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Thai Smiles

It's either just me or some collective observation among long-staying foreigners that there really aren't enough noticeable smiles in both rural or urban areas for Thailand to be advertised as the Land of Smiles. A few reads here and there and I discovered that Thais regard smile as an appropriate reaction to almost any situation.

A PhD student at Bangkok University wrote an entire dissertation on Thai smiles. Interested observers were welcome during the defense. I kinda regretted being unable to find out how the exploration went. At my own thesis defense (not about smiles though), a Thai government representative smiled a certain smile over a brief conference with my advisors about addressing RQs and hypotheses on chapter 1. I knew it to be "don't-insist-or-your-advisee-is-in-trouble" smile. That smile is just one among several kinds of smiles that Thais use. Here are 13 others:

(yim - thai word for smile)

1. Yim tang namtah - used when very happy; eg. I've-won-the-jackpot smile

2. Yim cheun chom - the smile used when impressed with or when one admires someone

3. Yim sao - the smile used when one is sad (this is probably what the song meant - smile though your heart is aching)

4. Yim cheut cheuan - the smile a winner gives to a losing opponent or rival

5. Yim tak tan - the I'm right-and-you're-wrong smile

6. Yim mee lai nai - the smile the blankets bad intentions

7. Feun yim - the forced smile

8. Yim tak tai- the polite smile used for strangers or acquaintances

9. Yim yor - the mocking smile; used to taunt or laugh at someone

10. Yim soo - things-are-so-bad-I-better-smile smile

11. Yim mai ohk - when you want to smile but can't, or the smile won't come out

12. Yim haeng - the dry smile for situations like "is it today? sorry, I forgot please don't be mad at me"

13. Yim ya-ya - the smile used to apologize or to diffuse an embarrassing, tense moment

~ header from Samulli / click here for more T13 ~


Anonymous said…
Well I'm yimming all the way through this post. Great 13 my friend. Thanks for some new knowledge. :)
Tracie Nall said…
I'm using smile #2 right now. Interesting list....I enjoyed it.

Happy TT!
Chris said…
very interesting :)
Anya said…
many smile's today

Very interesting
yim - thai :)
Janet said…
so many ways to smile!
I am Harriet said…
:) List!! Loved it Hazel!

Happy Thursday!
i couldnt help yim through the entire thing.
absolute treat :)

13 annoyances after 27
Alice Audrey said…
I've used a lot of these smiles, I just didn't have a word for them.
genejosh said…
this is interesting sis..ang dami palang klase ng yim dito sa Thailand....
Pacey said…
I was trying to figure out and trying it myself as I read each smile description and was imagining the smiley icons over at Yahoo! Thais got a lot of smiles and I do hope you get the kind smile from each of them, hahahah...but you know I do like the smiley from yahoo, the smug one. Hahahah...pang kuntrabida ug nawng bah. Naa diay ko bago blog kay naguba tong ako photoblog uy.
Mia Celeste said…
Wow, what a lot of different grins. I've seen most, but never put a name to them.
Interesting list....I enjoyed it. thanks for it.

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