“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.
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- 200401 applied linguistics and educational linguistics
- 200405 language in culture and society (sociolinguistics)