Thai greeting

Thai greeting

The Thai greeting referred to as the "wai" ( _th. ไหว้) or in Lao as "kub" consists of a slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion. It is very similar to the Indian "namasté" and the Cambodian "sampeah". The higher the hands are held in relation to the face and the lower the bow, the more respect/reverence the giver of the "wai" is showing.

The wai is also common as a way to thank someone or apologise.

The word often spoken with the "wai" as a greeting or farewell is "sawasdee" ( _th. สวัสดี). Phonetically, the word is pronounced "sa-wat-dee". The spelling with the "s" comes from a transforming consonant, _th. ส. This word was coined in the mid-1930s by Phraya Upakit Silapasan of Chulalongkorn University. This word, derived from the Sanskrit "svasti" (meaning "well-being"), had previously been used in Thai only as a formulaic opening to inscriptions. The strongly nationalist government of Plaek Pibulsonggram in the early 1940s promoted the use of the word "sawasdee" amongst the government bureaucracy as well as the wider populace as part of a wider set of cultural edicts to modernise Thailand.


The "wai" originated from an ancient greeting that was done to show neither individual had any weapons.Fact|date=September 2007 There exist multiple versions of the greeting based on social class, gender, and age.

One speculation is that it comes from Buddhism.Fact|date=September 2007 After certain prayers, one must clasp their hands together and bring it down towards the ground three times.


*Diller, Anthony (1991). "National Identity and Its Defenders". Chap 4 "What Makes Thai A Central Language" ISBN 974-7047-209
*Barme, Scot (1993). "Luang Wichit Wathakan and the Creation of a Thai Identity" ISBN 981-3016-58-2

ee also


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