Bak: Is it a Vulgar Word or a Pronoun in Isan Dialects?

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Sakaoduen Satham
Sirirat Sansamat


This article aims to study 1) the meanings and origin of the word bak in the context of Isan dialects, and 2) the way bak is used with other words in distinct contexts in Isan dialects, with the hypothesis that bak is a complete basic word and can be integrated with other words to enhance its meaning in those contexts. This usage is different from that in standard Thai where the word bak usually has a negative meaning. Data were gathered from documents, including books and dictionaries, as well as from voice-recorded interviews of Isan dialect speakers. The results of the study show that, 1) bak is a basic word generally used in Isan dialects; it has various meanings similar to a homonym Standard Thai, including interesting meanings apart from a vulgar meaning, and 2) the word bak is used to construct other words in the form of nouns, verbs, and adverbs in distinct contexts of Isan dialects. The word bak when combined with other words or phrases can become a new idiom in Isan dialects. Therefore, bak is not only a vulgar word, but also has a role as a compound noun, pronoun, and various idioms.

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Satham, S., & Sansamat, S. (2019). Bak: Is it a Vulgar Word or a Pronoun in Isan Dialects?. Journal of Mekong Societies, 15(2), 71–85. Retrieved from