28.09.2007 - 28.09.2007
In about 60% of your conversations with a Thai, you will hear the phrase “same same” or sometimes even “same same, but different.” Hearing this is really quite surprising because most Thais speak very little English, if any. But all Thais know this phrase in English.
It seems to be somewhat of a cultural icon. In tourist locations, they even sell “Same Same” t-shirts. It’s the country’s own little inside joke with itself. I couldn’t figure out where this phrase derived from, and it was driving me crazy. What would cause a whole country to use an English phrase that wasn’t used by anyone who spoke English as their native language?
While we were out at the bars last night, I asked our new friend Neng about it. She spoke English well, and I thought maybe she would be able to explain it to me.
“Neng, what does ‘same same, but different mean?’” I asked.
“’Same same’… you know, both things are the same, but not in all ways,” she replied. slightly confused why I would ask her such a simple question.
“Yeah, I know. But where did that come from?” I prodded further.
“Well, it’s like this. We are the same; we are humans. We have the same heart. We have the same mind. But we are still different. I am from Thailand. You are from America. We are the same same, but different.”
Beautiful. As we travel to more and more places, I am learning that this more true than I ever imagined. As humans, we all share the same universal desires for love, security, and hope of a better future. The whole world yearns for these things, but a Christian, I am blessed to have these desires quenched by the Lord.