Chiang Mai Thai

Ever wanted to learn Thai, in Chiang Mai? I did just that from November 2010, returning home in October 2011. If you don't want a headache, start HERE, it will explain the preceding posts. I'm Snap, Stray's other half. COOEE is our (other) travel blog.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Note To Self 2 - Learning Thai(land)

Don’t believe everything you read AND use more than one Thai language reference resource to verify its meaning and use.

I shout myself a massage about once every two months. And, after yesterday’s, which was outstanding, the owner of the place asked me "How was it?"

“พอดี (por dee) ” I said, with which she gave me a disappointingly blank stare. So, I tried saying it again a couple times, altering it a little each time. Nup, still nothing!

“Perfect” I said, and with that, a look of relief came across her face. I was befuddled for a short while after, because I’m sure I was saying it correctly and had only learnt it that morning in a vocabulary list in one of my lesson files. How hard can it be? I know these two words separately, and use them often.

พอดี = ‘perfect’, the file said. WELL, NO, IT DOESN’T!!!!! And, after reviewing the lesson (about food), the word พอดี in the vocabulary section isn’t used again...anywhere, so I had no context to refer to.

พอดี = ‘just enough, just sufficient, good enough’.

I suppose if someone’s asking you “Would you like some more (food)?”, 'พอดี' might be an appropriate response. Or, if you're ordering a meal, you could say 'เผ็ดพอดี' (spicy just enough...medium heat).

BUT, if someone has just given you a really heavenly massage, I reckon พอดี would mean PRETTY AVERAGE. I really should have known better, it being a compound of ‘adequate/enough + good’. However, compound words don’t always equate to the sum of their two or more parts. Sometimes they’re totally unrelated and make you wonder who was thinking what the hell, when the word evolved...I guess that’s why they’re referred to as idiomatic compounds.

pen = mouth + crow / ปาก + กา / pbàhk + ​gah
rudder = tail + tiger / หาง + เสือ / hǎhng + sǔea
responsible = get + wrong + like / รับผิดชอบ / ráp-​pìt-​châwp
parrot = bird + glass / นก + แก้ว / nók + ​gâeo
cashew = seed + mango + Himapan (in north India) / เม็ด + มะม่วง + หิมพานต์ / mét +​má​môoang + ​hǐm​má​pahn

I am however extremely grateful that most compound words (คำประสม / word + mix, add) in Thai, are what they say they are, or close to it!

Anyway, I think I’ve written พอดี

BTW, if you're looking to get a massage in Chiang Mai, I can recommend Saija.


  1. And if I had a pound (a dime is no longer enough) for every blank look I've received in Thailand... yeah...

    ( and at least you didn't say พอดีพอร้าย! )

  2. @Catherine that really would have been unfortunate :) yes?

  3. Absolutely :-D

    I've stopped being surprised at how many Thai body part words come out of beginner's mouths unintentionally.

  4. Oh my! I don't even want to think about that one.


Feel free to comment.