Disenchanted in Bangkok

Kimie Takahashi

Research output: Contribution to Newspaper/Magazine/WebsiteWebsite contribution

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“When Thai people ask me where I’m from, I tell them, “Oh I’m from the Philippines or Singapore. Then, I don’t get that look!” A young woman from Myanmar recently told me her experience of living in Bangkok as an international student of Business Administration. Having little Thai proficiency, Thiri (all names are pseudonyms) carries out her day-to-day interactions in English in Bangkok. Surprised by the mismatch between her Asian look and her fluency in English, Thai shopkeepers often ask the country of her origin. While she is now used to being asked ‘where are you from?’, their reaction to her truthful response continues to distress her: They say, ‘Aaaah, Pamma (Thai word for ‘Burmese’)…. You don’t look Myanmar!’ Obviously, they think all Burmese are poor migrants. I stopped telling them I’m from Burma. They react nicely if I say I’m from Singapore.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationLanguage on the move
PublisherLanguage on the move
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • 200401 applied linguistics and educational linguistics
  • 200405 language in culture and society (sociolinguistics)

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