Thai Idiom about Buffaloes

“สีซอให้ควายฟัง” sǐi sɔɔ hâi kwaai fang

Today I’d like to teach this idiom which has buffaloes as a metaphor for ignorant or stupid people. Let’s break down “สีซอให้ควายฟัง” sǐi sɔɔ hâi kwaai fang:

สี sǐi = an action of placing/pushing or pulling the bow on an instrument
ซอ sɔɔ = fiddle (violin)
Together สีซอ sǐi sɔɔ = play fiddle
ให้ hâi = for
ควาย kwaai = a buffalo
ฟัง fang = listen

A buffalo is often used as a metaphor in Thai and it has negative connotations. It is believed that those days buffaloes were obedient and sometimes ‘too obedient’ as they always followed/did anything for their owners.

Full video on animals (literal meaning & slang) including ‘buffalo’ as a swear word:
Sec 2:06 buffaloes

Playing fiddle for a buffalo or buffaloes basically means: Speaking or teaching someone who has little knowledge or is just ignorant but he/she just doesn’t bother listening or he/she just doesn’t have brains to actually understand anything. Thus, the person isn’t able to understand or take in the new information. The speaker/teacher is basically wasting time trying to teach him/her.

The reason ‘buffalo’ is used here because as as animal, it can never appreciate the music being played by a human the same way we do.
สำนวนสุภาษิตนี้หมายถึงการพูดหรือการสอนให้ผู้ที่มีความรู้น้อยหรือคนโง่ได้ฟังแต่ผู้ฟังไม่ใส่ใจที่จะฟัง หรือฟังแต่ก็ไม่สามารถทำความเข้าใจได้ ทำให้ผู้สอoนั้นเสียเวลาเปล่า เปรียบเสมือนควายที่เป็นสัตว์และก็ไม่อาจเข้าใจความหมายหรือสุนทรียภาพในดนตรีได้

If you’re interested to learn more about swear words in Thai, check out Paiboon Dictionary App (available on Android and IOS) which covers a variety of those plus it also comes with accurate pronunciations of everything you need to know in Thai. Most Thai teachers might shy away from teaching about swear words so the app is a way to go for you to learn about those yourself. I actually taught them sometimes in my videos because I wanted the learners to know and realize that they are being yelled at or not being talked nicely about, not that I encouraged anyone to say those words. You also need to careful with them as some Thais might find them disturbing.

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