Thai Tales: Mangoes, Mangosteen and Angry Thai Feet

Thai Tales: Mango’s, Mangosteen and Angry Thai Feet

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Tourists and Thai fruit sellers, what a match…

My good friend Khun Phairoh, giggling away, told me a cute story this weekend and I just had to share it with you. Here you go… (and may there be many more).

A tourist in Bangkok stops at a fruit stall along a crowded footpath. Wanting to try out his limited Thai skills, he asks the female fruit seller about one of the items.

Tourist: What is this?
นี่อะไรครับ /nêe a-rai kráp/

Fruit seller: It’s called mangosteen.
เรียกว่ามังคุด /rîak-wâa mang-kút/

Tourist: Mango?


Fruit seller: No it’s not… this is mangosteen!
ไม่ใช่… นี่มังคุด! /mâi-châi… nêe mang-kút/

Tourist: Mango?

Fruit seller: I said mangosteen!!
บอกว่ามังคุด!! /bòk wâa mang-kút/

Tourist: Mango?

Fruit seller: Mango, Mango… feet!
Mango, Mango… ส้นตีน!!! /sôn-dteen/

Tourist: Oh! I see! Mangosteen!

So, what’s this feet thing?…

As you might know, I don’t make a habit of sharing cuss words in Thai. But as the story made me laugh I went to Hugh Leong for advice.

The word ส้นตีน /sôn-dteen/ is not a curse word as we think of it – four letter words, f-words, etc – but it is quite vulgar. It is a really gross way of referring to the foot, especially when used with a person, like, “I stick my foot at you, you uncouth character”.

If we were referring to an animal the word ตีน /dteen/ is used for foot. ตีนเป็ด /dteen bpèt/ means duck foot but can also mean webbed foot (as used with frogs).

So don’t refer to your foot as ตีน /dteen/ but use the regular เท้า /táo/.

Oh, and when we do talk about our feet (or shoes or socks, etc) we usually ask forgiveness first, as in ขอโทษ /kŏr-tôht/ (excuse me) followed by the reason.

Sample: ขอโทษเท้าเจ็บ /kŏr-tôht táo jèp/
Excuse me, my feet hurt.

KP also reminded me that in polite Thai, if you need to touch someone’s head for any reason, you would first say ขอโทษ /kŏr-tôht/ then state the reason (or not).

Sample: ขอโทษค่ะ มีใบไม้บนหัวคุณ /kŏr-tôht kâ mee bai-máai bon hŭa kun/
Excuse me, you have a leaf on your head.

Useful vocabulary to know…

ตีน feet, foot (rude)
เท้า /táo/ feet, foot (polite)
ส้น heel

footpath: ทางเท้า /taang táo/
stall: แผง /păeng/
fruit: ผลไม้: /pŏn-lá-máai/
female fruit seller: แม่ค้าขายผลไม้ /mâe káa kăai pŏn-lá-máai/

this: นี่ /nêe/
what: อะไร /a-rai/
it’s called: เรียกว่า /rîak-wâa/
mangosteen: มังคุด /mang-kút/
no (it’s not): ไม่ใช่ /mâi-châi/
I said: บอกว่า /bòk wâa/

duck feet: ตีนเป็ด /dteen bpèt/
excuse me: ขอโทษ /kŏr-tôht/
have: มี /mee/
leaf: ใบไม้ /bai-máai/
on: บน /bon/
head: หัว /hŭa/
you: คุณ /kun/

polite particle (m): ครับ /kráp/
polite particle (f): ค่ะ /kâ/

A megga thanks goes from me to Khun Phairoh and Hugh!

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