Pirated DVD's and Thai Translations Gone Astray

It's no secret that Thailand is a haven for pirated goods.  Handbags, Clothes, Accessories, Electronic Devices and of course Software and DVD's. There are many different grades of ‘fakes' too – cheap fakes normally reserved for the tourists around MBK, Silom etc… Middle of the Road fakes and Top of the Line fakes – some even commissioned by Hi-So to ‘copy' their originals so the originals don't have to be taken out. I'm not sure where you stand on the whole issue of piracy – I think my opinion is divided.  I have met Thai kids that are wizzes when it comes to using advanced software applications because of the ease of access to the programs and training materials here in Thailand.  For a few dollars you could pick up enough IP to bring you up to Masters Degree level or higher in Computer Science, Network Security or just about any other field for that matter.

On the lighter side, some of these pirated products can bring hours of entertainment that probably weren't anticipated by the creators / peddlers.  I'm talking about the murky world of bootleg DVD's being pushed around the streets of Bangkok.  DVD's in Thailand like everything else come in a wide range of quality.

Advice When Buying DVD's

I'll have to say first off as a disclaimer – the following information is purely educational and information has been gathered from anonymous sources 🙂

If you see a DVD Title that's still showing at the cinemas, you can be guaranteed that this is probably taped from the back of a cinema.  In Thai, these types of DVD's are called ซูม (zoom – pronounced ‘soom'),  สายลับ (‘spy' – pronounced ‘sai lap') or แอบถ่าย (aep thai – which basically means clandestine filming).  If you want to ask the seller whether a particular CD is the ‘original' DVD, you normally ask ‘100% รึป่าว' – (roy persen reu'pau – Is it 100%?) – or just use the Tinglish pronunciation of ‘Master' – ‘Ma'ter' – มาสเตอร์รึเปล่า ?? ‘Ma'ter reu plau?'.

Normally DVD's will have audio language selection.  VCD's only have one language.  To make sure that you're getting the English (or original) language of the film and not the overdubbed version, you use the terms:

  • ภาคไทย ‘Phak Thai' – Thai Overdubbing
  • Soundtrack – Original Language

The price of these DVD's varies.  From experience, the price should be between 80 – 130 baht.  The average is 100 Baht.  The price might vary depending on whether the audio is ‘5' or ‘9'.  9 is normally more expensive.

Lost in Translation

Depending on where you've purchased your DVD from, you could find that it's more entertaining turning the subtitles on and reading the alternate story that gets played out as the movie unfolds.  Even looking at the English subtitles of an English Language movie can be hilarious.  It gets better when you get into the Thai Translations.  I mentioned about different qualities of DVD's.  Aside from the quality of audio / video, artword and packaging, another sure give away of the quality of the DVD is the quality of translation.  At the top end of translations, are REAL DVD's purchased from Mang Pong or Tsutaya or another shop like that – UBC translations aren't bad either, though all of these often fail to ‘get' (ไม่เก๊ด) the real meaning.

As the quality of the ‘fake' DVD gets lower, so too does the quality of its subtitles.  Many of the pirated DVD's sold in Thailand come from Malaysia.  I have actually spoken to some people from Malaysia that do this and they have a Malay guy that kind of speaks Thai to feed the text into a computer translation programme and cut and paste the subtitles in.  Sometimes the results are more entertaining to watch than the movie.  Grammar is shoddy and in most cases even the most creative Thai would be at odds to try and work out what the meaning actually is.

The next level up is when English movies are translated into Thai by Thais that ‘think' that they understand the English but don't really.  This even happens up to the levels of movies shown in the cinemas, as a lot of the time it's a lot easier to hire a highschool / university kid that kind of has a grasp on English than to hire a professional translator.

Hilarious English –> Thai  –> English DVD Translations

Some of the lines in the following table had been gleaned from an email that was circulating a while back in Thai, some of the examples are ones that I've collected myself.  I have re-translated the Thai translation back into English (sometimes with a lot of poetic license) to give you a glimpse at some of the ‘alternate' storylines that can come about into a movie just from one or two dodgy translations!

Original English Thai Subtitle Poetically  Translated as
1 "Oh mother – damn! She shot at you with her eyes closed!" โอ้สาบแช่งแม่เธอยิงประตูด้วยตาของเธอที่ถูกปิดที่คุณ Oh!.. Your stinky mother shot the door with her eyeballs that were closed on you
2 "Count Dooku" ( Star Wars : Episode II) คำนวณดูกู!! Calculate Dokus OR Damn well look at me when you calculate!
3 "Don't worry, I got your back."
(War film) ไม่กังวล
ฉันเอาหลังของคุณ Fear not! I'm going to have you from behind.
4 "I'll kick your ass." ฉันจะยอมเป็นเมียแก I will concede to being your wife
5 "Mayday! Mayday!" วันแรงงาน!
วันแรงงาน! Labour Day! Labour Day!
6 "Do you want to take a shower?" เธออยากแสดงอะไรให้ฉันดูไหม? Do you want to be an exhibitionist for me?
7 "Now, you've pissed me off!" ตอนนี้คุณปัสสาวะที่ฉันห่าง Now you're urinating at a distance from me
8 Holding a glass of Johnnie Walker – "I love a good Scotch" ฉันชอบผู้ดีสก็อตแลนด์ I like Scottish gentleman
9 "Hang on." ห้อยไว้ Dangle!
10 "King of Gondor" เจ้าแห่งคอนโด!!
(จาก LOTR) Lord of the Condominium
11 "Fire in the Hole!!!" ไฟในรู!!!
(ทำให้ฉากสงครามน่ากลัวขึ้นหลายเท่า) There's a fire in my buttocks
12 "Keep the change." ให้มันเปลี่ยนแปลง Make it transform
13 "What are you up to?" คุณจะขึ้นไปถึงไหน? Where are you ascending to?
14 "I'm fine." ฉันคือค่าปรับ I'm a monetary penalty
15 (Kill Bill Attack) "Five-Point-Heart-Attack Palm" "ท่าต้นปาล์ม" Palm Tree position
16 "Shut up, baby." "ปิดประตูซะเด็กน้อย" Close the door little child
17 "May the Force be with you." บางทีแรงอาจอยู่กับคุณ Sometimes you might be energetic
18 "Flame of hell" กรอบจากนรก Picture frame from hell
19 "Come on." มาบน Come on top (mount me)
20 "Can you hear me?" กระป๋อง
คุณได้ยินฉันมั้ย Tin can – do you hear me?
21 "Roger that!" "โรเจอร์
นั่น!" THAT person called Roger
22 "Freeze!" การแข็งตัว! Stiffness of the body
23 "I think that's not right." ฉันคิดว่านั่นไม่ใช่ทางขวา
(จากเรื่อง Prince and Me) I don't think that's the right hand side
24 "Holy S-h-i-t!" อุจจาระศักดิ์สิิทธิ์! Sacred Faeces
25 "Come on, man." มานี่อย่างลูกผู้ชาย Come here in a male fashion
26 "Blue Pill, Red Pill."  (The Matrix) หมอนน้ำเงิน
หมอนแดง Blue Pillow, Red Pillow
27 Abandon ship "เรืออะแบนด้อน!!" Ship called Abandon!
28 Gandalf: Dont' tempt me Frodo. อย่าล่อข้า
โฟรโด (LOTR) (
อันนี้ฮามาก ) Don't seduce me Frodo
29 (Terminal) Fill out the Light-Green Form กรอกแบบฟอร์มไฟเขียวด้วยค่ะ Fill out the green light form too
30 "Farewell." "แฟร์ดี"
(จากเรื่อง Helen of Troy) That is quite just (Fair = just, Well = ดี = quite good)
31 "He's falling down." เขากำลังล้มเหลว
(ตะโกนออกมาตอนเครื่องบินตก) He's failing (performing badly) (Said as the plane is falling from the sky)
32 "Uh, Mr. pathetic, you've had a crush on her since high school." "คุณพาเธทิค
(จากเรื่อง Garfield) Mr Pathetic (real name), you have been smashed up since the last year of High
33 "Fine!" ค่าปรับ! Fine! (as in a parking fine)
34 "Oh my goodness." โอ้ความดีของฉัน Oh how good I am
35 "Where ‘s the head? (The boss)" หัวอยู่ไหน? …… Where's the cranium?
36 I'm gonna go to the head "ฉันจะไปที่หัว" I'm going to travel to the cranium
37 "Good morning, honey." สวัสดี
คุณน้ำผึ้ง Hello Ms. Honey (lit. substance from a bee hive)
38 (Notting Hill)"Time for bed." ขึ้นเตียงกันเถอะ Let's mount the bed
39 "It's my father's plane."  (After a plane has just arrived) นี่คือแผนของพ่อฉัน This is what my dad planned.


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Written by

Stuart Jay Raj