2.1 Language plays an important role in assimilation
From above, it is illustrated how Thai-Chinese families are assimilated with Hong Kong. How about their integration in Thai community? Indeed, speaking Thai makes one more easily integrates into the Thai group. The father in the first family who speaks Thai very often has made himself part of the Thai community in workplace, social space and church. It is the same family which speaks most frequent Thai at home among all three families. The brother and sister in this family are taught well with Thai that they can not only understand but also speak it. This increases their assimilation with Thai community such as making Thai friends, working in a Thai company and going to a Thai church. As an Italian-born American educator mentioned, language is an intangible heritage, “a racial memory and a nationality symbol.” (Covello, 1939) In this way, to speak a language means to share a cultural memory and a sense of belonging within a group of people (Covello, 1939).
In the other two families, speaking less Thai makes them less connected with Thai community at school/work and social circle. The brother in the third family could not speak Thai at all. Even though he could still maintain a little relationship with his Thai relatives, language barrier has been the greatest obstacle for him to assimilate into Thai community. As he commented,
“If I have a chance to learn Thai in the future, I could communicate with my Thai relatives and make Thai friends more easily.”