What did you call me?!
Impolite or Crude Pronouns
Just as there are the extra polite particles (ท่าน for example) which show more respect to towards the listener, there are crude or impolite pronouns which can display either a level of intimacy with or dislike for the listener. These are terms such as แก gae, มึง mueng, and กู goo.
แก and มึง are a very informal, slang ways to say “you” and กู is used for “I” or “me”. You will hear them in movies between close friends or enemies.
Think of how crude we speak with our own friends. If you call your best buddy “Hey, dumbass!” he probably won’t care at all but if you call out “Hey, dumbass!” at a total stranger… he’ll probably try to punch you. It’s the same with these informal, second person pronouns in Thai. Like saying “dude”, “jughead”, or “dummy”… something you’d call your pals- but not your grandpa or boss.
Between friends: มึง is normally used among men and แก among women. (Though, I have heard exceptions a few times. Don’t be surprised if you do too, every now and then.) กู is used for either male or female.
When used with others, มึง and แก display a lack of respect for someone. Someone who is your enemy, a pain in the ass or you just have no respect for whatsoever.
As foreigners and students, we need to be very, very, veeeery careful before ever trying to use these words. I myself have never used them because I’m afraid I’ll offend someone accidentally. Remember to be careful. Being a little over polite is always better than being impolite.
Update: Concerning the word เจ๊ (jeh)
I forgot to explain this word a little more. It’s not necessarily a “crude” term but it is very, very informal. It comes from a Chinese term for a an older sister. You’ll hear it used among female friends (female friends in their late 20’s and up) and some gay men too. Sometimes it’s used like a nickname for a woman and you’ll hear her called เจ๊ by just about everyone. If you’re a foreigner you’ll probably never use this term (unless someone asks you to call them that) but it’s good to know so that, when you hear Thais use it, you’ll know what they are talking about.