This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
Child of an Angel, spoilt brat?…
My Thai posts are usually well-researched (as much as I can do, anyway). But, with Thailand’s Children of God: Look Tewada ลูกเทวดา, I took a shortcut. I was slim on time so I quickly checked ลูกเทวดา /lôok tay-wá-daa/ in Thai dictionaries and threw it out for a response.
child, offspring (used for both humans and animals)
god, goddess, angel
I went with the first selection on the list, god, so I’m obviously no better than Google Translate. But as you’ll see below, presenting a zillion questions to a knowledgeable Thai teacher such as Khun Narisa is a better bet.
BTW: Aor’s and Martyn’s comments are the reason I asked for a special Thai lesson. Because with Thai, there’s always more to the story.
And now on to Martyn’s comments…
First up is Martyn, who’s always getting me to think out of the box (and sometimes he takes the box away).
Martyn: Catherine I can help you out with the link to the song Look Tewadah (ลูกเทวดา). I wrote a post about in on Beyond The Mango Juice and it includes a video of the song which is performed by Sanook Singmat.
I’d forgotten about Martyn’s post on the subject (I believe I was traveling at the time + slow connection). Apologies Martyn. But on a positive note, I wouldn’t have written these two posts if I’d remembered. Does that make sense?
Martyn: Look tewadah is a tag given to teenage boys who habitually laze around all day and are nothing but trouble when they do eventually rise from their shut-eye. They race motorbikes along the country roads, get involved in fights and of course have a keen eye for the prettiest schoolgirls. When it’s time to help out with family chores they’re either asleep or too kee kiat (ขี้เกียจ / lazy) to do so.
So Look Tewadah is not just for the rich. Any spoilt kid can be given the moniker. Good to know.
The lyrics to Look Tewadah (ลูกเทวดา) are in Issan Thai. And I don’t read Issan Thai but Khun Narisa does. During the verbal translation I had a query about three sentences. To help me understand, Khun Narisa gave me both the Issan and the Central Thai plus translation.
(I) keep saying the word ‘angel child’.
Central: (ฉัน) ท่องเอาไว้ ‘ลูกเทวดา’
(chăn) tông ao-wái ‘ lôok tay-wá-daa ‘
(I) should not make him angry…
yàa hâi kăo gròht
…or in a moment the world will collapse.
dĭeow loh-gaa jà ban-lai jà ban-lai
Which basically translates to: I keep saying to myself that he’s a spoilt child. I shouldn’t make him angry or he’ll throw a tantrum.
Wow. At the very least I would have threatened bodily harm.
Sanook Singmat (country singer), is a Thai policeman. Surprised? Me too. And if you can read Thai, you can discover more about him here: สนุ๊ก-สิงห์มาตร. If not, run it through Google Translate just for fun.
His first name, Sanook, does not mean fun in Thai (สนุก /sà-nùk/). It’s short for snooker (the sport). Making it even shorter, his nickname is Nook (นุก). Not untypically, he is misspelling his name สนุ๊ก (สิงห์มาตร). It’s supposed to be สนุก (สนุกเกอร์). Just like สนุก (fun).
Another Thai song that mentions the problems inherent with look tewadah is by the famous Carabao. It’s called ลูกแก้ว /lôok gâew/.
ลูกแก้ว /lôok gâew/
child + glass/crystal = precious child.
When you hold a glass (crystal) you have to be careful, right? So therefor, precious child.
The song is about the only child of rich parents who spoilt the child with money but not attention. The lack of parental instruction and guidance garnered disastrous results. As a teen the child started taking drugs and ended up in prison for rape, murder, and stealing. And in the end the kid apologised to his parents for being a bad egg. Hmmm…
Khun Narisa tells me that it’s quite possible that ลูกแก้ว /lôok gâew/ came from ลูกหัวแก้วหัวแหวน /lôok hŭa gâew hŭa hăe won/
child + head + glass + head + ring = the precious gem on a ring = dearest (precious) child.
Aor and who do you think you are?…
Personally, I’d love it if Aor would comment more often. Hint… hint…
Aor: I haven’t heard many people use ‘look tewadah’ but ‘bpen tewadah maa jaak nai’ (= who do you think you are!).
bpen tay-wá-daa maa jàak năi
Who do you think you are!
Aor: By the way, I found the same MV as Martyn posted above. When you say someone is look tewadah, it means (sarcastic) he’s untouchable, born in upper class (not good manners) or it’s because of the way parents spoil a kid so much that he is disobedient.
The spoilt child version of ลูกเทวดา /lôok tay-wá-daa/ is one I’m getting used to. And apparently, there’s another softer meaning too.
1) Child from an angel (a positive).
2) Spoilt child (as Aor mentions above, is used as a negative).
If you watch the video Martyn brought to our attention, you’ll see the Thai parents act out the first (positive) version. See how sweetly they say Look Tewada? It’s only later, during the teen years, that their tone of voice changes (changing the meaning).
Did you see the parents praying to the tree? I’m guessing that the tree is on their property. Parents who cannot have children sometimes pray for the child of an angel. Some pray to Buddha and some go to dedicated fertility shrines such as Chao Mae Tuptim’s.
lôok kon née kong bpen lôok tay-wá-daa maa gèrt ùt-sàa kŏr maa lăai bpee
This child could be the angel’s child we’ve been asking for all these years.
kăo bpen lôok tay-wá-daa maa gèrt
He is the angel’s child who’s been born.
kăo chûay pôr mâe hâi pón kwaam lam-bàak
He helps his parents during difficulties.
lôok tay-wá-daa gôr yàang-ngée làe tam a-rai gôr mâi-pìt
The angel’s child who can do no wrong.
Aor: Another common word we use is ‘look bang-gerd glaao’ (ลูกบังเกิดเกล้า)
ลูกบังเกิดเกล้า /lôok bang-gèrt glâo/ is a spoilt child.
The head (เกล้า /glâo/) part is interesting.
Biological father is พ่อบังเกิดเกล้า /pôr bang-gèrt glâo/ : father born head
Biological mother is แม่บังเกิดเกล้า /mâe bang gèrt glâo/ : mother born head
From what I understand, the head connection is that the child comes from a mother’s womb head first and the father shares 50/50 with making the child.
Tying it all together, behaving in the manner of a ลูกบังเกิดเกล้า /lôok bang gèrt glâo/ basically means to push the head of mother/father from his/her womb. Ouch. And very bad manners in any culture.
Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed another peek into my Thai lessons with Thai Skype teacher Khun Narisa. I’m not a very good student but she makes our time together interesting. Go ahead and contact her if you want to be interesting too 😉
3 thoughts on “Look Tewada ลูกเทวดา: Child of an Angel? Spoilt Brat?”
Reminder to myself: replace the videos (those are gone).
Hi Martyn, good question. And since I’m just waking up I had to retype my answer three times! I have a friend coming over this morning – I doubt she’d know but I’ll ask.
I’m also curious at the time it came into Thai vocabulary. Who would know those sorts of things? Is there a book we can purchase? Even in Thai?
Catherine a good post on a fascinating subject and thank you for the link.
Assuming ‘look tewada’ is used for both spoilt rich kids and wayward village youths as well I’m wondering which came about first. If you like the chicken or the egg. Was the term first used for elite kids or the lesser well off ones. My guess is ‘look tewada’ was first attached to generalise about all rebellious children in Thailand but over recent years has been used to emphasise the antics of Bangkok’s elite kids.