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Kinship terms are used in place of pronous in a home or informal setting. The formal pronouns คุณ [you], ดิฉัน/ฉัน/ผม [I - female/male] are used in formal settings outside the home, such as in school or in a business or social setting. At home a parent would say the equivalent of "Where is child [ลูก] going?" Or a younger sibling would ask an older, "When is Elder [พี่] coming home?" A wife might also refer to herself [I] as น้อง/nawng/ [I/younger sister] and addressing her husband, พี่/phi/ [you/elder brother]. Kin terms are used outside of the home to display courtesy and to reduce social distance. If you see a woman your mother's age, you would address her as ป้า/paa/ [aunt]; if she is your grandmother's age, call her ยาย/yaay/. The classifier for counting people is คน/khon/.
You might be asked,
|How many older and younger
kids are there in your
family (including yourself)?
|How many kids do your parents
How many sons?
How many daughters?
หนู/nuu/, which usually means mouse or rat, is also used
as a semi-formal pronoun. It is used to express something like
"humbleness." A teacher can call her student 'nuu' in place of 'you'
and the student can use 'nuu' for 'I' in talking to a teacher and elders. Some women
will refer to themselves as 'nuu' in talking to their husbands or a senior person.
Names are also use in place of pronouns. Names are of two types: Nicknames, given at birth; Given names given by a monk or respected elder. The given name is used at school. Nicknames will be used throughout life by family and friends.
The kin term + nickname is commonly
used as well. For example:
พี่แดง/phi daeng/ - elder sibling Red. Nicknames include colors (แดง/daeng/ - Red,
ดำ /dam/ - Black), a physical feature (อ้วน/?uan/ - Fat), an animal (ไก่/kay/ - chicken), or a meaningless sound (อี๊ด/Ete/,แอ๊ด/Aet/). In the 1980s and 90s, English names (Johnny, Billy)
became increasinly popular with urban Thai parents.
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