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What Does "'greng Jai" Mean To You?


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#1 rishi

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Posted 2005-12-28 18:28:18

Somewhere - I think post number in the 40-ties - in a lengthy thread about Farlang/Thai- marriage I stumbled over this frase:

"Ask a farang what greng jai means to him and he will pretty much answer to whole Thai/Farang difference debate in one sentence. I know, it is not that simple but understanding greng jai is one of the most important building blocks in a cross cultural relationship in Thailand."

Well, if someone ask this farang about 'greng jai', his most intelligent answer would be 'arai, na?'. However, this farang is also deeply - and happily - involved in a 'cross cultural relationship in Thailand' and very curious about the Thai partee's background. Could someone, capable of a more intelligent answer, please shed some light?

#2 Tywais

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Posted 2005-12-28 18:38:56

The simple answer is it means to be considerate, unobtrusive, not causing another person problems, etc... But the Thais do carry it to new heights and even now I get confused about it (sometimes annoyed). For example, last night my wife asked to borrow my car she needs to go to a friends house where she will park it and they will car pool to work in her friends car.

Her friends house is just a couple of kms away and I asked her why not have her friend pick her up here? She shyly said "greng jai". My question is why is she greng jai for her friend and not greng jai for me (she knows I don't like her driving my car at night, her driving history is not that great.)? Seems so contradictory at times.

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Posted 2005-12-28 18:41:02

To be greng jai is to be considerate or deferential - to act in such a manner as not to cause offence, loss of face, discomfort or embarassment to another person.

#4 Stephen Cleary

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Posted 2005-12-28 18:49:11

The simple answer is it means to be considerate, unobtrusive, not causing another person problems, etc...  But the Thais do carry it to new heights and even now I get confused about it (sometimes annoyed).  For example, last night my wife asked to borrow my car she needs to go to a friends house where she will park it and they will car pool to work in her friends car.

Her friends house is just a couple of kms away and I asked her why not have her friend pick her up here?  She shyly said "greng jai".  My question is why is she greng jai for her friend and not greng jai for me (she knows I don't like her driving my car at night, her driving history is not that great.)?  Seems so contradictory at times.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



To be greng jai is to be considerate or deferential - to act in such a manner as not to cause offence, loss of face, discomfort or embarassment to another person.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Do not forget that 'greng jai' also translates as 'to feel obligated to' or 'have an obligation' ie..

'greng jai' mummy for bring me up, thats why i gotta send her money everyone month and find a filthy rich Farang to build her a house.

This definition of 'kreng jai' is perhaps one of the hardest for the western mind to comprehend.

"Mum-in-law' wants a dowry? She can get lost, why do i have to feel any obligation towards her!"

#5 rishi

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Posted 2005-12-28 21:15:42

... last night my wife asked to borrow my car she needs to go to a friends house where she will park it and they will car pool to work in her friends car. Her friends house is just a couple of kms away and I asked her why not have her friend pick her up here?  She shyly said "greng jai"...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

... I'd wish I'd had a soundrecording of that one, so I could compare. Sometimes, when my wife is a bit dissatisfied with my "ruling", she utters a sound that possibley could be transcribed as "greng jai" --- but I'm not sure and she always refuses to clarify matters.

#6 Totster

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Posted 2005-12-28 21:41:33

ok.. a friend asked me to go to his house the next day following a night drinking at my place (me being the good host kao jai?), and he would kill a pig for us to eat.. now I didn't want him to do that just for me, he kept insisting.. in the end I said Greng Jai..

After that no problem, We went to his house and ate chicken from the market instead..

totster :o

#7 Steve2UK

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Posted 2005-12-28 22:02:27

I don't want to trample on Stickman's copyright, so I won't copy it all here - but I think you'll like what you read in a short article about greng jai here:

http://www.stickmanb.../reader1184.htm

#8 rishi

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Posted 2005-12-28 23:08:36

After insisting on my wife explaining herself, I think her dissatisfied utteringss weren't to be transcribed as "greng jay", but rather as "nien yay". I'm not quite sure on that one neither, but it appears to be a bit more straight forward.

After reading the stickman page, I realise that no dictionary can possibly help a farang to understand 'greng jai'. I guess that I'm prone for the third lesson of how to be happy in a 'cross cultural relationship in Thailand'. Step one was to learn patience. Step two was to learn tolerance. Step three is to learn the meaning of greng jai.... Or am I sort of putting too much importance on the meaning of greng jai?

#9 meom

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Posted 2005-12-28 23:26:59

Greng what? I've never even heard of this phrase until now and I'm in a "cross cultural relation" for over ten years.
Guess I must be a real inconsiderate sob :o

#10 Tippaporn

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Posted 2005-12-28 23:38:37

I don't want to trample on Stickman's copyright, so I won't copy it all here - but I think you'll like what you read in a short article about greng jai here:

http://www.stickmanb.../reader1184.htm

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Excellent article. That might explain why I've had a great deal of success in Thailand (at least IMHO). I left the piss and vinegar back in farangland (thankfully and gratefully). Haven't had a single fight, argument or bad word with my wife in over 4 years. That's not an exaggeration. Haven't got stepped on, either, not by her or the family or our Thai friends. Not wanting to brag at all, but I do thank my lucky stars, or more so my easy going nature. I hope it continues, and expect that it will. It's been strictly paradise for me.

Overall, I prefer Thai culture over the west in many respects, especially the absence of confrontation at the drop of a hat and lack of respect or even friendliness. Anger is a well and often employed tool in the west. :o And I find it's very true that if you avoid confrontation, maintain calm in your dealings and remain respectful no matter what the situation is you'll avoid a lot of potential problems here. And it doesn't mean that you have to take anything that you don't like. Is it easy to do? Not always, but more often than not it seems natural to me.

#11 rishi

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Posted 2005-12-29 00:06:45

Greng what? I've never even heard of this phrase until now and I'm in a "cross cultural relation" for over ten years.
Guess I must be a real inconsiderate sob :o

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You might be, but how would others be able to judge? In case you really do want an answer on whether you're an inconsiderate sob - please spread a few more crumbs from your corner of the world.

#12 meom

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Posted 2005-12-29 00:31:06

Greng what? I've never even heard of this phrase until now and I'm in a "cross cultural relation" for over ten years.
Guess I must be a real inconsiderate sob :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You might be, but how would others be able to judge? In case you really do want an answer on whether you're an inconsiderate sob - please spread a few more crumbs from your corner of the world.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I just got of the phone with the other half and asked her about this greng jai thing.
Apparently I'm greng jai all right so then I asked her why are you not greng jai when I roll out of the pub early morning. Cause I'm a sob was her reply, so there you have it :o

#13 Simbo

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Posted 2005-12-29 00:45:48

... last night my wife asked to borrow my car she needs to go to a friends house where she will park it and they will car pool to work in her friends car. Her friends house is just a couple of kms away and I asked her why not have her friend pick her up here?  She shyly said "greng jai"...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

... I'd wish I'd had a soundrecording of that one, so I could compare. Sometimes, when my wife is a bit dissatisfied with my "ruling", she utters a sound that possibley could be transcribed as "greng jai" --- but I'm not sure and she always refuses to clarify matters.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


possibly, ' falang kwai' :o

#14 khall64au

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Posted 2005-12-29 00:51:00

Sweet FA! :o

#15 raro

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Posted 2005-12-29 00:57:26

Indeed an excellent article on the Stickman page. Once again, I think I understood the concept of Grieng Jai. However, I thought that several times before and then comes an excample where I think...what the he11 has this to do with Grieng Jai again...

Do I apply Grieng Jai in my own actions? Not really, I prefer trong pai, trong ma. Equally a Thai concept that somewhat contradicts Grieng Jai and is much more compatible with Western thinking.

btw...From what a Thai told me recently it is not just important that you Grieng Jai, but to WHOM you do it. So if - in your judgement - a person doesn't deserve it, they won't get it.

#16 socalbro

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Posted 2005-12-29 02:01:30

I complain all the time about anything in my sight...such a f'ing whiner sometimes, don't think I could stand hearing myself very long really...

My girlfriend of 3yrs, puts up with my moods and complaining like a champ though, not that anyone should have to.

Gotta love her for that alone!

I'm not a bad guy to her really, I just seem to put guilt on her for things my ex did or would do sometimes. Pretty retarded of me for sure.

It might be a good idea for me to get a grasp of what this "greng jai" means to someone as important to me as she is.

It might be the key toward my better understanding and appreciating her and her culture, which might just keep us alot stronger in the long run...


Hey...

did I just say "better understanding" Thai culture???

OOOOPS... must be drunk again!!! Son of a *&$$%#&+%*%3*!@^!!!

She ain't gonna like this one ###### bit neither... well, so much for the "alot stronger" thing now I guess...

...and it's square one - - again...

... Oh "GRENG JAI" it all!!! (I think)

#17 Jersey_UK

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Posted 2005-12-29 02:29:46

Grieng Jai


I will admit that I had never heard of it as a "concept" - Although having just read the Stickman article, it does all seem rather familiar.

My take on this is that it is like "Honesty", where folk are often given the benefit of the doubt at least initially (depending on the circumstances) - but this also gives the dishonest and those intending to deceive an opportunity.

IMHO same with "Grieng Jai" - great idea and nothing wrong with it, but should not be accepted unquestioningly in all circumstances - plenty of folk in Thailand (NOT of course everybody, blah, blah, blah) who are happy to hide behind "cultural differences" when it comes to seeing things solely to their own advantage - especially when Mr Farang and his wallet is concerned. (IMHO nothing wrong with that - it is free market forces at work - those with the knowledge make the money!)

I have always proceeded in Thailand with the maxim "Accept EVERYTHING at face value, just don't always believe it". My reasoning is that, on the whole, whether what I am told is 100% true, partly true or 100% BS does not actually matter to me.......... unless it involves money.

I have found the conclusion of the Stickman Article to be true in that once you accept things without confrontation or making criticisms then the Thais WILL tell you a lot more.

(I should point out that although I have spent way too much of holiday time in the LOS, I have never conducted any business here! - deliberately)


Have just re-read the above and might sound a bit of a downer on the Thais - not meant to be, I have met lots of great folk in the LOS. The place still does me nut in though! :o :D

#18 socalbro

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Posted 2005-12-29 02:41:02

Had to look it up.

กรงใจ

Best I can find is that "Greng" or "Grong" means jail/prison and "Jai" means heart obviously...

Together it's "jailed heart", which could be meant to lock-up, own or somehow clamp-down on someone's heart/mind/spirit/soul... Perhaps something like having leverage over a person or situation.

And/or as in to corner someone's person/pride as suggested in the Stickman webpage.

Any other takes? I only found the words individually.

#19 gareth1

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Posted 2005-12-29 04:29:21

Had to look it up.

กรงใจ

Best I can find is that "Greng" or "Grong" means jail/prison and "Jai" means heart obviously...

Together it's "jailed heart", which could be meant to lock-up, own or somehow clamp-down on someone's heart/mind/spirit/soul...  Perhaps something like having leverage over a person or situation.

And/or as in to corner someone's person/pride as suggested in the Stickman webpage.

Any other takes?  I only found the words individually.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


My misse's says it's some one who "wants to borrow your money" but is concerned that it would bother you so they don't.

Funny that SHES FROM ISSAN

wonder where she learnt that one Eh!

#20 Totster

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Posted 2005-12-29 08:51:18

My misse's says it's some one who "wants to borrow your money" but is concerned that it would bother you so they don't.

Funny that SHES FROM ISSAN

wonder where she learnt that one Eh!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Exactly as I know it... the worry that doing or saying something could hurt someones feelings..

i.e.. in the example I posted earlier, I said to my wife, I don't need him to kill the pig for me, but i don't want to say no because it was a nice gesture. My wife said to say "greng jai", and I did.

totster :o

#21 greenwanderer108

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Posted 2005-12-29 09:27:18

Had to look it up.

กรงใจ

Best I can find is that "Greng" or "Grong" means jail/prison and "Jai" means heart obviously...

Together it's "jailed heart", which could be meant to lock-up, own or somehow clamp-down on someone's heart/mind/spirit/soul...  Perhaps something like having leverage over a person or situation.

And/or as in to corner someone's person/pride as suggested in the Stickman webpage.

Any other takes?  I only found the words individually.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Two different words here. กรง and เกรง

You are right on your translation of the first, however, there is no such term (that i'm aware of) as Grongjai.

you'll find that เกรง means, to fear/be afraid, or awe. and is a suffix for another important word: respect/revere = Greng kahm เกรงขาม

so as it's been said many a time in other threads, a good take on greng jai is to 'be afraid of offending someone'

and as someone else pointed, someone doesn't mean everyone...all goes back to the heirarchy and context.

Like I couldn't be เกรงใจ of the maid (if i had one) to walk around the house nud_e...though my wife says i should be อาย her

though if the made was my wife's mother, than i'd probably be both grengjai and ai ... :o

#22 buadhai

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Posted 2005-12-29 10:48:25

It means we can't ask my sister-in-law, who lives with us, how she manages to consume 20 liters of drinking water in one day....

#23 aaaaaa

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Posted 2005-12-29 18:16:37

It means we can't ask my sister-in-law, who lives with us, how she manages to consume 20 liters of drinking water in one day....

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


wow! that's realy something - 20 litres !

I think it depends HOW you ask that ! :o if with concern and care for her - may be you would be greng jai !

#24 ilyushin

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Posted 2005-12-29 21:31:35

It means we can't ask my sister-in-law, who lives with us, how she manages to consume 20 liters of drinking water in one day....

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


That's a great example. :o

#25 siamesekitty

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Posted 2005-12-29 21:32:20

As mentioned by others already, it's being considerate of, or to be afraid of offending, someone. It's also fear of being an inconvenience, which Totster's example is a good one of.

People are more likely to be grengjai of people that they don't know very well. It's the politeness displayed towards people when you first meet, when you don't want to impose upon them for anything. Later on, if you become close, and at that time you're still being grengjai and polite, they'll probably say "Oh, mai tong grengjai.. khon gan eng..." (Oh, you don't have to be grengjai, we're not strangers anymore!) :o





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