YouTube: Thai Tylenol Ad and Tones

Thai Language Phrase Books

This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.

YouTube: Thai Tylenol Ad…

While I am waiting for the Myke Hawke’s Quick and Dirty Guide to Learning Languages Fast files to be checked over, I thought that I would share a hilarious Tylenol ad that touches on tones.

The importance of tones…

Some of us (most of us?) who are learning Thai are afraid of saying the wrong word. It’s a tonal thing.

Many a time, when taking a stab at a word, I’ve made a sweet Thai’s face and neck burn absolutely red. And when I ask, they never tell me exactly what I’ve said!

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It must have been bad.

Thai Tylenol ad on adintrend.com…

When the subject of tones and YouTube came up during class, My Thai teacher mentioned a commercial. I twittered, received an answer, and there it was. On ADintrend. And when I tried to submit it to YouTube, the video got kicked out of the system. Meaning, I’m not too sure of the legalities of embedding it here so if you do want to watch it, you’ll have to watch it over there (edit: only it’s not there any longer – tedious).

And to do that, you’ll need to click on your button of choice: Low Speed 56k or High Speed 512k. Low speed worked for me.

What he said…

ขอ ยาแก้ปวดลดๆๆไข่เป้งหนึงครับนี่มันไม่ใช่ Tylenol นะ

kŏr yaa gâe bpùat lót lót lót kài bpêng nĕung kráp. nêe man mâi châi Tylenol ná
May I have a pain release medicine to reduce reduce reduce egg? This is not Tylenol, yes?

What he should have said…

ขอยาเเก้ปวดลดไข้เเผงหนึ่งครับนี่มันไม่ใช่ Tylenol นะ

kŏr yaa gâe bpùat lót kâi păeng nèung kráp. nêe man mâi châi Tylenol ná
May I have a pack of medicine to reduce fever and pain? This is not Tylenol, yes?

The ending…

อยาก ได้ Tylenol, นะ

yàak dâai Tylenol, ná
I want Tylenol, ok?

Why the wrong tones are just… wrong…

From what I was told… in Thai-style, ลดไข่ (reduce egg) is slang for reducing a man’s endowment. So although the expat meant to ask for medicine to reduce pain and fever, by using the wrong tones, he ended up asking for a reduction in his endowment.

And if that is so, then I feel for him.

10 comments
  1. ‘given Thailand’s fame in the orchiectomy field’

    Pete, on second thoughts, I’d better not post my experience from when I was running around Thailand recently. It just may prove to be too painful 😀

  2. Think more about Catherine’s blog, I shall definitely leave all menu orders relating to eggs to any Thais accompanying me to the restaurant. Or given Thailand’s fame in the orchiectomy field, they’ll have you in hospital, anaesthetised, then waking up to a breakfast of scrambled eggs and a bowl of nuts before you can count your first chicken.

  3. Hi Martyn, Knowing how easy it is to mess up, I can only think of what the Thais have to put up with all the time. I know I’ve caught more than a fair share of bemused looks from them. So… have you recovered from jet lag yet?

    Ben, I keep wondering if we can twist it to our benefit… 🙂

    (now off to see your bougainvillea post…)

  4. Heh heh, very clever! Just goes to show the mind field the Thai speaking amateur has to navigate every day!

    Ben Shingletons last blog post..Bougainvillea in Thailand

  5. I think I’ll give asking for a hard boiled egg in Thailand a miss after reading what reduce egg means. “I want my eggs scrambled” may result in a swift kick to the lower regions as well. Tones are the key to learning Thai I’m quite sure of that and Central English speakers are not very tonal at all, making things doubly difficult.

  6. Pete, post my experiences with my Thai outing? Or the Thai instructions for signing up to a Thai site? 😀

    Talen, lol! Why is it always a body part when we mess up? 😀

    Nerves and shyness are my two biggest problems with speaking Thai. Sometimes I go along fine, and other times I freeze and won’t say anything.

    I envy those out there who just get on with it, warts and all. My Thai teacher says it’s because I’m a perfectionist. I believe she is just being kind.

    And I now have a new bad habit. I don’t usually like talking on the phone no matter what language. And I really dislike talking on mobile phones. The absolute worse for me is wrong numbers. I find talking on the phone when it is a wrong number in the West bad enough, but in Thailand it can be a real pain. Some Thais making contact even with wrong numbers are really chatty, even calling back several times just to ‘visit’. So when the phone rings here and it is a wrong number (I can tell by the first sentence), I say ‘I don’t speak Thai’ in English.

    I know. I’m bad. But I guess after living in Thailand for awhile I’ve taken on some of the local ways – by doing what I can to avoid difficult situations…

  7. I think tones are the biggest thing holding most learners back. I know I’ve known the correct phrase to use on occasions but didn’t because I was too afraid I’d screw it up.

    My first trip to Mukdahan’s night market with the whole family ( including grandma who was next to me) I decided to try my Thai out in public…I really thought I was asking doing well until grandma busted out laughing…apparently one of the words I used came out more like the word for a womans lower anatomy…kinda gunshy now but still trying.

  8. Will do, but having all sorts of technical/computer/internet problems today – and that’s in ‘efficient’ France! I’ve a broadband connection downloading an anti virus program at 28k dial-up speed, it reckons I’ll have finished in about four hours…

    (Go on post it… can’t wait 😉

  9. Sopping wet? LOL! I’d be mortified too. And lucky you, they were quite fine to inform you what was said 😀

    So many Thai snafus I run into seem to come down to body parts. The shapes of fruit and seafood and… Awhile back I spent a several days running around with a couple of kind locals. When you are in that close of a situation, you get more time to quiz them. But… I’m going to save that one for another post… that’s if I can get myself to post it.

    You can download the video if you go through all their directions in Thai. It’s not too difficult and I’ve even created instructions to follow. I thought it would make a good post on its own, sort of like a cheat sheet for signing up at Thai sites.

  10. Shucks, all that technology is too much for me. Nothing happens at either speed. Still it’s a classic! Happens to me all the time (not a reduction in my endowment, of course). Sorry fellow bloggers who’ve heard this before, but in my early days of pretending to speak Thai, breakfasting with three (platonic) girlfriends just after some tremendously heavy rainfall and run-offs from Doi Inthanon (Thailand’s highest mountain), I attempted to impress one girl who lived in Samoen at the foot of the mountain by asking if the village had been flooded. It was all rather approximate Thai, but boiled down to “Nam mahk sa moen ?” However it seems that my pronunciation of ‘sa’ sounded like “bpaa”, and ‘moeng’ sounded more like “moyi”. When they had all picked themselves up off the floor, I learnt that I’d just asked one girl if her jungle of pubic hair was sopping wet.

    I’ve never been so embarrassed…

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