Nicknames In Thailand
Nicknames are popularly used in Thailand. Everyone has one, from the Prime Minister to the lowest-ranking maid in a wealthy man's house.
For more than six years, I taught at an all-girls elementary school in the greater Bangkok area of Thailand. Many of the nicknames of my students were very funny, colorful, and unusual. In this article, I attempt to classify and give examples of different kinds of nicknames used by schoolgirls in my EFL classes.
Thai Names And The Addressing of People Using Names
All Thai have a given name, nickname, and surname just like Americans. The given name is written preceding the family name as in the United States. The only difference is that Thais have one given name instead of two which most Americans have. When Thais address all people by their name, they are much less formal than Americans and prefer calling persons by their first name or nickname. My students address me as Mr. Paul or Teacher Paul. Even the former Prime Minister is referred to by her first name Yingluck instead of her surname Ms. Shinawatra. Informally, people call her by her nickname, Pu, which means crab.
Thai Nicknames For Girls
As early as birth, Thai girls are given a nickname by their parents. This nickname is a shortened form of their given name or it can be the name of an animal, fruit, color, taste, or object in space.
When girls begin school, they can be given other nicknames based on their size, height, and skin color.
Schoolgirls begin studying English in primary school, and at this time some of them will take on an English name or nickname, especially if they are enrolled in an English Program type of immersion study. Some of the names are traditional western names; however, quite a few of the nicknames are very colorful, unusual, and even funny.
Some students of mixed nationality will use Chinese or Japanese given names or nicknames.
A Classification of Nicknames for Thai Schoolgirls
A classification of nicknames for schoolgirls with representative examples follows in this article. All of these nicknames are taken from students who have been in my elementary EFL classes.
1. Thai Nicknames Formed by Shortening Given Names
Nickname - Given Name
Pim - Pimnapat
Mai - Samai
Pat - Patcharapon or Patcharee
Na - Krisana
Ploy - Ploylarin
Pet - Petcharaporn
2. Thai Nicknames From Animals
Nickname - Animal
Kai - chicken
Pu - crab
Kung - shrimp
Pla - fish
Nok - bird
Moddam - black ant
Pet - duck
3. Thai and English Nicknames From Fruit
Nickname - Fruit
Som - orange
Noina - custard apple
Tangmo - watermelon
Tangkua - pickle
Som-o - pomelo
Cherry - cherry
Pear - Pear
Peach - peach
Maprang - mango plum
Oy - sugarcane
Kanoon - jackfruit
4. Thai Nicknames From Size
Nickname - Size
Oon - fat
Joi - slim
Lek - small
Nit - tiny
Noi - little
Pui - heavy or plump
5. Thai and English Nicknames for Objects in Space
Nickname - Space Object
Tao - star
Tuang - moon
Fah - sky
Venus - Venus
Uranus - Uranus
6. Thai and English Nicknames from Colors
Nickname - Color
Daeng - red
Som - orange
Chom-poo - pink
Green - green
7. Traditional English Names and Nicknames
8. Non-traditional English Nicknames
9. Chinese Nicknames
10. Japanese Nicknames
11. Nicknames from Flowers
Bua - means Lotus
I always called students in class by their nicknames, because these names are much shorter and easier to say than either the given or surnames. I'm sure that schoolboys' names are just as interesting as girls', however, I haven't taught enough boys and don't have enough examples. Hopefully, this article will give you an appreciation for Thai schoolgirl nicknames.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Paul Richard Kuehn
sheenna on August 20, 2015:
various nicki names
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 12, 2013:
Thank you for your interesting and great comments on this hub. The names which you mention are funny and I have heard a few Thai males here with some of those nicknames.
ketage from Croatia on May 12, 2013:
I lived in Asia for many years and have seen my fair share of weird nicknames, earning a few myself. I guess I had lived there for so long it did not even occur to me about how weird it must look. I know a few guys names, black crow, monkey, 12 gauge, king kong, anaconda, crocodile, mouse, newspaper, fat bike and 6 dice.
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 31, 2013:
Mr. veg, Thank you for reading this hub and your very interesting comment.
mr-veg from Colorado United States on March 30, 2013:
wow, Benz, bonus, beer :) really interesting :D , If anyone knew all three girls he can say that he has Benz with a bonus beer :)
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 30, 2013:
Thanks for reading and commenting on this hub. I plan on doing an article on nicknames for Thai boys in the future. I especially appreciate you sharing this hub.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 30, 2013:
Paul, this is extremely interesting. Most Indians also nickname their newborn based on the looks because that is the only feature that is visible at that time and one needs to call the infant by some name. A nickname makes it that much easier.
Voted this hub up, interesting, shared.
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on June 05, 2012:
You know, Phil, when I met my first student with the nickname of "Piano", I asked her if she could play the piano and that was the reason she was called "Piano." She couldn't play the piano and didn't know why she was given that name. I can only speculate that maybe her mother or a close relative played the piano.
Phil Plasma from Montreal, Quebec on June 04, 2012:
I knew nothing about Thailand before reading this hub, now I know next to nothing. Thanks for the enlightenment!
I can only imagine how a girl would be called 'Piano'.
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on April 12, 2012:
Thanks for stopping by and the favorable comment, Peter. As soon as I teach more boys I'll do a hub about their names.
Peter Dickinson from South East Asia on April 12, 2012:
Fascinating. I knew some of this but you have really widened my knowledge. Thank You.