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Thai Language Thai Culture: At the Supermarket

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Supermarkets in Thailand…

If you are going to live in Thailand, one of the things you will find yourself doing is food shopping. When I first came to Thailand there were no such things as supermarkets. Now they are as ubiquitous as Thailand’s outdoor markets. They may not be as much fun or as exciting as the outdoor kind, but supermarkets are cleaner, and air conditioned. So, except for the small stuff, that is where we usually shop.

As a primer on supermarket shopping here are some vocabulary words that will help on your next outing. We’ll also make some short sentences to put the words into context. General food categories are listed; as you get hungry you will learn specific food names rather quickly.

Supermarket: ซูเปอร์มาร์เก็ต /súp-bpêr-maa-gét/

Note: In some parts of the kingdom, namely Bangkok, the shortened form ซูเปอร์ /súp-bpêr/ is sometimes used. I haven’t heard it in Chiang Mai yet though. Let us know if it is in use in your neck of the woods.

The following are general categories of food…

Food(s): อาหาร /aa-hǎan/

Baked goods: อาหารประเภทอบ /aa-hǎan bprà~pâyt òp/Thai Language
Beverage: เครื่องดื่ม /krêuang-dèum/
Bread: ขนมปัง /kà~nǒm-bpang/
Frozen food: อาหารแช่แข็ง /aa-hǎan châe-kǎeng/
Fresh vegetables: ผักสด /pàk sòt/
Fruit: ผลไม้ /pǒn-lá~máai/
Meat: เนื้อ /néua/
Milk or dairy: นม /nom/
Seafood: อาหารทะเล /aa-hǎan-tá~lay/
Snacks: ของว่าง /kǒng-wâang/

Departments or sections in a supermarket…

Department: แผนก /pà~nàek/

Bakery department: แผนกประเภทอบ /pà~nàek bprà~pâyt òp/
Bakery or bread department: แผนกขนมปัง /pà~nàek kà~nǒm-bpang/
Dairy department: แผนกผลิตภัณฑ์ นม /pà~nàek pà~lìt-dtà~pan nom/
Frozen foods department: แผนกอาหารแช่แข็ง /pà~nàek aa-hǎan-châe-kǎeng
Fruit department: แผนกผลไม้ /pà~nàek pǒn-lá~máai/
Meat department: แผนกเนื้อ /pà~nàek néua/
Produce (vegetable) department: แผนกผักสด /pà~nàek pàk sòt/
Seafood department: แผนกอาหารทะเล /pà~nàek aa-hǎan-tá~lay/

Things you might find in a supermarket…

Aisle: ช่อง /chông/
Aisle: ทางเดิน(ระหว่างชั้นวางของ) /taang-dern (rá~wàang chán waang kǒng)/
Bag (paper, plastic): ถุง (กระดาษ, พลาสติก) /tǔng (grà~dàat, pláat-sà~dtìk)/
Can: กระป๋อง /grà~bpǒng/
Cashier: แคชเชียร์ /ká chia/
Cashier: พนักงานเก็บเงิน /pá~nák-ngaan gèp-ngern/
Manager: ผู้จัดการ /pôo-jàt-gaan/
Queue, line, checkout line: คิว /kiw/
Shopping cart: รถเข็น /rót-kěn/

Supermarket words in context…

ช่วยซื้อเป๊ปซี่กระป๋องหนึ่งโหล
chûay séu bp-sêe grà-bpŏng nèung lŏh
Please get a dozen cans of Pepsi.Thai Language

ซื้ออาหารว่างและเครื่องดื่มเถิด
séu aa-hăan wâang láe krêuang-dèum tèrt
Let’s get some snacks and drinks.

ไอศครีมอยู่ในแผนกอาหารแช่แข็ง
ai-sòk-reem yòo nai pà-nàek aa-hăan châe kǎeng
Ice cream is in the frozen foods department.

ฉันต้องการซื้อขนมปัง
chăn dtông gaan séu kà-nŏm bpang
I need to buy some bread.

เธอซื้อมะเขือเทศในแผนกผักสด
ter séu má-kĕua tâyt nai pà-nàek pàk sòt
She is buying tomatoes in the produce department.

ซุปเปอร์มาร์เก็ตนี้มีแผนกเนื้อดี
súp-bper-maa-gèt née mee pà-nàek néua dee
This supermarket has a good meat department.

อาหารทะเลอยู่ในช่องแรก
aa-hăan tá-lay yòo nai chông râek
The seafood is in the first aisle.

เขาไม่ชอบผัก แต่เขาชอบเนื้อ
kăo mâi chôp pàk dtàe kăo chôp néua
He doesn’t like vegetables but he loves meat.

คิวนั้นยาว
Kiw nán yaao
That’s a long checkout line.

เธอจ่ายแคชเชียร์
ter jàai kâet-chia
She paid the cashier.

For more on shopping in Thailand take a look at one of my recent blog entries: You can get anything you want.

Hugh’s fun Thai word for the month…

Compensate, reimburse, repay [v] [adj]: ชดเชย /chót-chəəi/

This is another of those Thai words with really difficult vowel sounds, especially the second word. But what makes this word fun is not the dictionary meaning but the way you will probably hear it used the most often. It is used when a holiday occurs on a weekend and they push the day off to Monday. That Monday day off is called วันหยุดชดเชย /wan-yùt chót-chəəi/ or literally, “a repaid day off”. Just don’t schedule a Monday tee time at the golf course on a วันหยุดชดเชย or you may have to deal with long lines – just like I did on Monday January 3rd.

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
eBooks in Thailand

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Hugh Leong loves explaining things. And during his 40 plus years of trying to learn Thai and its culture, he learned to love the cross-cultural aspect of living in a foreign country and speaking its language. His series, Thai Language Thai Culture, covers various aspects of learning Thai, and how the Thai culture influences how we say things.

13 Comments

  1. Thanks for the lesson on Thai supermarket words. I have a quick question – is the first vowel in word ‘supermarket’ spelled with a long u or a short u? The long u is used at head of the article but the spelling in one of the example sentences uses a short u. The romanization in each case suggests that the short u is used.

    Another suggestion would be to include the entire article written in Thai as an addendum to the article in English. It would be instructive to see how express the ideas in the article in Thai

  2. Good post Catherine, I’ll be printing this off and adding it to my folder. On my Thailand holidays I do find myself in supermarkets from time to time so the list of words will be useful. It might be handy if you could re-edit and include the following supermarket phrases for some of your male readers:

    I’m off outside for a smoke.

    There’s not room in the trolley for face cream I’ve got to get a box of beer in there yet.

    Excuse me madam (sir). I’ve lost my wife, she’s in here somewhere. She’s got black hair and dark skin, have you seen her.

    Oh….there’s two people in the checkout queue, lets put everything back and come another day.

  3. Yedian,

    The Thai word ซูเปอร์มาร์เก็ต /súp-bpêr-maa-gét/, even though it has been borrowed from English it is now a Thai word, is spelled with a long “u” – pronounced “soooo-per market”. But since it is a loan word the pronunciations may vary but it should be spelled with a long “u”.(As my sons would say as an apology for making a mistake, “My bad.”)

    I would love to be able to write the articles in Thai but although I read Thai okay I try not to write more than the one sentence or so that I use as examples. I’ll leave that up to native speakers. In fact, next month, my publisher, Silkworm Books, will be publishing a book I wrote whose English title is “Going to America – A Survival Guide for Thais Moving to the United States”. I wrote it in English but my publisher thought it would sell best if it were written in Thai, our target audience. So we got a really good translator and she did a great job. Here is how she translated the title, ไปอเมริกา – จาก ก.ไก่ ถึง ฮ.นกฮูก (คู่มือสำหรับคนไทยที่จะไปอยู่อเมริกา). I love the translated title. So, I think it is best to leave the Thai writing to the experts.

  4. Martyn,

    Okay, I know you are kidding but I love a challenge. So here is a try at translating your male-oriented sentences. Hope they prove useful to you.

    I’m off outside for a smoke.
    จะไปสูบบุหรี่ข้างนอก
    /jà bpai sòop bùrèe kâang nôk/

    There’s not room in the trolley for face cream I’ve got to get a box of beer in there yet.
    รถเข็นไม่มีที่ว่างเพื่อจะใส่ครีมหน้า ผมยังไม่ได้ซื้อกล่องเบียร์
    /rót kĕn mâi mee têe wâang pêua jà sài kreem nâa pŏm yang mâi dâi séu glòng bia/

    Excuse me madam (sir). I’ve lost my wife, she’s in here somewhere. She’s got black hair and dark skin, have you seen her.
    ขอโทษ ภรรยาของฉันหายไป เธอมีผมสีดำและผิวดำ คุณเห็นเธอไม่ครับ
    /kŏr toht pan-rá-yaa kŏng chăn hăai bpai ter mee pŏm sĕe dam láe pĭw dam kun hĕn ter mâi kráp/

    Oh….there’s two people in the checkout queue, lets put everything back and come another day.
    โอ่ คิวยาวสองคนแล้ว คืนทุกอย่างและกลับมาวันอื่นเถอะ
    /òh kiw yaao sŏng kon láew keun túk-yàang láe glàp maa wan èun tùh/

  5. Cat, excellent post and will definitely come in handy just not in my regular market as everyone speaks English well and everything is labeled in English.

    Martyn and Hugh…you just made my day…hilarious stuff.

  6. Talen,

    I don’t let someone’s ability to speak English take away from an opportunity to practice my Thai. Here are a couple of sentences I have used that have opened up lots of chances to get my practice in.

    Please allow me to speak Thai. I need the practice.
    ขอพูดภาษาไทยหน่อย ฉันต้องหัดพูด
    /kŏr pôot paa-săa tai nòi chăn dtông hàt pôot/

    It is amazing how many people will try to help you.

    Have fun.

  7. Hugh thanks for the information I’ll print them off too. I can then hand Wilai a note instead of telling her I’m going outside for a cigarette.

    I hate supermarket shopping, I really do.

  8. Hugh,

    That’s a real gem … ขอบคุณมากครับ

    Folks learning a new language greatly benefit from having a “massive amount of comprehensible input”. I understand your wanting to leave the Thai writing up to native Thai speakers. However, one of challenges I face as beginner in Thai is locating interesting reading material which uses a beginners or even low intermediate vocabulary. I would love to find the Thai equivalent of VOA Special English. There about 1600 Thai words in the combined word lists found in Becker’s ‘Thai for Beginners’ and Kesavatana-Dohrs ‘Everyday Thai for Beginners’. The VOA Special English website is built around a vocabulary of about 1750 words. They publish interesting new material every weekday and provide recordings to boot.

    One would think that Thai kids books would be place to start in looking for comprehensible Thai reading material for beginners, but sadly, that’s not the case. Take, for instance, the story part of Maanee Reader Grade 2, Lesson 1. 20% of the vocabulary in that story is outside the vocabulary found in Thai beginners books. Advance to Lesson 2 and vocabulary outside the beginners books reaches 33%. That leaves the beginner with a heap of dictionary work to do before they can understand what’s being said in those stories. Suggestions on where to look for comprehensible reading material for Thai beginners would be greatly appreciated.

  9. Hugh, ขอพูดภาษาไทยหน่อย ฉันต้องหัดพูด is an excellent sentence to know.

    Awhile back I thought about having a big button saying similar would be helpful too. Or just something to point out that this is a Thai learner, so speak slow, speak simple, but please speak Thai!

    Btw all – Hugh is the author of all of these wonderful Thai Language Thai Culture posts with Buddha in the banner. And if you click on these tags you’ll see what I mean: Thai Language Thai Culture

  10. Yedian

    I am in the process of writing a simple Thai read called A Field Guide to Reading Thai Roadside Signs. It is incomplete as I am still looking for a publisher but I will send you a pdf copy if you would like. If Cat has your email address please ask her to send it on to me or you can drop me an email from my website http://retire2thailand.com/ and I will email you the reader. I think it is lots of fun.

  11. Hugh,

    Neat! Thanks for offer. I’ll contact you via your website.

  12. Great list of vocabulary you provided there Hugh – thanks

  13. I love your practical list. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together. And I don’t know why I never thought to say I’m learning Thai, please let me practice. Brilliant.

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