Recently I heard that back in the day Thai-yai people would use couplets while they were courting to tease each other and, essentially, “pick-up.” I asked my friend about the use of couplets in courting and then gave an example. She laughed and then tossed a new one out that I hadn’t heard before. Soon after that, several more kept coming out. I asked if people used the couplets nowadays and she answered no. Not even when she was young did they use them. In her uncle’s day and age, she said, they used them. Her uncle used to say them and they would all laugh about how they were so ridiculous. Kind of like these pick-up lines here perhaps?
Basically the couplets would start with a question: ‘Gin phak ii sang kha?’ (What did you eat (for any meal)?) Then the answer would come…
…’Gin maak paak, kai haak, jong ma’ (ate pumpkin, want to love, will you come?)
…’Gin phak khiaw, non gor laew’ (ate greens, sleep alone)
…’Gin maak ler, ber yaow, mer’ (ate (some kind of fruit/vegetable I don’t know), bored of him already, go home)
…’Gin maak paang, gang taang’… (ate (another kind of fruit/vegetable I don’t know), middle of the road (ie. you don’t know the way to my heart))
It seems that in courting situation, when the guy would ask the girl what she ate for dinner, she would just answer the name of the food and from that, the rest of the answer would be understood.
…’Gin maak paak’ (ate pumpkin) – (understood answer: ‘kai haak’ (want to love), ‘jong ma?’ (will you come?))
…’Gin phak kheaw’ (ate greens) – (understood answer: ‘non gor laew’ (sleep alone))
…’Gin maak ler’ (ate (some kind of fruit/vegetable I don’t know)) – (understood answer: ‘ber yaow, mer’ (bored of him already, go home))
…’Gin maak paang’ (ate (another kind of fruit/vegetable I don’t know)) – (understood answer: ‘gang taang’ (middle of the road) (ie. you don’t know the way to my heart))
Are you yawning yet?
Okay – so the fun of all this is totally lost in translation. But trust me – it’s good! Just learn some Thai-yai with me and you can laugh over the couplets as well… or just take my word for it.