / นะครับ
yàa sák krêuang ná-ká / ná-kráp




Forbidden (to) machine wash.
ห้าม ซัก เครื่อง นะคะ / นะครับ
hâam sák krêuang ná-ká / ná-kráp




Saving your maid’s time…

I don’t like make-work. As a practical traveler, a number of my clothes are wash and wear. They are either permanent press of some persuasion, or fashionably rumpled. But if left in the dryer they will then need to be ironed = time wasted.

These are permanent press.
พวกนี้ เป็น ผ้า รีดสำเร็จ
pûak-née bpen pâa rêet-săm-rèt


Machine wash on permanent press setting.
ผ้า รีด สำเร็จ นี่ ต้อง ซัก ด้วย เครื่อง
pâa rêet-săm-rèt nêe dtông sák dûay krêuang


Pattern: Machine wash ___ on (alphabet) A (B, C, D…)
___ นี่ ต้อง ซัก ด้วย ตัว A (B, C, D…)
___ nêe dtông sák dûay dtua A (B, C, D…)


Sample: Machine wash pants on A (B, C, D…)
เสื้อ นี่ ต้อง ซัก ด้วย ตัว A (B, C, D…)
sêua nêe dtông sák dûay dtua A (B, C, D…)


Noun 3: fabric: shirt: เสื้อ /sêua/, pants: กางเกง /gaang-gayng/, dress: ชุด /chút/, evening dress: ชุด ราตรี /chút raa-dtree/, jacket: เสื้อ กันหนาว /sêua gan-năao/, nightgown: ชุดนอน /chút-non/, tablecloth: ผ้าปูโต๊ะ /pâa-bpoo/


Take permanent press out of dryer right away and hang up.
เอา ผ้า รีดสำเร็จ ออกจาก เครื่อง อบ ทันที แล้วแขวน
ao pâa rêet-săm-rèt òk-jàak krêuang òp tan-tee láew-kwăen


Hang up permanent press immediately from the dryer…
ผ้า รีดสำเร็จ ต้อง แขวน ทันที หลังจาก เอา ออกจาก เครื่อง อบ
pâa rêet-săm-rèt dtông kwăen tan-tee lăng-jàak ao òk-jàak krêuang òp


… and check for wrinkles.
ระวัง รอย ย่น ด้วย
rá-wang roi yôn dûay


Spot iron if needed.
ถ้า เห็น รอย ย่น ก็ รีด เฉพาะ จุด
tâa hĕn roi yôn gôr rêet chà-pór jùt


Pattern: ___ (verb) only if needed.
___ เฉพาะที่ จำเป็น
___ chà-pór-têe jam-bpen


Vocab: This pattern is a grab bag so choose from the vocabulary below, wait for the HouseTalk series vocabulary post to come out, or crack a Thai dictionary. Possibilities are: wash windows, clean kitty litter, water plants… up to you.

Do not iron permanent press unless needed.
ผ้า รีดสำเร็จ ไม่ จำเป็น ต้อง รีด นอกจาก ที่ จำเป็น
pâa rêet-săm-rèt mâi jam-bpen dtông rêet nôk-jàak têe jam-bpen


Thai vocabulary for all things laundry…

The below downloads include the Thai script, transliteration, and sound files to this post. These two past months have been crazy busy so I’ll add the vocabulary sometime later.

Pdf download 446kb: HouseTalk: Learn Thai Washer and Dryer Phrases
Sound download 2.3mg: Washer and Dryer phrases

Please note: The materials are for your own personal use only.

The Thai HouseTalk series…

Once a month or more I’ll share one of the subject below. One after another. Until they are done. If you have any suggestions (other than speed up the process ;-) please drop me a note in my contact page.

Connecting posts:

A special thanks for this post goes to Thai Skype teacher Khun Narisa. If you want to learn more about patterns please contact Khun Narisa as she’s the queen of Thai patterns!

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HouseTalk: Learn Mostly Useful Thai Laundry Phrases

HouseTalk: Learn Thai Laundry Phrases

HouseTalk: Introduction to the laundry section…

If you are a gal a percentage of the chats with your Thai housekeeper will focus on the care of your laundry. And if you don’t, you just might find yourself with an eye-raising wardrobe. If you are a guy, well, I’m not a guy so I don’t have a clue what you do. Hold your breath?

This section is big so it’s been separated into several parts: Mostly useful Thai laundry phrases, washer and dryer phrases, ironing phrases, and what gets washed with what.

Some of the Thai phrases in this section might never get used but others will become a staple in your Thai laundry repertoire.

A chunk of the instructions, but not all, have been compiled by hindsight. If truth be known, I spend more time waggling my eyebrows and smiling than ordering my housekeeper around. I leave the cleaning decisions up to her, only giving instructions if a bad habit develops or if a change in the weekly schedule is needed.

But guaranteed, you’ll find the sentence patterns handy for non-cleaning subjects as well.

This section also talks about being polite but please be assured a dedicated post on manners will come later. The aim is to get you adding a touch of sweetness before your Thai housekeeper quits on you. Not after.

Note: Insert your vocabulary of choice where this sound occurs:


(Yes, that’s me. And it’s most likely the only sound you’ll ever hear from me too ;-)

Laundry, the basics: Clean, dirty ripped or torn…

These clothes are clean.
เสื้อผ้า นี่ สะอาด
sêua-pâa nêe sà-àat


Pattern: These clothes are ___
เสื้อผ้า นี่ ___
sêua-pâa nêe ___


Sample: These clothes are not clean.
เสื้อผ้า นี่ ไม่ สะอาด
sêua-pâa nêe mâi sà-àat


Adjective 1: clean: สะอาด /sà-àat/, dirty: ไม่ สะอาด /mâi sà-àat/, stained: เป็น คราบ /bpen krâap/, ripped/torn/worn ขาด /kàat/, old: เก่า /gào/, new: ใหม่ /mài/


And guess what? If you switch out everything but นี่ you’ll be smoking in Thai!

Pattern: This (noun) (is) (adjective)
___(noun) นี่ ___(adjective)


Sample: ชุด นี่ เซ็กซี่
chút nêe sék-sêe


Vocab: The sky is the limit.

Tip: Change out the noun with shirt, pants, dress, pj’s, towels, etc. And then change out the adjective with ripped/torn/worn, stained, old, or whatever it is. Smoking!

Dry-cleaning…

I’ve almost given up on dry-cleaning (my one and only shirt needing dry-cleaning was turfed into the washer and then the dryer) but you might need a few phrases so here they are.

Feature: This: นี่ /nêe/

Use this phrase when you have the item in your hand:

This (is) dry-clean only.
นี่ ซักแห้ง เท่านั้น
nêe sák-hâeng tâo-nán


Use this phrase when you have clothes (plural) in your hand:

These clothes (are) dry-clean only.
เสื้อผ้า นี่ ซักแห้ง เท่านั้น
sêua-pâa nêe sák-hâeng tâo-nán


The pattern for defining what it is (singular):

Pattern: This ____ (is) dry-clean only.
____ นี่ ซักแห้ง เท่านั้น
____ nêe sák-hâeng tâo-nán


Sample: This dress is dry-clean only.
ชุด นี่ ซักแห้ง เท่านั้น
chút nêe sák-hâeng tâo-nán


But if you have three or more use พวกนี้ /pûak-née/ (this group) instead of นี่ /nêe/ (this).

Pattern: These ____(noun) (are) dry-clean only.
____ พวกนี้ ซักแห้ง เท่านั้น
____ pûak-née sák-hâeng tâo-nán


Sample: These dresses are dry-clean only.
ชุด พวกนี้ ซักแห้ง เท่านั้น
chút pûak-née sák-hâeng tâo-nán


Noun 1: shirt: เสื้อ /sêua/, pants: กางเกง /gaang-gayng/, dress: ชุด /chút/, evening dress: ชุดราตรี /chút-raa-dtree/, jacket: เสื้อกันหนาว /sêua-gan-năao/


Feature: To take away: เอาไป /ao-bpai/

Use these phrases when you have the item in your hand:

Take to the dry-cleaners.
เอาไป ซักแห้ง ให้ หน่อย
ao-bpai sák-hâeng hâi nòi


Take this to the dry-cleaners.
เอา นี่ ไป ซักแห้ง ให้ หน่อย
ao nêe bpai sák-hâeng hâi nòi


And this is the pattern for defining what it is (singular):

Take this ___ to the dry-cleaners.
เอา ___ นี่ ไป ซักแห้ง ให้ หน่อย
ao ___ nêe bpai sák-hâeng hâi nòi


Sample: Take this shirt to the dry-cleaners.
เอา เสื้อ นี่ ไป ซักแห้ง ให้ หน่อย
ao sêua nêe bpai sák-hâeng hâi nòi


Noun 1: shirt: เสื้อ /sêua/, pants: กางเกง /gaang-gayng/, dress: ชุด /chút/, evening dress: ชุด ราตรี /chút raa-dtree/, jacket: เสื้อ กันหนาว /sêua gan-năao/


And when you have a stack of clothes:

Take these clothes to the drycleaners.
เอา เสื้อผ้า นี่ ไป ซักแห้ง ให้ หน่อย
ao sêua-pâa nêe bpai sák-hâeng hâi nòi


Manners…

Did you notice the ให้ หน่อย /hâi nòi/ at the end of the sentence? It softens the demand from an older person to a younger person. But if your housekeeper is older than you, use the polite particle นะคะ /ná-ká/ (female) or /นะครับ /ná-kráp/ (male) instead.

ให้ has five meanings: for (to do something for someone), to give, to assign, to allow, and to become. And when ให้ /hâi/ and หน่อย /nòi/ are used together it means “for me (with a little bit of your time /energy)”, and becomes a softener.

But if your maid is older than you it’s not soft enough so end the sentence with นะคะ /ná-ká/ or นะครับ /ná-kráp/.

Sample (older): Take this dress to the dry cleaners.
เอา ชุด นี่ ไป ซักแห้ง นะคะ / นะครับ
ao chút nêe bpai sák-hâeng ná ká / ná kráp




Sample (younger): เอา ชุด นี่ ไป ซักแห้ง ให้ หน่อย
ao chút nêe bpai sák-hâeng hâi nòi


General rule of thumb: When demanding/requesting that your housekeeper do something, soften the command by using the appropriate polite particles OR soften your voice on the last syllables.

Feature: Must be: ต้อง /dtông/

This must be washed by hand.
นี่ ต้อง ซัก ด้วย มือ
nêe dtông sák dûay meu


Pattern: This ___ must be washed by hand.
___ นี่ ต้อง ซัก ด้วย มือ
___ nêe dtông sák dûay meu


Sample: This fabric must be hand washed.
ผ้า นี่ ต้อง ซัก ด้วย มือ
pâa nêe dtông sák dûay meu


Noun 2: fabric: ผ้า /pâa/, shirt: เสื้อ /sêua/, pants: กางเกง /gaang-gayng/, dress: ชุด /chút/, evening dress: ชุด ราตรี /chút raa-dtree/, jacket: เสื้อ กันหนาว /sêua gan-năao/, nightgown: ชุดนอน /chút-non/, tablecloth: ผ้าปูโต๊ะ /pâa-bpoo-dto/


Pattern: This must be ___ (verb)
นี่ ต้อง ___
nêe dtông ___


Sample: This must be washed.
นี่ ต้อง ซัก
nêe dtông sák


Pattern: This ___ (noun) must be ___ (verb)
___ นี่ ต้อง ___
___ nêe dtông ___


Sample: The jacket must be dry-cleaned.
เสื้อกันหนาว นี่ ต้อง ซักแห้ง
sêua-gan-năao nêe dtông sák-hâeng


Noun 2: fabric: ผ้า /pâa/, shirt: เสื้อ /sêua/, pants: กางเกง /gaang-gayng/, dress: ชุด /chút/, evening dress: ชุด ราตรี /chút raa-dtree/, jacket: เสื้อกันหนาว /sêua-gan-năao/, nightgown: ชุดนอน /chút-non/, tablecloth: ผ้าปูโต๊ะ /pâa-bpoo-dto/


Verb 2: washed: ซัก /sák/, hand washed: ซักมือ /sák-meu/, ironed: รีด /rêet/, washed and ironed ซัก แล้วก็ รีด /sák láew-gôr rêet/, dry-cleaned: ซักแห้ง /sák-hâeng/, mended/patched: ปะ /bpa/, repaired ซ่อม /sôm/, hung: แขวน /kwăen/, washed separately: ซัก แยก /sák yâek/, wash separated แยก ซัก /yâek sák/


You can use that pattern for all sorts of commands out of the house as well.

Feature: Do not and must: ไม่ได้ /mâi-dâi/ ต้อง /dtông/

Hang in air or sun.
แขวน ตาก ลม หรือไม่ ก็แดด
kwăen dtàak lom rĕu-mâi gôr-dàet


Do not dry in sun.
ตากแดด ไม่ได้
dtàak-dàet mâi-dâi


This cloth/clothes must hang in air or sun.
ผ้า นี่ ต้อง ตาก ลม หรือไม่ ก็ แดด
pâa nêe dtông dtàak lom rĕu-mâi gôr dàet


Pattern: This ___ must hang in air or sun.
___ นี่ ต้อง ตาก ลม หรือไม่ ก็ แดด
___ nêe dtông dtàak lom rĕu-mâi gôr dàet


Sample: This dress must hang in the air or sun.
ชุด นอน นี่ ต้อง ตาก ลม หรือไม่ ก็ แดด
chút non nêe dtông dtàak lom rĕu-mâi gôr dàet


Noun 2: fabric: ผ้า /pâa/, shirt: เสื้อ /sêua/, pants: กางเกง /gaang-gayng/, dress: ชุด /chút/, evening dress: ชุด ราตรี /chút raa-dtree/, jacket: เสื้อ กันหนาว /sêua gan-năao/, nightgown: ชุดนอน /chút-non/, tablecloth: ผ้าปูโต๊ะ /pâa-bpoo-dto/


Making sure you don’t get caught out…

As I mentioned in the HouseTalk post, Miscommunicating with Your Thai Housekeeper, the final condition of your clothing is sometimes ignored. Torn, stained and ripped clothes are washed, ironed, and then SURPRISE!

There are three main clothes issues I want my housekeeper to bring to my attention: clothes that are stained, torn/ripped, or missing buttons.

It’s missing a button.
กระดุม หาย
grà-dum hăai


It’s stained.
เป็น คราบ
bpen krâap


It’s torn/ripped.
ขาด
kàat


It’s torn/ripped.
มัน ขาด
man kàat


Adding heat to a stain sets it into the fabric so I do have rules for that too.

Feature: Do not, don’t, never: อย่า /yàa/

Do not put stained clothes in the dryer…
อย่า ใส่ ผ้า ที่ เลอะ เป็น คราบ ใน เครื่องอบ
yàa sài pâa têe lúh bpen krâap nai krêuang-òp


… bring them to me.
เอามา ให้ ฉัน / ผม
ao-maa hâi chăn / pŏm




Do not iron over stains.
อย่า รีด ทับ รอย เปื้อน
yàa rêet táp roi bpêuan


And sometimes it’s too late:

Do not put stained clothes away. Bring them to me.
อย่า เก็บ เสื้อผ้า ที่ เป็น คราบ เอามา ให้ ฉัน / ผม
yàa gèp sêua-pâa têe bpen krâap ao maa hâi chăn / pŏm




Pattern: Do not put ___ clothes away. Bring them to me.
อย่า เก็บ เสื้อผ้า ที่ ___ เอามา ให้ ฉัน / ผม
yàa gèp sêua-pâa têe ___ ao-maa hâi chăn / pŏm




Sample: Do not put ripped/torn/worn clothes away. Bring them to me.
อย่า เก็บ เสื้อผ้า ที่ ขาด เอามา ให้ ฉัน
yàa gèp sêua-pâa têe kàat ao-maa hâi chăn


Adjective 3: stained: เป็น คราบ /bpen krâap/, ripped/torn/worn: ขาด /kàat/


Bring clothes with missing buttons to me.
เอา เสื้อ ที่ กระดุม หาย มา ให้ ฉัน / ผม
ao sêua têe grà-dum hăai maa hâi chăn / pŏm




Pattern: (I) want ___ (noun) with ___ (adjective) brought to me.
เอา ___ ที่ ___ มา ให้ ฉัน / ผม
ao ___ têe ___ maa hâi chăn / pŏm




Sample: (I) want shirts with worn collars brought to me.
เอา เสื้อ ที่ ปกเสื้อ ขาด มา ให้ ฉัน
ao sêua têe bpòk-sêua kàat maa hâi chăn


Noun 5: shirt: เสื้อ /sêua/, pants: กางเกง /gaang-gayng/, dress: ชุด /chút/, evening dress: ชุด ราตรี /chút raa-dtree/, jacket: เสื้อ กันหนาว /sêua gan-năao/, nightgown: ชุดนอน /chút-non/, sheets: ผ้าปูที่นอน /pâa-bpoo-têe-non/, tablecloth: ผ้าปูโต๊ะ /pâa-bpoo-dtó/, napkins: ผ้าเช็ดปาก /pâa-chét-bpàak/, socks: ถุงเท้า /tŭng-táo/, underwear: กางเกงใน /gaang-gayng-nai/, underwear: ชุดชั้นใน /chút-chán-nai/, towels: ผ้าเช็ดตัว /pâa-chét-dtua/


Adjective 4: worn collars: ปกขาด /bpòk-kàat/, holes: เป็นรู /bpen-roo/, stains: เป็น คราบ /bpen-krâap/, rips/tears/wear: ขาด /kàat/


Special instructions…

Occasionally you will be blessed with a housekeeper who enjoys fixing things around the house: stopped drains, faulty wiring, and even clothes. It goes without saying that the polite particles should be added (apologies, I forgot).

Pattern: Please mend ___
ช่วย ปะ ___ นี่ หน่อย นะคะ / นะครับ
chûay bpà ___ nêe nòi ná-ká / ná-kráp




Sample: Please mend this jacket.
ช่วย ปะ เสื้อกันหนาว นี่ หน่อย นะคะ
chûay bpà sêua-gan-năao nêe nòi ná-ká


Noun 1: shirt: เสื้อ /sêua/, pants: กางเกง /gaang-gayng/, dress: ชุด /chút/, evening dress: ชุดราตรี /chút-raa-dtree/, jacket: เสื้อกันหนาว /sêua-gan-năao/


Sew on a button.
เย็บ กระดุม
yép gra-dum


Get the stain out.
ซัก คราบ นี้ ออก
sák krâap née òk


Then there are other times when you need to define what they shouldn’t be doing to your clothes: Adding bleach, adding starch, such as that.

Do not add starch.
อย่า ลง แป้ง
yàa long bpâeng


Do not add bleach.
อย่า ใส่ น้ำยา ซักผ้า ขาว
yàa sài náam-yaa sák-pâa kăao


The first brand of bleach to become popular in Thailand was ไฮเตอร์ /hai-dtêr/ so a Thai will often use it instead of น้ำยาซักผ้าขาว /náam-yaa-sák-pâa-kăao/. It’s the same difference as talking about getting a Xerox.

Do not add bleach.
อย่า ใส่ ไฮเตอร์
yàa sài hai-dtêr


Thai vocabulary for all things laundry…

The below downloads include the Thai script, transliteration, and sound files to the vocabulary in this post. Also included are the sound files to this post. The pdf of the post will come later (I’m rushing rushing this month).

Pdf download 438k: HouseTalk: Vocabulary for Thai laundry phrases
Sound download 2.3mg: Vocabulary for Thai laundry phrases
Sound download 4.5mg: Mostly Useful Thai Laundry Phrases

Please note: The materials are for your own personal use only.

Welcome the Thai HouseTalk series…

I started working on the HouseTalk series way back before my post, the Habits of Highly Effective Expats. As I’ve had a heap of time to think about the series, most subjects will be covered but please go ahead and make suggestions.

If you’ve ever come unstuck when communicating with the Thai help in your life, then the HouseTalk series should make it easier to get instructions across. And the way it’s written, even if you don’t know how to speak Thai, you will be able to communicate by using the downloads (sound files, instructions in both English and Thai script, stickers, and a cleaning calendar).

Connecting posts:

A special thanks for this post goes to Thai Skype teacher Khun Narisa (and everyone else I’ve bugged to tears). If you want to learn more about the patterns used in this post, please contact Khun Narisa as she’s the queen of Thai patterns! Sure, in order to create this post I play with patterns (some) but she checks my work.

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HouseTalk: Learn Basic Thai Cleaning Instructions*

HouseTalk: Learn Basic Thai Cleaning Instructions

So you have a Thai maid. Yeah! Now what?…

UPDATE: Flashcards Deluxe downloads added.

Thailand, like the majority of SE Asia, has a deeply embedded culture of employing house help. Housekeepers, cooks, gardeners, nannies and drivers are a normal part of the daily fabric of life out here.

My cherished Filipina amah in Borneo even had a maid back home. And why not?

When expats move to this region they get the opportunity to hand their cleaning chores to others. Some wobble in alarm at the wickedness of it all while others embrace the concept with broad smiles.

If you are the embracing kind who now needs to give instructions to a Thai housekeeper or cleaner, then this basic lesson on Thai cleaning phrases is for you.

In this post I bounce from charades to hand waggling while using two Thai words and more (but not in that order). All have their uses.

What washing, cleaning verbs to use with what…

The Thai language has a sort of generic word for cleaning, ทำความสะอาด /tam-kwaam-sa-àat/ (to do, make cleanliness). But beware. When a chore needs to be done a certain way, in order to avoid confusing your housekeeper you’ll either need different verbs to communicate the type of cleaning or be really good at hand waggling.


[V] Clean ทำความสะอาด /tam-kwaam-sa-àat/
Generic, not suitable for everything you’ll need.

For Thai cleaning instructions to be understood we need to declare the how, what, and sometimes the where and when. This is the ‘hand waving in the general direction’ part of the lesson. Next comes the how and what.


Sample: Clean (the) house.
ทำความสะอาด บ้าน /tam-kwaam-sà-àat bâan/

To see how it works, take the sample sentence above and replace house (บ้าน /bâan/) with the nouns below. Sound files and pdf’s for download are at the end of this post. And yes, the sample sentence structures shown in this post can be used for a lot more than cleaning a house!


house บ้าน /bâan/
office ที่ทำงาน /têe-tam-ngaan/
living room ห้องรับแขก /hông-ráp-kàek/
kitchen ห้องครัว /hông-krua/
bedroom ห้องนอน /hông-non/
bathroom ห้องน้ำ /hông-náam/
car รถ /rót/

You can instruct your housekeeper to “clean the house” or “clean the kitchen” but it leaves the finer details, the how and what, up to her. If you have a maid who can read your mind, fine. But then you wouldn’t need this post.

As above, play around with the sample sentences, verbs, and nouns listed below. But beware, some are interchangeable, some not. For instance, instructing your cleaner to wash your computer in water might not be the best of ideas (don’t laugh… it happens).


[V] Clean ล้าง /láang/
To wash with water, liquids (often by hand).


Sample: Wash (the) dishes.
ล้าง จาน /láang jaan/


dishes จาน /jaan/
fridge ตู้เย็น /dtôo-yen/
vegetables ผัก /pàk/
fruit ผลไม้ /pŏn-lá-mái/
cars รถ /rót/


[V] Clean ซัก /sák/
Wash (cloth items).


Sample: Wash (the) clothes.
ซัก เสื้อผ้า /sák sêua-pâa/


clothes เสื้อผ้า /sêua-pâa/
sheets ผ้าปูที่นอน /pâa-bpoo-têe-non/
bath towels ผ้าเช็ดตัว /pâa-chét-dtua/
carpets พรม /prom/
curtains ผ้าม่าน /pâa-mâan/
fabric furniture เฟอร์นิเจอร์ ที่ เป็น ผ้า /fer-ní-jer têe bpen pâa/

Note: Not all washing verbs are for the home:
wash (body) อาบ /àap/
wash (hair on head) สระ /sà/

On to even more cleaning verbs…

Now that we’ve gotten the washing out of the way let’s get to the rest of the chores. Some anyway. Not all are listed (the series will deal with those later) but I’ve included enough to get you started.


[V] Dust ปัดฝุ่น /bpàt-fùn/


Sample: Dust (the) coffee table.
ปัดฝุ่น โต๊ะกาแฟ /bpàt-fùn dtó-gaa-fae/


Coffee table โต๊ะกาแฟ /dtó-gaa-fae/
Wooden furniture เฟอร์นิเจอร์ ไม้ /fer-ní-jer mái/
Bookshelves หิ้งหนังสือ /hîng-năng-sĕu/


[V] Mop ถู /tŏo/
To mop/wipe repeatedly with cloth or mop.


Sample: Mop (the) floor.
ถู พื้น /tŏo péun/


floor พื้น /péun/
corridor โถงทางเข้า /tŏhng-taang-kâo/


[V] Wipe (clean) เช็ด /chét/
Wipe by hand with or without fluids (water, Windex, etc).


Sample: Clean (the) windows.
เช็ด หน้าต่าง /chét nâa-dtàang/


Windows หน้าต่าง /nâa-dtàang/
Mirror กระจก /grà-jòk/
Coffee table โต๊ะกาแฟ /dto-gaa-fae/
Counter top เคาน์เตอร์ ใน ครัว /kao-dtêr nai krua/
Kitchen table โต๊ะกินข้าว ใน ห้องครัว /dtó-gin-kâao nai hông-krua/


[V] Vacuum ดูดฝุ่น /dòot-fùn/


Sample: Vacuum (the) rug.
ดูดฝุ่น พรม /dòot-fùn prom/


rug พรม /prom/
sofa โซฟา /soh-faa/
sofa เก้าอี้ยาว /gâo-êe-yaao/


[V] Scrub, polish ขัด /kàt/
Scrub, polish (any tough dirt, items that need polishing).


Sample: Scrub (the) bathroom tiles.
ขัด กระเบื้องห้องน้ำ /kàt grà-bêuang hông-náam/


bathroom tiles กระเบื้อง ห้องน้ำ /grà-bêuang hông-náam/
shoes รองเท้า /rong-táo/
silver เครื่องเงิน /krêuang-ngern/

Basic cleaning instructions…

When an item (like doors, windows, beds and such) appears in several places around the house then you’ll need to either physically take your housekeeper to the room or say which room it’s in.

So if you want your housekeeper to dust the bookshelves in the living room you would say:


Dust bookshelves in (the) living room.
ปัดฝุ่น หิ้งหนังสือ ใน ห้องรับแขก
bpàt-fùn hîng-năng-sĕu nai hông-ráp-kàek

You can also use the below arrangement:


Dust (the) living room bookshelves.
ปัดฝุ่น หิ้งหนังสือ ห้องรับแขก
bpàt-fùn hîng-năng-sĕu hông-ráp-kàek

Below are the basic rooms in a house:


Kitchen ห้องครัว /hông-krua/
Living room ห้องรับแขก /hông-ráp-kàek/
Bedroom ห้องนอน /hông-non/
Bathroom ห้องน้ำ /hông-náam/

Note: There are too many household items to list here but in later posts there will be a vocabulary file with sound for you to download.

Defining the when in Thai sentences…

The timing of chores can be as equally as important as the what and where. Like, if I’m still in PJ’s when the housekeeper arrives and want to jump in the shower asap I use this phrase:


Clean (the) bathroom later.
ทำความสะอาด ห้องน้ำ ทีหลัง
tam-kwaam-sà-àat hông-náam tee-lăng

Or, because water is used I can also say it this way:


Clean/wash (the) bathroom later.
ล้าง ห้องน้ำ ทีหลัง
láang hông-náam tee-lăng

Here are a variety of words denoting time:


Today วันนี้ /wan-née/
Everyday ทุกวัน /túk-wan/
Now ตอนนี้ /dton-née/


Once a week อาทิตย์ ละ ครั้ง /aa-tít lá kráng/
Once a month เดือน ละ ครั้ง /deuan lá kráng/
First ก่อน /gòn/
Later ทีหลัง /tee-lăng/

Using today, everyday, and now in front of a sentence puts the emphasis on the time. Today, everyday, and now, shown in first grouping above, can be used both at the front and the end of a sentence. The second grouping cannot be used in the front of a sentence without changing the meaning.

Sentence structures to play around with:


Clean (the) bathroom today.
ทำความสะอาด ห้องน้ำ วันนี้
tam-kwaam-sà-àat hông-náam wan-née

Or


Today clean (the) bathroom.
วันนี้ ทำความสะอาด ห้องน้ำ
wan-née tam-kwaam-sà-àat hông-náam

Going from charades to using actual Thai phrases…

Without knowing a lick of Thai you can communicate by using a combination of charades and cleaning materials. I know because I did a lot of arm waving before introducing McDonalds into the equation (a long story and one I might get to later).

What you do is physically take the maid and the needed cleaning materials to the item needing cleaning, and then go through the motions. If she is still perplexed (or overcome by the giggles even) you might want/need to show how the actual chore is done.

The next step up from charades uses just two words of Thai. You say “clean this” while pointing at the item. They might become confused and maybe not.


Clean this.
ทำความสะอาด นี่
tam-kwaam-sà-àat nêe

Going that route leaves the method up to personal interpretation (a potential disaster), so even better is waggling the cleaning materials towards your maid (Windex, mop, whatever) with one hand while pointing to the item you need cleaned (windows, floors, whatever) with the other as you attempt those magic two words. Good luck.

If you know the right verb but you don’t know the name of what you want cleaned, you can resort to pointing at the item while saying the verb plus นี่ /nêe/ (this).


Wash this. ล้าง นี่ /láang nêe/
Wash this. ซัก นี่ /sák nêe/
Dust this. ปัดฝุ่น นี่ /bpàt-fùn nêe/
Mop, wipe this. ถู นี่ /tŏo nêe/
Wipe this. เช็ด นี่ /chét nêe/
Vacuum this. ดูดฝุ่น นี่ /dòot-fùn nêe/
Scrub, polish this. ขัด นี่ /kàt nêe/

Tip: If you don’t remember the difference between ล้าง /láang/and ซัก /sák/, or ถู /tŏo/ and เช็ด /chét/ then scroll back up to double-check.

Spreading a little Thai kindness…

A basic post on communicating with your Thai housekeeper is not complete without mentioning manners.

Thais, for the most part, lean towards the polite. If you read my เกรงใจ /kreng jai/ post you’ll sort of understand why.

In the case of giving instructions, softening direct orders with kindness is just a sweet way to go. Please note that I’m not saying to do this every time but peppering demands with niceties does give a polite Thai touch.

When you need to get the attention of your housekeeper begin conversations with ขอโทษ ค่ะ /kŏr-tôht kâ/ (excuse me) if you are a female, and ขอโทษ ครับ /kŏr-tôht kráp/ if male.

Adding a ขอบคุณ /kòp-kun/ when a thank you is due is no different than in the west.

Again with the peppering (no need to grovel by overkill), to soften instructions end sentences with นะคะ /na-ká/ if you are female and นะครับ /na-kráp/ if you are male.


Excuse me ขอโทษ /kŏr-tôht/
Thank you ขอบคุณ /kòp kun/
Polite particle female ค่ะ /kâ/
Polite particle male ครับ /kráp/
Conformation particle female นะคะ /na-ká/
Conformation particle male นะครับ /na-kráp/


Clean (the) bathroom later. Ok?
ทำความสะอาด ห้องน้ำ ทีหลัง นะคะ
tam-kwaam-sà-àat hông-náam tee-lăng na-ká

I just love the sound นะคะ /na-ká/ makes tripping off the tongue. Don’t you? Oh, and while I have you here. No, you do not ไหว้ /wâi/ your Thai maid.

Downloads: Basic Thai cleaning instructions…

The below downloads include the Thai script, transliteration, and sound files to the phrases and vocabulary in this post. Newly added are Excel spreadsheets for Flashcards Deluxe. The spreadsheets should also work for Anki.

Flashcards Deluxe is an incredibly easy app created in both Android and iOS. For instructions, go to the Flashcards Deluxe website.

Pdf download 3.9mg: HouseTalk: Learn Basic Thai Cleaning Instructions
Sound download 2.1mg: Learn Basic Thai Cleaning Instructions
Flashcards Deluxe download 1.5mg: Basic Thai Cleaning Instructions

Please note: The materials are for your own personal use only.

The Thai HouseTalk series…

Next I’m going to concentrate on cleaning clothes. And the instructions give should help you to avoid those awkward moments known to expats everywhere.

Connecting posts:

Disclaimer: When compiling the HouseTalk posts I run the Thai phrases and vocabulary through Thai Skype teacher Khun Narisa. But when I code the posts I often tweak a little. So what I’m saying is that snafus are all mine and will be dealt with as such.

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HouseTalk: Kinship Terms for Thai Housekeepers and more

Kinship Terms for Thai Housekeepers and more

Kinship terms for Thai housekeepers, nannies, drivers, and more…

In the last post, What Do You Call Your Thai Housekeeper?, we learned about alternative names for maids in Thailand. During the research, Sarawan (The Parent Vine – no longer online) and I engaged in a discussion about the different terms used for not only housekeepers but drivers, cooks, and nannies.

Sarawan, whose mother is Thai, is raising an Australian-American-Thai baby in Bangkok. And because she grew up with an extended Thai family, Sarawan is familiar with who gets named what in the modern Thai world.

But being American raised, Sarawan continues to come across nuances important for understanding Thai relationships. And when Sarawan pointed out a peculiarity (below), we both set out to discover more.

I asked my mother how she would refer to household staff at my grandmother’s house and she confirmed what Rikker and Kaewmala said about สาวใช้ /săao-chái/ and คนใช้ /kon-chái/. She said she would call them เด็กที่บ้าน /dèk-têe-bâan/ – child of the house, but then sternly told me not to try that myself – this is reserved for older people (say, over 50) when referring to younger staff (say, under 30).

I asked if it was patronizing to call them เด็ก /dèk/. After thinking about it, she told me that it was just neutral, like saying “the people at our house”, but older people get referred to specifically by title.

Here are a few she mentioned:

คนเลี้ยงเด็ก /kon-líang-dèk/ is an alternative to พี่เลี้ยง /pêe-líang/ (nanny).

A cook is แม่ครัว /mâe-krua/ (mother of the kitchen) or พ่อครัว /pôr-krua/ (father of the kitchen).

A driver is คนขับรถ /kon-kàp-rót/ (person who drives the car).

When addressing someone in person, I always used to fall back on using kinship terms like พี่ /pêe/ (older person), น้า /náa/ (aunt) and ลุง /lung/ (uncle) etc., to refer to maids, taxi drivers, etc.

It was recently explained me that we always use kinship terms from the mother’s family (I had never thought about it before). So in our apartment building, my daughter refers to her พี่เลี้ยง /pêe-líang/ as พี่จ๊ะ /pêe-já/, to older maids in the building as ป้า /bpâa/, and one who’s quite a bit older, as ยาย ทูม /yaai toom/ Grandmother Toom (Toom is her name). Or rather – since my daughter is not really talking yet – this is how the various maids and housekeepers have decided amongst themselves that she should refer to them.

The handymen and guards in the building are all called ลุง /lung/ (Older Uncle) since they’re mostly older than me (or at least they want to flatter me by claiming to be).

As someone with a more farang mindset, I always preferred addressing people like this myself, because it is familiar yet adds respect. I remember the shock I felt when I hired my current maid (now nanny), and started to call her พี่ /pêe/, and then realized that she probably WASN’T my พี่ /pêe/. I really didn’t know where to go from there. I now use คุณ /khun/, even though I know that most Thais wouldn’t necessarily do the same. It feels formal and wrong to me though, and I miss having a more casual but correct way to address her. But I think I just have to flounder through this awkward stage until I am granny-aged and can basically call anyone whatever I want.

Anyhow, I find it fascinating how kinship terms soften the social stratification, while at the same time preserving distinctions. And I find it fascinating that it’s the mother’s family terminology that is used, not the father’s.

Why Thais use the mother’s terminology in the household…

In the English language, terms for grandfather, grandmother, uncle and aunt are interchangeable on both sides of the family. But most (not all) Thai kinship terms denote what side of the family the person is on (mother or father), as well as age (older or younger).

The mother’s side of the family:

Mother แม่ /mâe/
Grandmother ยาย /yaai/
Grandfather ตา /dtaa/
Uncle (mother’s elder brother) ลุง /lung/
Uncle (mother’s younger brother) น้า /náa/
Aunt (mother’s older sister) ป้า /bpâa/
Aunt (mother’s younger sister) น้า /náa/

The father’s side of the family:

Father พ่อ /pôr/
Grandmother ย่า /yâa/
Grandfather ปู่ /bpòo/
Uncle (father’s older brother) ลุง /lung/
Uncle (father’s younger brother) อา /aa/
Aunt (father’s older sister) ป้า /bpâa/
Aunt (father’s younger sister) อา /aa/

When Sarawan brought up the curious use of the mother’s terminology when naming servants, I asked Skype teacher Khun Narisa to please explain it to me.

Khun Narisa took the opportunity to teach me an old Thai saying:

คนไทย แต่ง เข้า, คนจีน แต่ง ออก
kon-tai dtàeng kâo, kon jeen dtàeng òok
Thai people marry, entre. Chinese people marry, exit.

Note: แต่ง /dtàeng/ is the shortened version of แต่งงาน /dtàeng ngaan/, to get married.

And to understand the cloudy (to me) point being made, Khun Narisa enlarged on the subject by sharing several more sentences with the same meaning:

Thai people marry, entre: When Thai people get married they want the son-in-law to move in.
คนไทย แต่ง เข้า – คนไทย แต่งงาน แล้ว เอา ลูกเขย เข้า บ้าน
kon-tai dtàeng kâo – kon tai dtàeng-ngaan láew ao lôok-kŏie kâo bâan

Thai people marry, then have the son-in-law move in.
คนไทย แต่ง แล้ว ให้ ลูกเขย เข้า บ้าน
kon-tai dtàeng láew hâi lôok-kŏie kâo bâan

Chinese people marry, exit: When Chinese marry they must have their daughters out of the house.
คนจีน แต่ง ออก – คนจีน ถ้า ลูกสาว แต่งงาน แล้ว ต้อง ออกจาก บ้าน
kon jeen dtàeng òk – kon-jeen tâa lôok-săao dtàeng-ngaan láew dtông òk-jàak bâan

Chinese people marry, then have the daughter move out.
คนจีน แต่ง แล้ว ให้ ลูกสาว ออกจาก บ้าน
kon-jeen dtàeng láew hâi lôok-săao òk-jàak bâan

The logic here is that Thai people feel the need for the son-in-law to move in because he can then help on the farm (it also assures that he does not beat their daughter). But the Chinese people want the daughter-in-law to move in to take care of the housekeeping and help in the family business.

Traditionally in Thailand, living with multiple generations in one household is common. So in a typical Thai household it’s quite possible to have the newlyweds, the brides’ mother and father, the brides’ grandparents and even great grandparents, the brides’ sisters with their kids and husbands, and sometimes the brides’ unmarried uncles.

And with the son-in-law moving into his wife’s family home, Thai family units are/were often had a high concentration of the female side of the family. And even though the traditional ways of Thai life are being replaced by modern living, using family terms from the mother’s side is upheld even today.

So there you have it – the reason for the use of female kinship terms for Thai servants.

But I’m not done yet… in my research I came across a theory that is quiet fun. I’m not sure how true it is (Khun Narisa says that Thai newlyweds were not commonly given such a choice), but here we go:

Paraphrasing: If Thai a bridegroom moves his new wife in with his mother there will be fights and disharmony between the two women. But if he moves in with his new mother-in-law she’ll spoil him like she does her own son. Sweet!

Thai vocabulary: Terms for your Thai house help…

แม่บ้าน /mâe-bâan/
Housekeeper (house mother)

เมด /mâyt/
Housekeeper, maid

คน ช่วย ทำงานบ้าน /kon chûay tam-ngaan-bâan/
Person who helps with housework

พี่เลี้ยง /pêe-líang/
Nanny or au pair

คนเลี้ยงเด็ก /kon-líang-dèk/
Nanny or au pair

แม่ครัว /mâe-krua/
Female cook

พ่อครัว /pôr-krua/
Male cook

คนขับรถ /kon-kàp-rót/
Driver

แม่ /mâe/
Mother

ยาย /yaai/
Grandmother

ตา /dtaa/
Grandfather

ลุง /lung/
Uncle (mother’s elder brother)

น้า /náa/
Uncle (mother’s younger brother)

ป้า /bpâa/
Aunt (mother’s older sister)

น้า /náa/
Aunt (mother’s younger sister)

พี่ /pêe/
Used when talking to someone older

น้อง /nóng/
Used when talking to someone younger

So, what are your thoughts on Thai kinship terms?

Downloads: Kinship terms for Thai housekeepers, nannies, drivers…

The below downloads include the Thai script, transliteration, and sound files to the above vocabulary. Sound files for the male kinship terms are there too.

Pdf download 1.6mg: Kinship Terms for Thai Housekeepers and More
Sound download 680kb: Kinship Terms for Thai Housekeepers and More

Please note: The materials are for your own personal use only.

The Thai HouseTalk series…

Next we are going to launch into the meat of the series with the basic cleaning instructions needed to communicate with your Thai maid (housekeeper, cleaner, mâe-bâan, Khun Gung, whatever you’ve finally decided).

Connecting posts:

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HouseTalk: What Do You Call Your Thai Housekeeper?

HouseTalk What Do You Call Your Thai Housekeeper?

What do you call your maid?…

When I lived in Japan I was just a short bit of stuff. It was too long ago to remember what our maid was called so I asked someone who would know: Tony Joh from thai-faq.com. Tony informed me that maid in Japanese is either ote or kaseifu. Nice to know.

Then when I moved back to a western country the person who cleaned my house was called a maid and a cleaner took care of the office. Similar duties, different titles.

But when I moved to the island of Borneo the job description used by both locals and expats changed to Amah. And from what I’ve read, Amah is the Cantonese word for mother, wet nurse, or surrogate mother. Apparently British expats spread it throughout the region, hence its usage in Borneo.

I’ve long since moved from the west and in that time a politically correct society has emerged. Garbage collectors became sanitation engineers (or has that changed) and maids also went for a name change.

So maid was turfed out and housekeeper (executive housekeeper even), house help, domestic help, and cleaner were brought in as the PC words to use. It’s a pity really, because maid is shorter (and I personally hold no ill will towards the title).

So what do you call your Thai maid?…

Now that I’m living in Thailand discovering what to call a Thai maid was needed so I asked Kaewmala (Thai Women Talks) and Rikker (Thai 101). Kaewmala ran me through the possibilities, both former and present. The former goes first:

สาวใช้ /săao-chái/
Girl who is used

คนใช้ /kon-chái/
Person who is used

In Kaewmala’s mindset both are pejorative (contemptuous). Rikker agreed, stating that คนใช้ /kon-chái/ and สาวใช้ /săao-chái/ are now comparable to ‘servant’ vs ‘domestic worker’ in English.

Rikker went on to say that while the meanings haven’t really changed, the connotations have. They both imply a lack of free will. Not slavery, but not too far from it.

Paraphrasing Rikker: ‘used’ has more negative connotations in English than in Thai but the verb ใช้ /chái/ (used) is still common. For example, ใช้ ไป ซื้อ /chái bpai séu/ means ‘to send to buy’ (something) and sending someone to the market to buy something doesn’t imply negative intentions. The verb ‘to serve’ is รับใช้ /ráp-chái/. And true or not, a politician often announces that he serves the public: รับใช้ ประชา ชน /ráp-chái bprà-chaa chon/.

รับใช้ /ráp-chái/
To serve

ใช้ ไป ซื้อ /chái bpai séu/
To send (someone) to buy

Getting back to labeling your Thai maid…

Kaewmala brought up that คน ช่วย ทำงานบ้าน /kon chûay tam-ngaan-bâan/ (the person who helps with the housework) is the proper description but it’s much too much whereas แม่บ้าน /mâe-bâan/ (house mother) is just right. And both mâe-bâan and Ahma hark back to our mothers. Makes sense.

คน ช่วย ทำงานบ้าน /kon chûay tam-ngaan-bâan/
Person who helps with the housework

แม่บ้าน /mâe-bâan/
Housekeeper (house mother)

Rikker ended by saying that the English pronunciation of ‘maid’ is also used in Thailand. It’s spelt เมด /mâyt/ but pronounced เหมด. So… do we still get to use maid?

เมด /mâyt/
Housekeeper

In Thailand, what you call your maid is a family matter…

The above terms are mostly used to refer to the jobs people do, not the actual names you’d call your housekeeper/maid. For instance, even though it’s formal I pair my housekeeper’s nickname with คุณ /kun/ to get คุณกุ้ง /kun gûng/.

That’s right. If you are familiar with Thailand then you’ll already know that in polite Thai you use คุณ /kun/. It’s sort of like saying Mr or Mrs (and I’m just courteous that way).

It’s also common to use kinship terms in reference to the hired and sometimes inherited help.

Rikker’s domestic is called a พี่เลี้ยง /pêe-líang/ but that’s because she insists on the title of nanny. In reality, she does more housework than childcare so perhaps she feels that a แม่บ้าน /mâe-bâan/ has lower status than a พี่เลี้ยง /pêe-líang/? Does anyone know who holds the higher rank on the Thai homefront?

พี่เลี้ยง /pêe-líang/
Nanny

Rikker’s young daughter calls her nanny น้า /náa/ but if the nanny were of the older persuasion she just might be called ป้า /bpâa/ instead.

น้า /náa/
Mother’s younger sister

ป้า /bpâa/
Aunt, elder sister of parents

So go ahead and tell me. Please. Are you even mildly confused yet?

Downloads: What do you call your Thai housekeeper…

As I mentioned in the introduction post, Miscommunicating with Your Thai Housekeeper, the HouseTalk series will include downloads. Amongst the files will be sounds, Thai script and transliteration. The sound folder will include sound files only, and when I can keep the files to a reasonable size the pdfs will have the sounds linked in.

Pdf download 1.5mg: What do you call your Thai maid?
Sound download 381kb: What do you call your Thai maid?

Please note: The materials are for your own personal use only.

The Thai HouseTalk series…

Before we launch into Thai phrases we’ll visit even more kinship terms used with the household staff in Thailand. It’s quite the interesting subject and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did researching, writing, and discussing it.

Connecting posts:

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HouseTalk: Miscommunicating with Your Thai Housekeeper

HouseTalk Miscommunicating with your Thai housekeeper

Miscommunicating with your Thai housekeeper…

Have you been to your High Commission or Embassy lately? I have. I won’t say it was a treat, but it was certainly an eyebrow raiser.

Did you happen to notice their counter windows? You know, the ones similar to those found in banks? The windows work the same but in lieu of money being the main aim, paperwork is slid through the narrow slots instead.

During my latest visit I started wondering why we lean down to talk through that small hole. I mean, there’s a mic, right? And a mic is totally capable of carrying our voice to other side of the glass. Right?

So, why?

Anyway, there I sat, watching and waiting for my number to come up. People would walk up to those windows, put their elbows on the counter, and then lean down to talk through the space at the bottom of the window.

Curious.

An hour into my morning two men walked up to take their turns. Both were grown men, not lads, not boys. The tall, largish (but not lardish) male slipped his paperwork through the slot and then leaned down to answer a question.

Just like those who went before, each time the gal behind the counter spoke, he leaned.

She spoke, he leaned. Trying to stifle a laugh, I buried my head in my book.

She spoke a lot. And in tandem, he leaned a lot as well.

Whooh. I’m sitting in the front with a great view and it was much too much of a visual for me.

You see, just like his buddy he’s dressed in a bright yellow shirt (not tucked in), with tan Bermuda shorts beneath.

The difference is, his baggy shorts are split from cheek to cheek. Horizontally. The full width of his cheeks. Bare cheeks at that. And at my eye level.

From the growing noise in the room, his cheeks are within eyeshot of others in the room as well.

So she speaks. He leans. We all get a broad peek.

The tittering throughout the room was not too loud. No. It’s just too familiar. Too close to home.

As expats we’ve all been there, done that. And didn’t enjoy the party. But I doubt that any one of us held such a captive, attentive audience as this. And for so long.

Learn how to communicate in Thai, or…

Expats living in countries like Thailand, where help is cheap, often experience the snafus that come with having maids/housekeepers/cleaners in their homes. Along with a lack of training on both sides (employer and employee), the failure to communicate is often the cause. Because without proper instructions clothes can be washed, dried, ironed, and put away without comment.

When this happens it doesn’t seem to matter if a button is missing, or if the whites were washed with the reds, or if there’s a tear in a shirt (or in his case, a pair of Bermudas), clean clothes are neatly put away on hangers and in drawers. Finish.

Finish for the house help anyway. It starts for you when you look down to find that a healthy expanse of plump cleavage is laid bare or a rip is flapping along one side of your torso. Or worse.

And if asked for a show of hands, I’m sure that at least twenty percent the expat males I know would admit to wearing pink or lime green underwear in the past year.

So yes, we all sympathized with his predicament. Running late he grabbed from his top drawer and out the door he went. To us. What a treat.

Welcome the Thai HouseTalk series…

I started working on the HouseTalk series way back before my post, the Habits of Highly Effective Expats. As I’ve had a heap of time to think about the series, most subjects will be covered but please go ahead and make suggestions.

If you’ve ever come unstuck when communicating with the Thai help in your life, then the HouseTalk series should make it easier to get instructions across. And the way it’s written, even if you don’t know how to speak Thai, you will be able to communicate by using the downloads (sound files, instructions in both English and Thai script, stickers, and a cleaning calendar).

Connecting posts:

Yes, there will be more… how to hire a Thai maid, how to set house rules, how to gently fire a Thai maid without having to move. Such as that.

So what happened in the end?…

Well, before my number came up, back they both came. Opting to stand instead of sit, they leaned against the wall at the front of the room. And out of the corners of our eyes, the rest of us watched while we waited as well.

So we all waited together. Some in transfixed anticipation.

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