Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes Part 122
THE NAME GAME
Hello Stickmanites–Dana here to talk about one of my private pleasures. You know what private pleasures are. We all have them. Something inconsequential that gives pleasure. Hard to explain to someone else and never profitable–just a little something in your private universe that gives pleasure.
For example: I had a neighbor who liked to pick up broken umbrellas off the street like dead crows after a rain and wind storm and then repair them. The joy was in the repairing. He had hundreds and hundreds of umbrellas and dozens of incredibly boring stories about repairing them. All this done with a British accent and a lisp and some spitting.
I had a another neighbor with a private pleasure named Mr. Messina who had seven daughters and no sons. He spent a lot of time in the basement making birdhouses. Hundreds of them. He made more birdhouses than he had trees to put them on. I don't think our neighborhood even had that many birds. I suppose it goes without saying that he and Mrs. Messina tried everything they could think of to impart a little birth gender variety. Maybe that is what he was doing that night I saw him through the bedroom window wearing an Indian headdress and yodeling.
Anyway, I can imagine him hiding in the basement, making birdhouses, and talking to himself like a crazy person. Seven daughters and a wife and a mother-in-law in the same house. Nine women and him. Probably could not have sex with any of them. Nylons over the shower rod. Lipstick on all of the coffee cups. One summer he fell off the roof. My dad said he probably jumped.
And lastly, as another example; there is a crazy homeless person in my neighborhood who makes careful selections of select pebbles and twigs and trash in the gutter and then takes them into the convenience store and uses the copy machine to make pictures of them. He spends all morning begging for change so that he will have money for the copy machine. It's a life. Inconsequential and for sure not profitable but giving pleasure none-the-less.
One of my private pleasures is collecting Thai names. I started out collecting last names and the goal was to see how long a Thai last name I could collect. The rules were that it had to be a name I saw in one of the Thai newspapers and no hyphens were allowed. So far I am up to twenty two letters in a last name. The name is Pichaironarongsongkram. She was a debutante and god bless her she should marry any guy who is smart enough to spell her name correctly after three scotches. Twenty two letters and the hunt is now on for a Thai last name of twenty three letters. If you are Thai and you have a last name of twenty three letters (or more–a man can dream) I would appreciate it if you would commit a crime or cut a ribbon or run for office–just so that you get in the paper and I can collect your name. By the way the debutante's nickname was ‘Pim'. You will notice that short nicknames for girls in Thailand are very common. Names of one or two or three or four letters are ubiquitous and common and extremely imaginative in linguistic invention. Often when a Thai female tells you what her nickname is or you see the name in print the only thing your alphabet trained grammatically aware western mind can think of to say is "What?".
The most charitable thing you can think of to say when you see some of these often made-up nicknames is imaginative. So you guessed it. I now collect Thai female first names–nicknames only. Not formal birth certificate Thai female first names like Kamolchanok or Rachaneekorn or Natharinee or Kullasatree or Prathumrat but names like Buy, Bo, Bing, Bong, Bang, Boom. Maybe in the fancy pants disco and private club circles you travel in a Hi-So Thai woman is going to tell you her first name is Sruangsuda or Khemapsorn or Patcharapa but in the alleys and parking lots and bars and streetwalker venues I inhabit I am more like to hear something like Pu, Du, Yu, Fu, Gu, Lu, Wu.
Why do I collect Thai female nicknames? It amuses me. Like I said; we all have personal pleasures. So below is a partial list of Thai female nicknames. Just a fun thing. Happy reading.
Joy May Nut Ouey Phone Um Ce Nikken Note Tasya Wicky Yoh
A Am Golf Neay Tete Bum Poo Benz Gau Mon Oi Peau
Praw Star Win Tar Ta Um Guess YaYa Yinyan Palm Pingpong
Aob Gigi Ji Koko Maye Nena Pawp Tong Erie Kiki Nann
Auy Aye Pond Send Ronah Sye Teb Tuktak Unsen Ynah A Toffee
Pia Pi Mai Piak Sin Icey Kwarn Wad Yin Ynah Yoghourt
Milez Kob Neon Sugar Gobi Gogo Gip Em El Gitar Gif Eye
Nida Bong Bang Or Sine Su Um Tena Gap JeJe Mae Nung
Nunge Pim Golf GaiGai Jack Jom Few Kem Kel Kita S Cartoon
Sumi Aon Banana Amey Jet Yuki Febby Joy Kim Ploy Soda
Apple Bom Gao Tae Bia Pi Doll Dany Jlo Bambam
Jess Moo Tam Tle Art Arty Ce Jo Kat Maki Neay Jip
Gobee Am Arm Feebee Gi-won Me Bell Fia Ruk Y Goong Cream
Lemon Maui Ninalee Porn Wine Chun Edhel Kiki Min Lek Neng
Pi Avieh Nati Natii Rooy Rikka Oil Thuy Sky Amore Anggun
Nice Beer Dee Bee Kui May Nan Nung Ohh Pim Pop Tam
Yo Noi Na Ball Balloon Bra Best Cheena Ek Ex Fiat Eat
Nat Nit Num Poom Poo Tom Ta Tan Soda Miki Pin Ang
Cake Dang Gac Kaw Kank Lita Malu Net JeeJee Vo First
Dew Guy Poi Jaen JeeJee Beam Edzel Lala Leyla Nutty Um TeeTee
Pookie Wan Pa Daow Nam Fa Oy Om Dim Dum Bew Gip
Dukdak Jina Kwan Nun Paupau Pun Tava Mamee Tik Bo Earn Teya
Prim Wit Rica Abby Angee Ack Ara Aem Aum Bobo Bow Chalon
Araya Organ Miky Yelly Nana Bam Gung Jo Gop Fon Ton
Tuan Ann Cee Cha Donut Cat Dinde Airish Ben Duda Nomi Moo
Uan Nute Ning Kan Meow Irin Too Aump Note Toon Noon Tao
YaYa Cheow Wen Mui Kay Nee Poe Jo Fern Pho Gem
Pung Mot First Noo Nid Som Yai Joom Pee Pream Off Ant
Bomb Phung Boey Pan Dom Kai Muay Neng Tuk Van Nang Meaw
Dow Ead Pen Ann Rung Kwon Ba Poo Da Yui Yu Su
Boum Pant Pom Mon Jay Por Dana Pla Suki Teek Mami Thip Wine
Eve Natti Pla Sai Ya Meao Joom Sprite Nice Fai Som Tan Keem Rung
Ray C Ole Than Gang Micky Noot Pun Thun Thy Jah Toon Prim Amm
Mam Urathai Piano Porjai Pu Luck Janeli Amadis Linore Meli Too Bat
Ing Yanee Oom Gun Poupe Pook Whan Jit Taiy Soem Gam Aed Earng
Maplang Birb Chan Soh Yom Oo Aung Smawn Buapan Vas Tik Etty Ninja
Bam Bam Mameaw Yupa Sorn Rin Mod My Tu Tukta Tata Win Da-ae
Weaw Nuch Beaw Vn Gea Rat Eif Whan Net Nok-Eang Dat Bright Bank
Happy Jar A B F J K M O Q Garfield Frog Gecko Pound Ford Sonia
Nokia Poot Oud Mod True Yes Intel Com Pepsi Milk Fanta Eh X Not
Joke God Map Earth Nato Bomb Film Guitar Pencil Gaby Ratana One Pop
Man-U Guk Juum Thing Gome Bad Wee Pee Pooh Eek
Well, that is only a partial list. Something I worked up in about an hour. Hey and these are just the girls I did 'long-time' with and also got photos of–haven't even included 'short-time' girls (just kidding). Anyway, how about some help guys and guyettes. If everyone who is reading this right now sends me five Thai female nicknames that are not on this list then I should have an additional 50,000 names by the end of the week. Wire some cash donations to cover the printing and distribution costs and I will work up a little booklet that has all of these names in it to be distributed to newbies and frequent farang fliers just getting off the plane. If you meet a nice woman in Thailand and her nickname is not on this list of 50,000 names then beware. She might be from Burma or mentally disturbed or a police undercover agent. But she ain't Thai.
Anyway, did you spot your girlfriend? Did you spot your last ten girlfriends? Did you wonder about the Thainess of some of the names? Golf–what the hell kind of name is that? And I have also seen Golfe and Golff. It's like a spelling contest for drunks. What's next? Bowling–Cricket–Soccer–Rugby–Baseball–Football–Basketball–Hockey (so weird it probably already exists)–Archery. Hey, it's their country; I guess they can do what they want. Still, you gotta wonder how much ya ba and alcohol and girlish laughter went into some of these names. Most of this list are legitimate Thai nicknames. But can you spot some ringers? Names that have nothing to do with Thailand's 5000 year linguistic history. Here is a question for you. If we made a list of all of the legitimate Thai nicknames and we made a list of all the non-Thai based made up nicknames; which list would be longer?
I mean are all of these nicknames really names? And ultimately how much can we believe of any Thai nicknames that we see printed using the English alphabet. Translitering Thai sounds and Thai words into town names and proper names and street signs in English can produce multiple and often not remotely similar names. The most charitable word you can think of is invention.
And if there is no transliteration involved than making up Thai nicknames is even easier. For something like a three letter nickname they take a consonant and then add a vowel and then finish with a consonant. So for example you could have Dom and Kok and Ron. Now you try it. But wait it gets better. If the Thai female wants to brand herself with the Hungarian or Polish complexity of a four letter nickname she simply doubles up on the vowel. So Dom becomes Doom and Kok becomes Kook and Ron becomes Roon. Are these really names or just pages ripped from the fourth grade Speak and Spell English Primer they had to wrestle with as children? I don't want to come across as Mr. Suspicious but I have my doubts about some of these so-called 'names'. In fact it would not surprise me to find that the same woman has had several nicknames over the years. It would also not surprise me to find that when they tell me what their nickname is in the bar that it is a joke on me.
"Hey girls–lets see if the stupid farang will believe this is a name. Let's see. My dog is named Poo and my sister is named Lon so I'll tell him my name is Poolon. He'll believe it. If they can see you naked they believe anything. My sister is getting monthly checks from a blue-eyed bonehead in Sweden who thinks her name is Elvis."
Sorry folks–not all of these are easily sold as names. Names are not pets to be discarded when you tire of them. They are like fingerprints or birthmarks or personalities. They identify you and they define you. And using the letters of the English alphabet as a kind of random letter generating machine does not make them names either. For instance if you take the name Golf and add another vowel to make the word Goolf that is not another name. That is a mis-spelling. I know of a professional woman in Thailand (ok, she's a tranny) who so far has had three nicknames. She used to be known as Any and then it was Sye and now her customers have to ask for Gip. What is she in–a Thai Tranny Witness Protection Program or something?
In my opinion the reason for this multiple names nonsense is because the names were not really names or were not really respected as names in the first place. They were just inventions without heart. When I ask a Thai woman what her name is I am asking to be taken into her life and to be taken seriously and to be allowed a window on her soul. If she tells me her name is Dodo I want it to mean something. Or something. And if a friend of mine asks her what her first name is he should hear the same thing. Dodo. Names should be inviolate. Set in stone. If a person's name is wet and floppy and changeable like a noodle what kind of a personality might she have?
In theory (and often in practise) Thai names for children are chosen by monks or astrologers. Parents consult these personages to get a Thai name for their baby that is auspicious and will bring good luck. There is a system for this. However, the result is often little different than random behavior. Three learned monks or three learned astrologers can derive three different names. So much for the system. Additionally, Thais can change their names and often do. And many Thais have self chosen names because they do not care for the name chosen by the monk or the astrologer or their parents and of course they can change those names. Confused? You should be. These are just the formal Thai names. Additionally, Thais can choose nicknames that have nothing to do with monks or astrologers or the day of the month and the day of the week they were born and so-called predictors of character or life results or parental desires for good fortune.
These nicknames and spellings using the western alphabet give new meaning to the concept of random generating of data. Names can be chosen for the way the letters look or the way the name sounds without regard to meanings of any kind. And of course those nicknames can be changed. So the sweet thing who told you her name was Slut on your last visit has now changed her name and wants to be called Puke. Just go with it. Thailand. A nation that presumes to have a lot of traditional restrictions on thought and behavior but if you can just change your name when you want to I gotta be thinkin' it is a pretty easy going place.
This adoption of the western alphabet without regard to meaning is not unique to Thailand. Other Asian nations in the current fad of all things western have also fallen for this love of western letters in an almost calligraphic way. Witness the T-shirts that are sold with tasteless western words on them. The most egregious example being the sweet young innocent Asian girls walking around in T-shirts or sweat shirts with the work Fxxk or Fxxking or Fxxk Me on them. I can not type out the letters to this offensive word for reasons of taste and censorship but people of non-western nations can wear it on their person in public.
The charitable and oh so politically correct westerner will grant them the excuse of ignorance for this behavior but still there are limits or you would think there would be limits. You would be mistaken. In a nation that is provincial and unworldly and without social or individual powers of introspection there are often no limits. The result can be offensive or startling or humorous or perplexing depending on your point-of-view. How about some of these egregiously offensive names chosen as nicknames? Get ready to rumble.
Hey, let's make some Thai nicknames. We will take the first letter of every letter in the English alphabet from A-Z and then add 'on'. So we get:
So we just made 26 Thai names. Or did we? What has this got to do with Thai names or Thai pronunciation or Thai culture? Do all non-English alphabet countries (ex: China, Japan, India, Afghanistan) just use the letters in the English alphabet to randomly generate nicknames? The answer is that some of them do. The appearance of the western letters can be particularly beguiling to the non-English speaker and the name chosen for it's appearance without regard for what it means in it's native language. Someone in an Asian nation might just love the way the English letters TURD look so they adopt that as their nickname. Imagine that the long flight is over and you see your parents at Heathrow airport waiting for you and your new Thai wife:
You: "Mom, Dad–I'd like you to meet my wife Turd."
New Wife: "I am so pleasant to see you and velly honored–please to call me Turd."
You: "And Mom, Dad–this is Turd's sister Booger."
Mom and Dad: "Well, welcome to England and to our family. We are excited to have a Turd and a Booger in the family."
Think I am being too abstruse or unfair about this whole random generating theory? Ok, let's make 26 more Thai nicknames. We will take the list above of three letter names and just add an extra letter 'o'. So we get:
There we just made 26 more Thai nicknames. Or did we? By starting and ending with consonants and stuffing vowels in the middle it is hard to go wrong. But are these really names when they are not remotely tied to the culture? Well, I guess so. I mean if they say so. Makes you wonder though. How long would I have to live in the country before I was presented with 'fxxk' and and 'cxxt' as nicknames? Is anyone in charge here? The above two lists are pretty mild and the the names are inoffensive. Meaningless, but inoffensive. But try and imagine what might happen with a little more random generating of letters. In theory any name could pop up including some pretty offensive ones. And of course as with all human behavior there is always a shortcut. Western names are sometimes chosen that appear in print. Based on the appearance of the letters (a particularly seductive thing in Japan) names like Zit or Kike or Wank could be almost irresistible. Instead of the dictum 'Follow the Money' to know what is going on socially; just 'Follow the T-shirt and sweat shirt companies'. They know what they are doing.
Is there any bright linguistically evolutionary light at the end of this silly social tunnel whereby adopted western nicknames will mate with formal Thai names and transmorgify into new language bits? I don't think so. I think we are just looking at silliness and fad and unthinking cultural seizure to no purpose and no future. Words that will sooner or later be discarded and left in some linguistic trash heap. Not all pleasure leads to production or influences the future. The English word Dildo is never going to become a Thai word of meaning incorporated into Pali based chants wafting from the early morning windows of Thai monasteries. I hope. Dildo will never be loved or understood or brought into the family. It is just a linguistic stray that has been adopted and then will be discarded as soon as boredom sets in. Again, I hope.
Linguistic archeologists and futurists and social scientists who imagine that assigning value to everything is a sign of humanitarian intelligence disagree. They assume that as language and culture copulate that there is no such thing as an unimportant moment or groan. The beauty of this inclusiveness-as-intelligence approach is that there is an infinite number of subjects around which to marshal arguments for research grants. Let's hear it for career building. In their world if the human can make a sound; than it all counts and it all gets counted. However, the whole point to the scientific method is to apply powers of discrimination to data and then to do some weeding. They do not believe in weeds. It all counts and it all gets counted.
Their arguments always take the truthful and anecdotal form of language evolution history. For example:
"The old root gheue, meaning simply to call, became gudam in Germanic and then 'God' in English." (Lewis Thomas)
and another typical example . . .
"Meug was a root signifying something damp and slippery, and thousands of years later it turned into 'meek' in proper English and also 'mooch' in slang, also 'shmuck'." (Lewis Thomas)
The logical inconsistency in their arguments however is that in the above two examples the progression of word meaning change started with a word that actually meant something. Thais adopting or inventing western words to use as nicknames by randomly generating letters or by enthusing over how a word looks or sounds is not linguistic behavior but another kind of behavior. Linguistically there is no There there.
I don't think any of these silly inconsequential non-linguistically attached western based nicknames are going to last or become a formal part of the Thai language or even become Thai words by adoption and time and transmorgification. And it is either a neutral thing or a good thing depending on your point of view. I suppose in this case it is a good thing that the poor Thai parents are out of touch. Else what would their response be when their teenage daughter who was named (after much thoughtful research by the monk and a donation to the temple) Sumalee which means 'a beautiful flower' now insists on being called Twat. Hopefully the parents and the daughter will all live long enough to forget this ignorant and stupid youthful indiscretion.
Hey, are these Thai nicknames?
Just Curious . . .
–Overheard in the Amari Hotel function room in Pattaya at the 2005 Thai Debutante Ball and Reception to honor and introduce noteworthy young female Thais to Thai society and to farang society and to the world.–
"Hello, my name is Piss and my sister's name is Fart and this is my ancient and revered mother who has a long, hard-to-say Thai first name for foreigners, so you can just call her Crap. Our children are with us for this wonderful and dignified Hi-So society affair. Those two little future debutantes over there are called Ugly and Snot and my new baby twins are called DooDoo. Both of them."
It makes you wonder if when Thais are choosing nicknames that have been randomly generated from English alphabet letters or seized upon with enthusiasm because of how they look or how the word sounds to their Thai language ear if they ever ask an english literate person if they have made an appropriate choice. I think the answer is no. This makes no sense until you remind yourself that most Thais don't actually believe there are any other countries or languages. It's all Thai all the time and all about them. It must be a shock at the United Nations commissary when they find out they have to wait in line for corned beef and som tam sandwiches with other countries.
I once had a non-English fluent tourist in Boston stop me and show me a recently purchased birthday card that she was going to send home to a friend. She wanted to know if it was appropriate. Well, it turns out that it was not appropriate unless you appreciated sexy porno birthday cards for six year olds. So she did the right thing. She asked for help. The Thais do not do this.
–Oops, all of this year's debutantes and their families have arrived and they are making an announcement in the Amari hotel function room: Let's listen–
"Ladies and gentlemen, revered monks, government officials, esteemed military persons, multi-national corporate CEO's, modeling agency presidents, Thai TV producers, ladyboy theatrical agents, University officials, embassy officials, United Nations representatives, missionaries, Girl Scout leaders, cosmetic surgeons, retired mamasans, and honored farang–I am now going to introduce this years group of impressive and lovely young Thai females that represent the best of the Kingdom and tomorrow's emissaries of our proud culture to the world. Please hold your applause until the end. We will not be introducing them by their Thai birth names because we would be here all night–ha, ha, ha. So instead we will be introducing these worldly Thai cultural debutantes by their nicknames. Please give a warm welcome to:
Lust, Lube, Crabs, Gonad, Jerk, Drool, Dyke, Fag, Dago, Knob, Twit, Slapper, Arse, Peker, Boy, Nerd, Abbo, Paki, Shag, Hump, Nuts, Jugs, Nutter, Colon, Vulva, Wart, Pud, Virus, Oral, Laid, Clap, Balls, Ho, Cum, Muff, Jerk & Off (twins), Dong, Load, Ovum, Rash, Scab, Sicko, Twit, Groin, Plonker, Slag, Slit, Scum, Boner, Quim, Labia, Boff, Scat, Puke, Wank, Twat, Slut, Puke, Kike, and Zit"
And people ask me why I go to Thailand. You couldn't dream something like this. The flying elephant called Life would have to dump it on you. I tell you–it made me a lifetime regular attendee of every society event in the Kingdom.
I'd like to be a fly on the wall when these Thai female leaders of tomorrow stand up in their first overseas Masters or Phd. program university class at Harvard University in the States or the London School of Economics or Christ Church University in New Zealand and tell everyone:
"Sa wa dee ka. I am velly honored to be here and please excuse my not so good English. I am hoping to make friends with everyone and I pledge to never do or say anything that would cause anyone to lose face. I hope when you get to know me you will think I am serious woman of mature value and hopefully good wife and mother in future. I am hoping that my training here in economics will allow me to help my country which is Thailand and I am hoping that my international experience will help me be a better person and a better Buddhist. My first name is Rathsudakhemarapawarin which in Thai means 'Feminine Virgin Butterfly' but you can call me Tits."
Now before you jump all over me like a soi dog on a chicken foot let me tell you that I understand that there are a lot of Thai nicknames that do mean something. For instance:
Moo = Pig
Uan = Fat
Yai = Big
Noi = Little
Gung = Prawn
Pet = Duck
Bum = Dimpled
It's an old culture and a populace country and a long list. So I accept all of these and the many other Thai nicknames as legitimate Thai nicknames. But come on folks. Look at the first long list that I posted. Don't some of them look like ringers? How about 'Yoghourt'? How many whiskey lady drinks did it take for that to seem like a good idea? Please do not tell me 'yoghourt' is Thai for 'dancing buffalo' or 'happy bamboo'. It's the stuff you buy in little containers in convenience stores.
Actually, I like yoghourt. Often when picking up some yoghourt I will also pick up some cashew nuts and M&M candies. Are these also Thai female nicknames–Cashew and Nuts and M&M and Candies? Or should some government or Buddhist official in the Kingdom instruct the citizenry to grab the reigns on this whole names thing? I mean is every western food item, just like yoghourt, open for consideration to be a Thai nickname? Am I going to meet a nice woman in the Lollipop bar at the Nana Entertainment Plaza and have her tell me her name is Spam or Sausage or Mayonnaise or Chicken Soup?
Overheard in room 567 at the Nana Hotel:
Dana: Oh, Sausage; you have the smoothest skin and the most beautiful face of any woman I have ever seen.
Sausage: Oh, I am not really that pretty. Wait until you see my sister Chicken Soup. And she has two girls that are even prettier than her. They are called Bacon Bits and Bread Crumbs.
Or maybe not. It's Thailand. Land of smoke and mirrors. Oops, I gotta go; just had another great Thai female name pop up on the screen . . . .
Hey, wait a Thai name minute. –"Oops, I gotta go."– Is it the Chang beer talking or are those four more Thai nicknames? Oops, I, Gotta, and Go. Hey and by adding one more letter 'o' you could have Oopos, Io, Gootta, and Goo. See how easy this is. Isn't it great to be so international and tuned into another culture? Maybe I should write a Thailand guidebook or something.
Thai female nicknames–charming, but like a lot of Thailand you have to wonder.
Original and highly entertaining, the Dana machine is reaching new heights.