Som nam naa is a common phrase used in Thailand which is roughly the equivalent of saying ‘serves you right’ or ‘you got what you deserved’. Somebody complaining of feeling unwell and having a severe headache might get some sympathy until he reveals the reason behind his illness; a late night drinking session at the local karaoke joint. The almost inevitable response would be ‘som nam naa’. A young boy running to get some ice-cream is told to walk, but the child ignores the warning and trips over and starts crying. ‘Som nam naa’ says mum as she picks her child up and makes sure he isn’t hurt. Even if you don’t speak any Thai you may be able to pick the phrase out if you listen carefully. Although it might appear abrupt, when used in context it’s normally (but not always) quite playful and isn’t meant to cause offence. Be careful if you do use it and only use it with Thai people you know, just in case! However, if you use it at the right time or better still, use it in a self-deprecating way, it should get you a few laughs.
About Roy Cavanagh
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