back to article Thailand: 'The nail that sticks up gets hammered down'

Last time we chatted to an expat in Thailand, our secretive subject stayed schtum about his identity because he was working illegally. This time around, Eddie Croasdell had all his paperwork in order, but after spending a decade in the country has decided the political climate was getting a bit hot so recently came home to …

  1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    hammering down sticky-out nails

    More of a Japanese expression, innit? (出る釘は打たれる/でるくぎはうたれる). Next you'll probably be telling us that monkeys fall out of trees there (ie, Thailand).

    1. drb0b

      Re: hammering down sticky-out nails

      You're more than likely right. I heard it used a lot in Thailand but that's no reason for me to believe it's Thai. Much of Thai culture is adapted from other Asian cultures, being a cultural crossroads, I'm sure privwrbs are adopted from other cultures too. Eddie

  2. Bleu

    It is

    出る杭、not出る釘。

    I found that comment intriguing, wonder if it might not have originated in Thailand?

    There must have been some cultural influences both ways when the relationship was especially close.

    I like Mr. Croasdell's comments on a few points, 'asbestos innards' is priceless. Wish we could have authentic Thai or Korean food, but too many people don't like chili.

    1. phil dude
      Pint

      Re: It is

      Spices are what drove the old colonial drive...

      Funny how we associate spicy food for regions that did not get the chili any sooner than we did (native to the Americas, Mexican food is unabashedly spicy).

      Although there is a nice trend in the Oxford Indian restaurants where they add green chilis instead of powder.

      Makes for a nice slow burn...

      P.

      PS. Icon - the only thing that kill a vindaloo...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: It is

        The British empire was mostly a search for nicer weather and better food.

        That's why we gave America back.

        How we ended up with Canada is anyone's guess

      2. Trainee grumpy old ****
        Thumb Down

        Re: It is

        >> PS. Icon - the only thing that kill a vindaloo...

        Only because you've never encountered a real vindaloo.

        The vindaloo comes from the Portuguese colonies in India, primarily Goa, and is a fusion of Portuguese and Indian cuisines. It is more sour, due to the vinegar used, than hot, due to any chillies. Additionally a "proper" vindaloo is made with pork - something you are quite unlikely to find in most "Indian" restaurants in Britain.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It is

      It's a Chinese "proverb" as well. I can't speak to all of Asia, but I've encountered it everywhere I've been.

    3. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Re: It is

      出る杭、not 出る釘。

      Maybe they're both right? I just looked up the expression in Jim Breem's dictionary and I got kugi/nail (or spike), whereas Wikipedia's list of Japanese proverbs lists kui/stake. Might be an issue of the phrase "doing the rounds" (going out of one language and then being brought back in in a slightly different form). The different versions might be due to mishearing, perhaps (an example of an "egg-corn", maybe?)? I can imagine "kugi" sounding quite a lot like "kui". The hard "g" sound might not be very distinct with some speakers, with only a slight glottal or nasal sound to distinguish it? Anyway, I don't really know because I very rarely heard the expression in Japan and I don't remember whether it was kui or kugi, to be honest.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It is

        >Jim Breem's dictionary

        Jim Breem's dictionary has a lot of mistakes in it. A dictionary for native speakers is a much better place to check these things.

        At least you didn't go with the "I asked my wife and she said it was right" method anyhow.

      2. breakfast

        Re: It is

        Probably it started through one, then got passed around China at a whisper and came back as the second.

  3. ecofeco Silver badge

    'The nail that sticks up gets hammered down'

    You say the west is different? Where?

    1. skeptical i
      Headmaster

      Re: 'The nail that sticks up gets hammered down'

      I always thought "the grass that grows tall gets mowed" was more appropriate, since nails left sticking out call the workmanship into question. Happy to hear another interpretation, though.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: 'The nail that sticks up gets hammered down'

        Isn't our equivalent something along the lines of 'stick your head above the parapet and get an arrow to the knee'?

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: 'The nail that sticks up gets hammered down'

        > I always thought "the grass that grows tall gets mowed"

        AKA "Tall poppy syndrome"

        Happens in a lot of countries, even "western" ones.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: 'The nail that sticks up gets hammered down'

      <You say the west is different? Where?

      Well in the west midlands it would be -

      "the tall screw is hammered down"

  4. William Donelson

    "The proud nail is hammered down"

    - an old Japanese saying.

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Don't stick your neck out.

  6. John H Woods Silver badge

    I respect this ...

    "I would have been obligated to spy on and report on my customers, monitoring their communications for “sedition”, and I found the prospect of that intolerable."

    ... but I wonder if you've been following the UK news whilst you've been away?

    1. Callam McMillan

      Re: I respect this ...

      Difference is, here GCHQ does the monitoring for you!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I respect this ...

      It would be interesting to hear the author's view of how repressive and intrusive UK legislation and proposals are vs. Thailand.

      I'm not saying this to promote a particular position here... I really would be interested to hear what an experienced IT professional who has left one country in part because he did not want to conduct unjustified surveillance thought of the position in the UK. ie. police state already, about right, or wild and free. Or. y'know, something more complex and nuanced than that.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: I respect this ...

        "It would be interesting to hear the author's view of how repressive and intrusive UK legislation and proposals are vs. Thailand."

        It would be interesting yes. But I've never been a sucker for the fallacy of relative privation ("it's so much worse in Thailand, so what are we complaining about"), and I think we need to be clear that, inasmuch there are 'nuances', these should not exist at the level of the IT professional, however senior or experienced. Judge says surveillance on those people there, IT professional says OK. Anybody else says surveillance on those people there, IT professional says NO.

        1. NumptyScrub

          Re: I respect this ...

          I think we need to be clear that, inasmuch there are 'nuances', these should not exist at the level of the IT professional, however senior or experienced. Judge says surveillance on those people there, IT professional says OK. Anybody else says surveillance on those people there, IT professional says NO.

          Judge says "surveillance on all people at all times, because we can never be too careful also it is now the law". As intimated at the end of this interview, and also as intimated by the so called "snoopers charter" we'll be revisiting due to the Charlie Hebdo tragedy in Paris.

          How does an IT professional answer that?

  7. anatak

    another japanese proverb

    high trees catch a lot of wind

  8. jgarbo

    Yep. Common saying when I lived in Japan 40 years ago.

    Young Eddie gets a lot wrong. No "punitive import taxes" on Toyotas (Thailand's 2nd biggest EXporter after Japan), Mazdas, Nissans, Fords, etc, only on fancy imported stuff. Same with bikes.

    And forget your Thai mansion, Eddie - as a foreigner you can't own land. Try condos.

    Coup d'etat? Yes, and eagerly supported by all of us (with intelligence). The fascist Red Shirts, led by US puppet Thaksin, then his sister/daughter Yingluck, almost wrecked the country then stole rice crops from their own supporters. Yingluck's about to be tried for fraud, just like her daddy/brother, who skipped out.

    Oh, the old "Thai is tonal" gag. Thai has 5 tones, English has 6. Can you speak English?

    Phuket? Oh, the Ph=P, the u=oo and the k=g, and the t=d. Get it?

    After living and reporting in Thaland for over 30 years, I tire of these ignorant "tourists" who don't speak Thai, don't understand the culture, politics or people, yet dribble a bibful on the situation.

    เบื่อฝรั่งโง่ Look it up!

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      "Try condos."

      "Oh, the old "Thai is tonal" gag. Thai has 5 tones, English has 6. Can you speak English?"

      Try a more condenscending tone, you might set a record.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Phuket? Oh, the Ph=P, the u=oo and the k=g, and the t=d. Get it?"

      Yes, but it smacks of carelessness. Since they are writing a Thai name in the Latin alphabet, why translate Poog-ed into the wrong letters? Unforgivable, unless it was simply done to confuse the foreigners.

    3. Triggerfish

      Yes but tones more for inflection/ emphasis in English, whereas in Thai is differentiates the meaning of the word, e.g mai can mean wood, new, no, (and fire and quickly I think), depending one whether its spoken in high, rising, mid, falling and low tones.

    4. NumptyScrub

      Oh, the old "Thai is tonal" gag. Thai has 5 tones, English has 6. Can you speak English?

      I don't recall any English words with multiple meanings (like "down" or "render"), or English homonyms (like "there", "their", and "they're") having the meaning specified by the tone it is spoken in. In spoken English, meaning is determined by context alone, and tones are used purely for emphasis.

      Does Thai really work the same way?

      1. Death Boffin

        Tonal

        Try the word "tear". Are you leaking water or rending something?

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Tonal

          That's more pronunciation than tone I think.

          Tonal languages the word is exactly the same but the pitch its spoken at changes its meaning. A lot of my Thai speaking friends who are also westerners tend to put on an accent that sounds a bit silly when speaking, me likewise, you can't really get the tones right otherwise. Its also hard to listen to when someone speaks it quickly, you can hear someone and its sounds like they are just saying the same word again and again until you start to get an ear in for the tone/pitch its at.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "And forget your Thai mansion, Eddie - as a foreigner you can't own land. Try condos."

      This is not strictly correct. The land code act was amended in 1999 to allow, under certain conditions, the ownership of land by foreign nationals.

  9. slack

    After living and reporting in Thaland for over 30 years, I tire of these ignorant "tourists" who don't speak Thai, don't understand the culture, politics or people, yet dribble a bibful on the situation.

    Presumably they can spell 'Thailand' correctly though...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Register: Why did you decide to move to the Thailand?

    Is it en error or did I miss sumting, native spikers, pleas?

  11. chrisb123

    Last year I toured Thailand and lived for several months on Ko Tao. One of the British ex-pats I met was a web developer who reported that he was still working remotely for his UK employer but had cut his time down to 2 work hours a day. He would literally wake up at 7am, pull out his laptop, work until 9am, then get out of bed and go to the local bar for breakfast, and spend the rest of the day on the beach, hanging out with friends, and eating out at nice bars and restaurants. The income he earned was enough to do everything that he wanted to do and still have money left for savings, and he had no plans to ever come back to the UK. Seeing people back here working 12 hours a day so that they can afford a small house, I couldn't blame him.

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Seeing people back here working 12 hours a day so that they can afford a small house, I couldn't blame him.

      Being one of them, I can't blame him at all. It sounds nice.

      I just wonder though, if the web dev was legally working remotely, or simply forgot to mention it to the Thai authorities and was living on a tourist visa. These things matter when you need to educate your child, or locate medical care.

      Wish I'd done it in my 20s either way though!

      1. Triggerfish

        From a few I've known doing that sort of ting they don't, which means visa runs. From knowing a few though it doesn't seem like they get any hassle about living illegally over there.

  12. David Glasgow

    Phuket

    Since Phuket is a transliteration, why did the h ever make an appearance? It doesn't make much sense to say Ph is pronounced P. That's why Hyacinth Bucket was funny. (Occasionally)

    1. drb0b

      Re: Phuket

      The h signifies that the p is aspirated. The Roman alphabet is not used just for English so we shouldn't expect the letter combinations used by others to correspond to the sounds of English. The Royal Thai General System of Transcription maps Roman Alphabet letter combinations to Thai language sounds but those letter combinations reflect Thai, not English, sounds. Like many transcription methods the patterns are not intuitive. There are better Thai transcription methods but unfortunately the RTGS is the official one. There's more than one p sound in Thai, a transcription of ph signifies one of พ, ภ, or ผ. Phuket is spelled ภูเก็ต in Thai.

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