The effects of shifting naming practices on the representation of gender in the sounds of Thai names
(Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University)
Paper short abstract:
In Thai naming practices, gender identities can be identified by sounds. Thais start to adopt different naming practices whereby newly chosen first names do not always conform to traditional ones so it is now difficult to identify male or female identities which in the past could be very easily done
Paper long abstract:
This paper is a follow-up on previous research (NAME, 2012) which found that gender identity can be easily recognized by the sounds of Thai names. Recently, however, this behavior has changed as Thais start to adopt different naming practices whereby newly chosen first names do not always conform to traditional Thai naming practices, and as a result, it is difficult to identify male or female gender identities which in the past could be very easily done. This follow-up research investigated the phonetic and phonological features of syllables of newly chosen first names of male and female Thais. A sociophonetic analysis was then conducted and the result revealed that in recent naming practices in Thai, male chosen names revoke traditional Thai naming practices, and as a result male names can be mistakenly identified as female. Number of syllables and the phonetic characteristics of the final segment of the syllable of their chosen new names are the most crucial factors to support such cases of mistaken gender identity. One of the sociolinguistic implications of this includes transgendered person in Thai culture because a straight man whose name sounds feminine maybe mistaken for an assumed female identity.
Gendered realities: old issues, new heritage