Thai Honorifics and More

While watching my projects, you’ll probably notice that I keep most of the honorifics and some vocabs in tact. This is because honorifics play a really important part in Thai cultures. They determine the person’s status and the type of the relationship. When you address someone, an honorific is usually in a from of a prefix of someone’s name, job, or the type of relationship you have with the person.

Honorifics can be use as a term of respect, a form of an endearment or even an insult. So in the context of lakorn world, honorifics are pretty important. So in order to keep the same feel as the original lakorn, I include these honorifics in my translation while excluding some for an easier understanding.

Khun: This is the most common honorific you will see. It’s an equivalent to Mr., Ms., Miss, or Mrs. It is also used in place of a person’s name, or even when you do not know the person’s name. It’s like a “Hey, you!” but much, much more polite. Khun also gets attached to relative titles for more politeness. For example, Dad (Phor) becomes “Khunphor” or Father.

There are variations to this honorific, such as “Khuntan” or “Khunnai” and more. Usually I would include a translation note in the lakorns themselves if these were ever used.

P’: This is another common one. It refers to someone who is your older brother, older sisters, or older cousins. This honorific isn’t limited to your relatives, however. It is used if you have a close relationship to the person (to the point where you consider that person your family). But at the same time, it can be use on strangers as well! It depends on the situation.

Nong: The opposite of “P’”, to address someone who is younger than you. You might not see this as often as “P’” since someone who is older than you does not need to address you by this. It’s more of a term of endearment.

Loong and Pa: Uncle and aunt, in that order. Refers to people who are older than your parents.

Na and Ah: Uncle and aunt as well, however this one isn’t limit to a gender and is interchangeable. Refers to those that are younger that your parents. Here’s the tricky part, however. “Ah” is used with those that are younger than your mother while “Na” is used with those that are younger than your father. I switched to simple Aunts and Uncles for my newer subs.

Nung, E, Ai: You probably won’t see these in my translations but they are used often as an insult. I do not have a real and valid reason as to why I exclude them, it just feels right that way. This brings me to the next one.

[blank]: That’s right! A blank! The lack of honorific means that the person has permission to address them in a very close and intimate way, such as best friends or even siblings. But this can be insulting as well if you speak to someone (be it strangers or an acquaintance) without using any honorifics. It is considered very rude and impolite.

Krub and Ka: These aren’t honorifics but they are used to end sentences or acknowledge that you understand something. Krub is for male and Ka is for female. They’re known as “haang sieng” and are just as important as honorifics if not more. When you speak without using these, it is considered impolite. This isn’t used very often among close friends, however. There are variations to these, like “Haa” or “Ha”. They’re still considered polite but not to the same extent and are usually used by certain people only. (Such as members of LGBT)

17 Responses to Thai Honorifics and More

  1. ashleykhine says:

    where can i get Rong Raem Pee thai lakorn eng subtitle, tell me plz. :)

  2. yerry says:

    So if you have a younger brother, you addressed him as “nong”? Or is this used for girls mostly? Cause I have been thinking what they addressed the younger brother as or do they just use their name?

    • KudaLakorn says:

      It depends on the situation. Say, you’re having a conversation with a friend and you happen to be talking about your younger brother, then you would refer to him as “nong” or “nong chai” (nong sao for younger sister). In most cases when you are referring to the brother to someone else, you would use “nong.” However, if you are speaking to your younger brother, you wouldn’t necessarily use “nong” when addressing him. Usually, we just use their nickname when it comes to younger brothers. It’s different when you have a younger sister though where “nong” can be applied to their names. It really depends on what kind of relationships they have, how close they are and what they generally prefer.

      Of course, we’re talking about adults here. with kids, “nong” is often applied in any gender.

  3. Ettu says:

    I have just discovered Thai Dramas and was on another blog and happened upon your name in a comment. By the process of elimination, I understood the meaning of Khun, I am fascinated with Asian culture and the more that I get into the “dramas” No, I do not confuse them with real life, is the more I realize, the culture shock an Asian immigrant to the West must encountered. Although, there is still so much more to understand, I believe that I have a better understanding of why most Asians appear to be so clannish or unwilling to readily assimilate. Especially, to the elders non Asians must appear so rude that it is funny.

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  6. Nee says:

    You wrote that:
    “Na” is use to those that are older than your mother while “Ah” is use to those that are older than your father.
    I’m pretty sure you meant “younger” since you said so as much in your preceding statement.

  7. alem says:

    Thank you for the article on honorifics. Now that I have discovered you, I will be able to appreciate more Thai films. I had my first introduction of Thai films through Love of Siam. Now I am enjoying Love8009 aka Varieties in Love. Thank you and keep up the good work. I wish I could go back to visit Thailand. I had been there once only.

  8. Woow!!! Thanks for these infos… I think I just got to know a whole about the Thai culture.

  9. TatjanaR says:

    I have been wondering what “Gu” means, It seems as though it’s of higher status than “pom” and “chan”. So my questions are what does “gu” mean, why do they sometimes use “gu” instead of “pom” or “chan” and when is it okay to use “gu”?
    I have written the words as I hear them so my spelling might be completely off…

  10. NamNam says:

    thanks so much for the explanation!! i wish i could understand full thai.. but i’m not thai, i’m hmong… and sadly enough that i don;t understand thai… oh well, thanks for all of your hardwork!!

  11. jjinxx says:

    thanks Kuda! I love your translations and all the stuff I learn about Thai culture through the language thanks to your subbing.

  12. Gingeroot says:

    Wow! Love that you included this information!!! It is so helpful and much appreciated!!!

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