All in the Family Pt1

30 05 2010

One of the many formulae a newbie to the Thai language and culture has to get their head around is the myriad different words used to describe familial relationships.  I’ve been doing this a while and I still find myself having to think about my paternal aunt versus my maternal grandmother; my mother’s younger sister and my father’s older brother, and so on and so on.  Unlike English where brother, sister, uncle and aunt will do regardless of age and/or family line, in Thailand it’s important to get the relationships right.

Here are the names and descriptions for the closest ones.

The Nuclear Family

Father: พ่อ pôr

Mother: แม่ mâe

Son: ลูกชาย lôok chaai

Daughter: ลูกสาว lôok săao

Older brother: พี่ชาย pêe chaai

Older sister: พี่สาว pêe săao

Younger brother: น้องชาย nóng chaai

Younger sister: น้องสาว nóng săao

Husband: สามี săa-mee / ผัว pŭa (less formal)

Wife: ภรรยา pan-rá-yaa / เมีย mia (less formal)

Uncles and Aunts

Elder brother of mother or father: ลุง lung

Elder sister of mother or father: ป้า bpâa

Younger sibling of father, either sex: อา aa

Younger sibling of mother, either sex: น้า náa

Paternal Grandfather: ปู่ bpòo

Paternal Grandmother: ย่า yâa

Maternal Grandfather: ตา dtaa

Maternal Grandmother: ยาย yaai

Function Words (you’ll need these for the reading practice)

Is: คือ keu / เป็น bpen

Named: ชื่อ chêu

Of: ของ kŏng

He/She: เขา kăo

Reading Practice

ลุงชื่อหมู เขาเป็นพี่ชายของพ่อ

น้าชื่อไก่ เขาคือน้องสาวของแม่

ป้าชื่ออ้วน เขาเป็นพี่สาวของแม่

อาชื่อกบ เขาคือน้องชายของพ่อ

ปู่คือพ่อของพ่อ ปู่ผมชื่อใหญ่

Now try making up some of your own sentences with the vocab we’ve practised?

We’ll be looking at some more distant relations in a later post, so stay tuned to know the difference between your mother-in-law on your wife’s side and your younger sister’s husband!


I have created a deck of Anki flash cards using the vocab in this lesson.  Download it here.

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2 responses

5 06 2010

Nice lesson, this topic is damn hard to remember. Just a few things I want to check:

“Maternal Grandfather: ตา data” -> should be dtaa, not data, right?

“อาชื่อไก่ เขาคือน้องสาวของแม่” -> should start with น้า, not อา, as the rest of the sentence says the relative is the little sister of the mother, right?

5 06 2010

Thank you Andy. Yes this is a tricky one to remember and get right, especially since virtually all of these words can also be used to refer to close friends, workmates, more distant relatives and even people like the woman who makes fish cakes at the end of your soi, regardless of their actual relationship to you (if any). The ‘data/dtaa’ problem was my spell-checker taking liberties, but the อา/น้า mix-up was all my own doing. I have fixed them now. Cheers.

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