In Thailand smiling is a form of subtle interpersonal-messaging which runs deeper and perhaps more accurately than language or syntax. Investigation into this phenomena reveals that Thais are adept at performing no less than 13 situational-specific smiles in their everyday lives. In fact, most Thais can perform each smile upon request with flawless accuracy based solely on the commonly used name of each. In addition, Thais are experts at identifying the specific smiles they encounter, and are well aware of the inherent message behind each. 13 specific kinds of smiles? How could one possibly know the difference and know how to interpret each one? Many of the smiles that Thais perform are used to relieve tension, calm nerves, seek forgiveness or omission from distressing situations. The name of one particular smile, yim soo, translates as the “smiling in the face of an impossible struggle” smile.
They don’t call it the land of smiles for nothing. Thai Smiles – Good, Bad, Ugly, and the 10 in between.