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Unlike English, the Thai language is quite traditional. In Thai, you address older and younger people differently. I once came across a post at a forum, where a foreigner tried to explain all this. Unfortunately, his answer was not right. That inspired me to write this article.

There are two words you are likely to hear often while in Thailand, that is pee and nong. Pee which is also written as phi, means elder brother and sister. While nong means younger brother and sister.

Nong is also a common nickname for both males and females.

Pee is pronounced like the letter "p", and nong rhymes with the word "long." Since Thai is a tonal language, the difficult part is to get the tones right.

Here you can listen to the words:

Pee and nong can either be used on their own, or in front of someone's name. That means you can call a person pee or nong, instead of using their name. Putting pee or nong in front of a person's name, makes it more personal.

Other than using pee and nong for elder and younger siblings, it can be used for anyone who is older or younger than yourself.

Thai parents normally teach their children to be nice to each other. The younger ones are expected to show some respect for their elder siblings, for example, by listening to what they say. On the other hand, the elder siblings are supposed to help and take care of their younger sisters and brothers. This relationship continues into adulthood.

An exception to the rule, is that you can use the word pee to show some respect even to a person that is younger than yourself. It's common that bus conductors call their passengers pee. The same applies to vendors at local markets.

Most Thais casually use the words pee and nong to get the attention of someone who is either older or younger. However, in a more formal situation they would use the word khun, which means you.

Nong is commonly used to call waiters and waitresses, since they usually are young. If however, they are older than yourself, call them pee.

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