Nam pla (1955)

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Tue Dec 10 11:40:23 UTC 2002

On Tue, Dec 10, 2002 at 02:30:52AM -0500, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
> It is my impression that neither "nam pla" nor "prik ki nu" qualifies as an
> English word. Thai persons of my acquaintance virtually always have
> referred to nam pla as "fish sauce" when speaking English. The little
> mouse-dropping peppers are conventionally called "birdseye" peppers/chilis
> in English, I believe. "Pad Thai" OTOH refers to a specific and nowadays
> conventional dish in the US (AFAIK), and I believe this is just as English
> a word as "sukiyaki" or "gyros" for example. Of course I concede that these
> things are not black-and-white.

I certainly don't think that all of Barry's voluminous citations for
foreign food terms qualify as English words, but I absolutely think that
_nam pla_ is used in English contexts without any explanation in a way
that suggests it has become naturalized. I see it all the time, not just
in narrow Thai-cookery use. I'd probably agree that _prik ki nu_ isn't
quite ready for prime time, but _nam pla_ does.

Barry, let me know if you beat or check the first edition of the 1955
book, or I'll have to get someone to do it.

Jesse Sheidlower

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