Language Culture in SAN SOMDEJ

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Nattha Taileart


This academic paper considers an exchange of letters between two Thai princes, Prince Damrongrajanubhab and Prince Narisaranuvadtivong, between 1932 - 1943, and uses this exchange to illustrate etymological features of the Thai language during the years leading up to the Second World War. The princes communicate through an idiosyncratic, hybrid language, referred to here as their language culture. Their language culture embodies two interesting and rather unique features. First, it provides a window into how the Thai language was evolving and changing during the period under consideration, and second, it shows the role that English loan words came to play in influencing this change. The results of the discourse analysis performed on the texts show how the changes manifested themselves in four principal ways: (1) the use of apostrophes for separating and emphasizing Pali and Sanskrit words; (2) variation in the number of consonants found surrounding vowels; (3) differences in modern day spellings through the omission of the contemporary short vowel marker or Maitaikhu ( ็) , and (4) a textual style that resembles and predates the refrains often encountered in today's karaoke music. Of particular interest is how borrowed words, particularly English words, were transformed in various ways both in terms of their orthography and their semantic denotative and connotative meanings. While some words retained their original English spellings, others were transliterated into Thai. Likewise, in terms of meaning some borrowed words maintained their original meanings while others were subject to either restrictive specificity or semantic expansion. Altogether, the princes' letters provide a remarkable glimpse into a fascinating period when the Thai language was undergoing considerable change.


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Taileart, N. . (2019). Language Culture in SAN SOMDEJ. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Suratthani Rajabhat University, 11(1), 17–39. Retrieved from
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