In English the pronoun “you” is good to use to call anyone whether he/she is older or younger than you, even at the same age.
Thai culture is based on people’s seniority, so it is not nice and polite to call people who are older than you only by their names. Then what we should call them?
The word พี่ “pîi“ has a particularly wide range of use, which includes
– a friend or colleague who is older
– wives addressing husbands,
– service-industry workers addressing customers,
and complete strangers striking up a conversation with someone older.
** It is often followed by personal names or nicknames.
Kin terms are commonly used as pronouns. For example, a mother will call herself “mêa” (แม่) which means ‘mother’ rather than chán (ชั้น) I when talking to her child and address her child as “lûuk” (ลูก) rather than other pronouns.
แม่ไม่ชอบ [mêa mâi chôrp]
I(Mother speaking) don’t like it.
ลูกจะไปไหน [lûuk jà bpai năi]
Where are you (parents addressing child) going?
Other personal pronouns (Kin term) that are commonly used are:
พ่อ [pâw] = father
แม่ [mâe] = mother
ป้า [bpâa] = aunt (older sister of parents)
ลุง [lung] = uncle (older brother of parents)
น้า [náa] = aunt/uncle (younger brother/sister of mother)
อา [aa] = aunt/uncle (younger brother/sister of father)
ปู่ [bpùu] = grandfather (father’s father)
ย่า [yâa] = grandmother (father’s mother)
ตา [dtaa] = grandfather (mother’s father)
ยาย [yaai] = grandmother (mother’s mother)
Kin terms can be used as first, second or third person pronouns; therefore, depending on the context. The use of kin terms extends to include those who are not blood relations.
For example: by addressing an elderly man as “lung” ลุง (uncle)
The speaker immediately creates an atmosphere of informality and friendliness:)
*** Personal names or nicknames are also commonly used as personal pronouns. Using one’s name or more commonly, nickname instead of an ‘I’ word is characteristic of female speech but much less common among men.***