[quote=“Vay”]For this reason, they teach the use of the polite particle “krup/kha” at the end of EVERY sentence and question.
What I’d like to know is, in what situations do Thai speakers really use the polite particle?[/quote]
- General answer - you won’t know most folks well enough to use informal speech, so just get used to using it very liberally, as with nearly every sentence you would utter in most situations. It sounds excessive to non-Thai, but it’s just a habit in this language. Yes, conversations really do sound like
Khor toht, khrap.
X yoo teenai khrap.
yoo teenee khrap.
khorp khun maak, khrap.
In short, YES, use the polite particle just like your lessons teach you.
I’m not sure I completely agree with the way the above website breaks down and describes varieties of Thai. Just ignore this categorization, as none except #1 are relevant for you; but note that its so-called “Street Thai” is not ‘informal’ by western standards, given that it continually adds polite particles, and so on. Just learn your textbook Thai, consider that “standard, i.e., polite Thai”, and don’t worry about anything else unless you end up there a long time and then you’ll just grok anyway.
“polite Thai is mostly spoken with people you don’t know, or are further outside of your immediate circle than close friends and family.”
"The “respectful terms of address” part made me wonder if there is an age aspect to this as well (i.e. Would you automatically address an older person in a more polite form?). "
You’d just be sure to use the kha/khrap, be sure to use the hands together when thanking them, and bow slightly lower than they do (especially for monks). You don’t need to learn special vocab or anything.
Better to use it too much than too little.
With a little time in Thailand you’ll get the hang of how much to use it. It may get dropped from less important tag questions and phrases accompanying the main sentence, or from sentences 3 or 4 out of a group of 5, depending on the content, so you might have a "chan gor hiew, meuangan. Bai nai? inserted after the first couple kha-bearing sentences. But primary, direct sentences and questions, especially if they’re the major part of the exchange, DO invariably carry the final ptcl., as with the above example.
Absolutely (!) use it, along with a friendly, gentle, polite tone of voice in any situation where you are junior, especially if speaking to a monk, etc…
But note - eternal friendliness and politeness are just as important as the particle. If you pass someone handing out DM’s, take one with a smile, even if you don’t want one, just to be ‘friendly and accepting’.
You won’t hear it much between family members, close friends, or lovers. My Thai girlfriend wouldn’t say, for example, “Baah, kha” :loco: , but rather, Baaaah!!! and maybe a playful slap to accompany it.
If you’re gay or transsexual, you can use the female kha, and will not be looked down upon for this or for effeminate voice or mannerisms. It’s a wonderfully accepting society.
As a foreigner, as long as you’re very very friendly, polite and smiling, they won’t even notice if you occasionally fail to add a khrap or kha. You’ll be forgiven even if they notice, but they’ll probably be too pleased to see a foreigner is trying to speak their language to even notice.
One last tip – really focus on those tones, just like with Chinese!