jai: the thai heart
is the essential building block for a rich vocabulary
of emotional, spiritual, mental and physical states
and conditions. In the Thai language the heart is the
center of feeling, shaping moods, nurturing spirit,
and building and sustaining personal and social relationships.
The outline of what it is to move about in the home,
office, and society can’t be detached from the
idea of jai.
is the main ingredient of the expansive Thai vocabulary
to express deepest feelings of happiness, hope, fear,
anxiety and sadness.
start with the basic notion of heart. In Thai, the word
or the phrase hua
jai refers to both the physical organ that
keeps you alive and the emotional condition and inclination
and state of mind. Jìt
to emotional, mental or spiritual state. Nísai
jai khOO or náam
sai jai khOO—literally ‘habit’
or ‘true essence of the heart’—means
the true nature of the heart, character trait, or spirit
of the heart. Jai
khOO suggests personality and natural disposition—good
or bad, kind or cruel, mean or generous, etc.
these core jai
words, you can glimpse the range of the Thai heart that
covers an expansive, physical to existential, spectrum
of the heart and the mind. Through understanding the
Thai heart, you can also experience the sweetest words
and the strongest condemnations, appreciate the best
to the worst human conditions as seen from the eyes
of the Thais, and see that there is a redemption even
for the worst of evils.
Thai language uses jai
or heart to generate meaning in many contexts. For a
native Thai language speaker, who is raised to understand
is a word with hundreds of shadings, an ever-present
force within daily language, it is an evocative word
that echoes with a sense of emotion. A leading Thai
scholar, Weerayudha Wichiarajote, has commented that
basic drive is to establish extensive networks of personal
relationships [which establish] the basic motivational
drives. . .for friendship, love, warmth and social acceptance.
In general, feelings are counted more than reason.
jai expressions are universal such as dii
jai (glad heart), seaa
jai (sorry heart), jing
jai (sincere heart), but others are more complex.
Culturally specific metaphors such as kreeng
(awe heart), jai
jùuet (bland heart) and jai
plaa siw (silver fish heart) do not travel
easily across cultural frontiers.
the third edition of Heart
What You Feel in Thai by Christopher G. Moore
(Heaven Lake Press, 2006), there are as many as 732
jai expressions which include commonly used
words and phrases, idioms and proverbs, as well as a
selection of 40 sign language that contain the word
(Learn more about the book Heart
expressions in hearttalk
cover a huge range and finely distinctive shades of
feelings, emotional and mental state, and interactions
in personal and social relationships. There are expressions
for a number of different situations and contexts: the
good times, the bad times, good and bad conduct and
behaviors and character traits, compliments and insults,
romance, interactions among friends, family and society.
(See examples of jai expressions.)