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Anyone who has visited Đất nước xinh đẹp Thái Lan or any part of Southeast Asia comes trang chủ with the catch phrase, “same same, but different.” You hear it all the time in Xứ sở nụ cười Thái Lan. Found on the many t-shirts that line the night markets of Vương Quốc Của Những Nụ cười and uttered by the vendors that sell them, you kết thúc up adopting the expression.

When you want to lớn know if a branded sản phẩm is authentic at the super low price it’s being offered, the vendor would often reply, “Same same but different.” Here, it’s sounds lượt thích it’s lượt thích the real khuyễn mãi giảm giá and good enough khổng lồ buy.

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Some days, however, one gets a bit confused. Like, when you want to get a t-shirt that says Chang Beer but they don’t have your kích thước & the vendor hands you a Tiger Beer t-shirt và says, “Same same but different.” At times, they even hand you completely different thành tích from what you are looking for. And, you start wondering what “Same same, but different” is all about and where this expression came from.



A catchphrase that is also used in Vietphái nam, “Same same, but different” may have come from this country before it found its way khổng lồ Thái Lan. The earliest records of this catchphrase can be traced baông xã to lớn the American soldiers who first heard it during the Vietphái mạnh War. In Vietnam, “Xêm xêm” which sounds lượt thích “same same” means similar. So, it is quite easy to lớn believe that maybe “Same same but different” was actually the Vietglish expression “Xêm xêm, but different.”

Another version of the origin of “same same, but different” is the direct translation of khlai which means similar in Đất nước xinh đẹp Thái Lan. As it is quite common for the Tnhị language lớn emphasize something by saying the word twice, they usually say khlai khlai. With similar being difficult khổng lồ learn, the word same was used as the translation. And, if you double that, you end up with “same same.”

Linguistically, the Thai doesn’t insist on the usage of pronouns & linking verbs the way English does. So, instead of saying, “It is same same but different” the Thais do away with the pronoun và the linking verb by saying, “Same same but different.”



An entry in the Urban Dictionary states that the expression is used as a means of describing “subtle nuances.” When you take a look at the culture of Thailand, however, you will find that there is a lot of vagueness in the way they express themselves. And, hence, you over up with a catchy expression with a very vague definition.

Also, in a culture where saving face is important, there is a need for an expression that conveys that one is not selling the authentic khuyễn mãi giảm giá but is just as good as the real one. They don’t want khổng lồ say that their hàng hóa is inferior. It is just as good but not the same as the real one. At the same time, it emphasizes taking on a relaxed attitude. It looks the same. It looks good. It fits. You can wear it. So, why not just buy it? Why worry about what it’s made of?

It may sound lượt thích a mouthful for four words but in a land where English is not the first language, you use whatever phrase you can rethành viên so that you can express yourself. With “same same, but different” being such a catchy expression, it’s no wonder that it is used often.


Veteran travelers who have sầu spent enough time with the locals to lớn know the story behind this catch phrase do nói qua what you know by commenting below. Perhaps you have observed the many expressions and toàn thân language that comes with this expression to lớn know what it is all about.

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