Family - Kinship terms in Thai        click image to expand

The Kinship system


Extends to include newcomers and strangers.  A stranger who arrives in the village usually uses kinship terms when he approaches the villagers for help. The use of the terms automatically makes them a relative of all the which takes care.


An extension of the use of kinship terms is the word for "pupil, student, trainee, apprentice and disciple", which is "luuk sit"  (learning child). A teacher has the same status and obligation as a parent. This may be a vestige of a tradition in those days when schools were not in existence and those who sought education or training had to live in the home of the teachers. No tuition was asked for but the learners had to help around the house as if they had been one of the younger "yaat". 


To refer to anybody who is, closely as well as remotely, related to them by blood, by marriage or just by association. The closest English equivalent is perhaps the word "relatives."  When a newcomer joined the village, they became a new "yaat." Even visitors could be granted a "yaat" status if they wished to be assimilated into the group.


When strangers meet, the title "khun" will be adopted until a satisfactory relationship develops, at which time kinship terms will be used instead. Age or seniority determines the choice of kinship term. It is interesting to note; however, that kinship terms on the maternal side are more preferable, perhaps because people feel closer to their mother than their father. Once kinship terms are adopted, both parties know that the relationship has reached a satisfactory level. To keep a distance is to ignore , explicitly or implicitly, the other party's attempt to use kinship terms and to maintain the use of the title "khun".  more on "khun"

Kinship sounds

พี่  pheeF older sibling; older siblings
น้อง  naawngH younger sibling
ลุง  loongM uncle; elder uncle; elder brother of a parent; great uncle
ป้า  bpaaF aunt; elder sister of parents
พ่อ  phaawF father
แม่  maaeF [general] mother
ปู่  bpuuL grandfather; paternal grandfather; father's father; grandpa
ย่า  yaaF paternal grandmother
ตา  dtaaM maternal grandfather
ยาย  yaayM maternal grandmother
เจ๊ jehH [แต้จิ๋ว  dialect] elder sister
โก gohM [ไหหลำ dialect] elder brother
หลาน  laanR grandchild
เหลน laehnR great-grandchild
อา  aaM aunt or uncle; younger sister or brother of father
เตี่ย dtiiaL [แต้จิ๋ว  dialect] father
ม่วย muayF [แต้จิ๋ว  dialect] younger sister
เฮีย hiiaM [แต้จิ๋ว  dialect] elder brother
ตี๋ dteeR [แต้จิ๋ว  dialect] younger brother
ทวด thuaatF great-grandparent
ก๋ง  gohngR maternal grandfather
ชวด  chuaatF great grandparent
ทวดน้อย thuaatF naawyH great-granduncle; great-grandaunt
อัยยิกา aiM yiH gaaM grandmother
น้า  naaH aunt; younger sister of mother
น้า  naaH uncle; younger brother of mother
อื๊ม euumH aunt; mother's elder sister
ซิ้ม simH aunt
ยายทวด yaayM thuaatF great grandmother on the maternal grandmother's side
ตาทวด dtaaM thuaatF great grandfather; maternal grandfather's or maternal grandmother's father; great granduncle
ย่าทวด yaaF thuaatF great grandmother; paternal grandfather's or paternal grandmother's mother; great grandaunt
ปู่ทวด bpuuL thuaatF great grandfather; paternal great grandfather
พี่เขย pheeF kheeuyR brother-in-law (older)
น้องเขย naawngH kheeuyR brother or sister in law who is younger; a man or woman who is married to one’s younger sister or brother.
ลูกเขย luukF kheeuyR son-in-law
ลูกสะใภ้ luukF saL phaiH daughter-in-law
น้องสะใภ้ naawngH saL phaiH sister-in-law (younger)
พี่สะใภ้ pheeF saL phaiH sister-in-law (older)
แป๊ะ bpaeH uncle
แม่ยาย maaeF yaayM mother-in-law (wife's mother)
แม่ผัว maaeF phuaaR mother-in-law (husband's mother) [colloquial or non-prestige dialect]

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Related Topic:
including Bun and Baap, Body parts and their meaning, Heart Language Culture, Language, Tham bun, Wai, Sanuk