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Jai Words (Words of the Heart)

A nice feature of the Thai language is the way they create words describing emotions or characteristics as 'heart words'.

hearthua jai
heart, mind, spiritjai

The Thai for heart is hua jai. That is the physical organ in your chest. Just like in English, the word heart is also associated with a more spiritual level to describe feelings or characteristics. In this case, Thais tend to use jai.

Words that describe emotions or feelings generally end with jai. For example, dee jai is to be happy or pleased. The word dee means 'good'. You can see therefore that, as described in the previous lesson, the word jai is being combined with other words from the Thai language to create the feeling of the emotion described. In this case 'good heart'.

There are literally hundreds of jai words in the Thai language but we will only look at some of the more common examples.

bplairk jaiWonder / Confusebplairk = strange
bplee-an jaiChange Mindbplee-an = change
bpralaht jaiSurpisedbpralaht = surprise
cheu-a jaiBelieve Incheu-a = believe
chorp jaiLike / Be Pleasedchorp = like
dee jaiHappy / Pleaseddee = good
dtahm jaiGo Along Withdtahm = follow
dtang jaiIntenddtang = establish
dtem jaiExciteddtem = full
gamlang jaiHave Will Powergamlang = strength
gep jaiHide Feelingsgep = collect
gloom jaiWorriedgloom = worry
greng jaiConsiderate / Respectfulgreng = fear
hen jaiSympathisehen = see
jap jaiTouchingjap = touch
jep jaiFeel Hurtjep = hurt
jit jaiemotional / mental statejit = mind
jing jaiSincerejing = true
kao jaiUnderstandkao = to enter
korp jaiThankfulkorp = thanks
mun jaiBecome Sure of a Personmunkong = sturdy / stable
nair jaiCertainnair = sure
poom jaiProudpoom = proud
por jaiSatisfiedpor = enough
sabai jaiContentsabai = comfortable
sao jaiSadsao = sad
see-a jaiUpset / Broken Heartedsee-a = broken
son jaiInterestedson = interest
tam jaiAccepttam = do / done
touk jaiTo One's Likingtouk = correct/right
wai jaiTrustwai = keep, store

Words that describe characteristics generally start with with jai:

jai deeKind / Generousdee = good
jai dumMean / Nastydum = black
jai glahBraveglah = bravery
jai hinAdamenthin = stone
jai kairngStrong Willedkairng = hard
jai ngaiGulliblengai = easy
jai ornCompliantorn = soft
jai raaiBad / Cruel / Heartlessraai = bad
jai rornImpetuous / Hot-headedrorn = hot
jai sooDeterminedsoo = fight
jai yenCalm / Coolyen = cool

The full meaning of some of these jai words cannot be conveyed in the simple tables above. Two commonly heard jai words that often cause confusion are:

greng jai

This is a very Thai concept that will not translate to any single English word. It can be used to convey a sense of indebtedness and not wanting to impose any more. Thais will also use it in the sense of feeling the need to repay a favour. It can also be used in a sense of being fearful of causing offence or annoyance.
mun jai

This is a complimentary word. It is used in the case of coming to trust somebody. It indicates that perhaps there was previously a feeling of doubt but that has now passed and you have faith in the subject.


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