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The Fact that Buddhist monks have had special roles and status in Thai society results in particular reference terms for the monks. This research paper studies lexical and semantic changes of reference terms for Thai Buddhist monks in the Sukhothai period in comparison to the present. It studies and collects data from the 41 Sukhothai inscriptions available in published books and online using reference term and language change as key conceptual frameworks.
The research finds 74 reference terms for Thai Buddhist monks in the Sukhothai inscriptions covering various words and lexical units. Comparing to the present-day terms, the reference terms in the Sukhothai period show 2 categories of lexical loss, namely 1) complete lexical loss and 2) partial lexical loss. The partial lexical loss is further divided into 3 subgroups, namely 2.1) lexical loss in religious context but present in general context, 2.2) lexical loss in standard Thai but present in dialects and 2.3) lexical loss in general context but present in specific context. As for semantic changes, the research finds 5 changes, namely 1) restriction of meaning, 2) extension of meaning, 3) meaning shift, 4) ameliorative change and 5) pejorative change