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Official Arbiter of Language

This, via Reason, is interesting in the context of my post last week on English being a bottom-up language without an official government arbiter (emphasis added):

To the consternation of some nickname purists, children are being given such offbeat English-language nicknames as Mafia or Seven — as in 7-Eleven, the convenience store.

With help from language experts at the Royal Institute, the official arbiter of the Thai language, Mr. Vira plans to produce by the end of the year a collection of thousands of old-fashioned nicknames, listed by such wholesome categories as colors, animals and fruit and including simple favorites like Yaay (big), Ouan (fat) and Dam (black).

Korakoad Wongsinchai, an English teacher at a private primary school in Bangkok, is also not sure whether the Culture Ministry’s campaign will stem the tide of English names...More than half of her students have English names, she said, offering this sampling: Tomcruise, Elizabeth, Army, Kiwi, Charlie and God.

Posted on August 29, 2007 at 01:39 PM | Permalink


English is the modern language of commerce, much as Latin is the ancient language of commerce. Coincidence? Maybe... maybe not.

Posted by: Streaker | Aug 29, 2007 10:16:29 PM

The HQ of my company is in Taiwan, so I routinely deal with Taiwanese people with American names. The funny thing about it is that they actually choose their own English-language names...

So I've met guys named Maddux (named after Greg Maddux, the pitcher), Tiger, Darwin, two who picked the name Eunice, though I'm not sure why, one Hawaii, a Hermit, a Longman (think he's compensating for something?), a Marlboro, etc etc...

Posted by: Brad Warbiany | Sep 3, 2007 9:33:32 PM

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