Thai Insults: Calling Someone A Lizard Can Land You In Jail

Lawyer and lizard.

Following an inquiry as to whether saying a woman has small breast constitutes a crime in Thailand comes news that one of the country’s commonest – and basest – insults could land users behind bars.

The insult is familiar to all Thai speakers – and used habitually by many in common speech as well as confrontations – and is best described as using the colloquial name of the humble water monitor.

Daily News reported on the matter yesterday. They asked a different lawyer to the one they consulted over the issue of small mammaries.

They were reluctant to even write the word in Thai in their story. We feel safe enough “hia” on Thaivisa.

Yes the word is “hia” pronounced quite like the English word “here”.

Daily News used Thai letters of course writing just “hi…” in their story to avoid hurting sensibilities and perhaps with a little humour aforethought.

They said that the insult is widely used and some people say virtually nothing else especially with friends – rather like the use of the F word in English. But while it is very common in more ways than one – it may not just be a beating or a kicking that you get for using it in anger.

Lawyer Ratchaphon Sirisakhorn said that a court could decide in the right circumstances that use of the word “hi…” could be insulting language that would warrant a jail term of a year or a 1,000 baht fine.

Thaivisa would like to advise foreigners, too, to be careful of the word. It may be safer even on seeing one of the vaguely stripy lizards in parks or ponds to refer to their pleasant name:

Tua ngern tua thong – the silver and gold creature.

In this way you will be deemed a knowledgeable and polite foreigner and may even be the recipient of riches as the name implies – a belief prevalent among older Thais.

Or you can just say: “Oh look….there’s a water monitor!”

That may be safer still.

(Source:-Daily News and Thai Visa)

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