4. Acquisition of Thai language

Speaking Thai or not has a great influence on Thai-Chinese identity. It is found that the more they speak Thai, the more they recognize themselves as Thai-Chinese. The brother in the first family has agreed that language is a reminder of his ethnic identity.

“I am indeed very thankful to my parents who taught me the Thai language. I am proud of myself that I can speak Thai fluently. I know many second generation of Thai-Chinese can only understand Thai but cannot speak it. Speaking Thai also reminds me of my special ethnic identity.”

Also, the brother in the third family, who cannot speak fluently in Thai also has some comments on language and identity.

“If I have a chance to learn Thai in the future, I believe I will see myself more a Thai because I could communicate with other Thais. In this way, I could establish a connection with the Thai community.”

Language is the foundation on which people base to construct their own identities. It is not only because it acts as a tool for people to communicate. It is indeed a medium of memories and culture which can be inherited from generation to generation (Wylegala, 2010). Thus, although one could still identify themselves with a specific identity because of the feeling of a shared past, memories, traditions, culture etc., without language, one could only express and/or practice these cultural understandings with difficulty (Wylegala, 2010). Language is thus the foundation and core element in one’s identity (Wylegala, 2010). Language is found to be very fragile and prone to distinction if nobody cares. At the same time, if one does not often speak a language, he or she is less likely to be aware of their ethnic identity (Wylegala, 2010).

 

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