Today’s Nation Online reports:
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has abandoned plans to give the water monitor lizard [the] new Thai name of “Voranuch” or “Voranus”.
The creature is known in Thai as ‘hia’. For some reason, in popular parlance, ‘hia’, or even better ‘ai hia’, means ‘you bastard!’, ‘you shit!, ‘you sod!’*
* Or variations thereof. For example, a close friend will confide: ‘Phom hia eng’, meaning ‘I behaved like a shit’. ‘hia-hia’ sometimes adds a cute nuance to it.
Obviously, the legions of Voranuch or Voranus or Worranut (proper pronunciation) didn’t relish the prospect of being thus identified. So they started to call in, and the [deleted] officials decided to back off.
One for the hia!
This reminds me of Nang Leung, the area of Bangkok well known to horse race betters. I’m told that in the old days the place was called Ee Leung, but ‘ee’ for a woman being deemed as impolite as ‘ai’ for a man, it was changed to ‘nang’ during Sarit times. That ‘ee’ and ‘ai’ (and ‘koo’ and ‘mueng’ for ‘I’ and ‘you’) had been used even by kings for centuries was no excuse, right?
I wonder what’s next – the Department of Obnoxious Diseases renaming the plague? Ai ha!