Thai Government: Call Your Kid Fat, Please


The Thai government will publish a handbook of nicknames, reports The New York Times, to combat a rising wave of decidedly non-Thai monikers:

To the consternation of some nickname purists, children are being given such offbeat English-language nicknames as Mafia or Seven — as in 7-Eleven, the convenience store.

With help from language experts at the Royal Institute, the official arbiter of the Thai language, Mr. Vira plans to produce by the end of the year a collection of thousands of old-fashioned nicknames, listed by such wholesome categories as colors, animals and fruit and including simple favorites like Yaay (big), Ouan (fat) and Dam (black).

Korakoad Wongsinchai, an English teacher at a private primary school in Bangkok, is also not sure whether the Culture Ministry's campaign will stem the tide of English names…More than half of her students have English names, she said, offering this sampling: Tomcruise, Elizabeth, Army, Kiwi, Charlie and God.

Also in use among less-than-subtle Thai parents: Money, Bonus, and Bank.

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  2. Seven? Seriously? Maybe they’re naming kids Soda as well.

  3. What is the Thai translation for “Big Gulp”?

  4. Seven – as in 7-Eleven

    As in Seinfeld, you mean.

    If I were to breed I’d name the fruit of my loins Cash Money de stijl. It has a nice ring to it.

  5. Ah, the good old days, back when “fat” meant “not starving.”

  6. SMACKY,


  7. It’s official: we have ruined everything.

  8. I was in the Phra Nang peninsula in May of this year. My waiter told me his nickname was “Beer, as in drink”.

  9. What could be cooler than Long Duk Dong?

    I once met a kid named “Bong”. How cool is that?

  10. “No more yankie my wankie. The Donger need food.”

    —-Long Duk Dong

  11. Dan T wrote:
    It’s official: we have ruined everything.

    In other words, the Phat lady has sung?

  12. how about:
    Airwick (girl)

  13. How about 2000 Flushes? It has a contemporary Western origin, while still maintaining that air of Eastern mystique.

  14. Is it Charlie and God separately or is the nickname “Charlie and God”, because if so, that could very well be the coolest nickname ever.

  15. Dan T.
    It’s official: we have ruined everything.

    You make even less sense than usual. Did that bizarre Inca fruit called the tomato ruin Italian cuisine, or make it even better?

    I’m not ruining America if I occasionally watch a Bollywood instead of Hollywood movie.

  16. Thomas and Elizabeth from the Hebrew via the Gospells
    Charlie from the German word for man
    Army from Midevil Latin via Anglo-French
    Kiwi from the Maori word for local birds

    English is an odd language. There are hardly any English words in it.

  17. Indian boy asks his Father, “How does the tribe come up with our names?”
    “Well, the proud father looks outside teepee when baby is born and names it after the first thing it sees. Your playmate’s father saw
    a Running Deer. Your sister is Morning Star, because that first thing I see.”
    “Thanks Father, that explains everything.”
    “You’re welcome, Two Dogs F**king.”

  18. Wait, these are NICKNAMES, aren’t they? Go to any Puerto Rican or Italian neighborhood and you’ll hear similar. Caballo, Bracers, Microfono (for a skinny kid with a big afro)Eyelashes, Puma, The Fern, Pepsicola, Coffeecake, etc.

  19. How about kids on a diet? Will they be Lo Phat?

  20. I remember an Alfred Bester character named Fee-Five Grauman’s Chinese. If I remember, because she was born in that restaurant.

  21. “Charlie and God” would be the sweetest nickname ever. Just “Charlie” is too Vietnam and just “God” is…well, I mean you can’t really live up to that. “Hey, who’re you?” “I’m God.” “…….”

    My friends call me whiskers because I’m curious like a cat.

  22. How about kids on a diet? Will they be Lo Phat?

    Phat Lo, I think. Does the surname-first rule apply in Thailand?

  23. The thing about profiling: the profilers were right. The guy who set off the bomb met their profile very closely.

    Just as the people who commit suicide bombings meet the “youngish Muslim, probably male” profile very closely. It’s not the profile that’s the problem, it’s the belief that it is appropriate to harrass people based on their compatibility with a profile that’s the problem.

    I’m looking at you, Malkin.

  24. Curse you, joepboyle!

    *turns into stone*

  25. Who are we to laugh. Our youth tattoo themselves with Chinese/Japanese characters. They think it says something like “Wisdom” or “Peace” and it’s really the character for “Yellow Dog” or “Douchebag”.

  26. I hadn’t realized that Thai infulence was so pervasive in the hip-hop community.

  27. English is an odd language. There are hardly any English words in it.

    About a third of them are of Old English or Old Norse derivation. Which misstates the importance of “native” English vocabulary, since the majority of words you actually use are “native.”

    English is the slut of languages, though. And yes, I know I’m being overly pedantic in response to an off-the-cuff, humorous comment. Why do you ask? 🙂

  28. What is the Thai translation for “Big Gulp”?

    That may be quite universal.

  29. Joe, just to recap. Last Friday a sweet client gave me THREE (count ’em) bottles of Columbia Crest Merlot (2004). I’ve only got one left and I’m pretty despondent about that.

  30. There’s a Thai place over by the Santa Monica airport where you can get Scorpions on Shrimp Toast (swear to god, not making that up). I figure Scorpions on Shrimp Toast is more serious than naming your kid FAT or SEVEN.

  31. Who are we to laugh. Our youth tattoo themselves with Chinese/Japanese characters. They think it says


  32. I met a guy in Thailand with the nickname “Mood.” I liked that. To me, seems like an improvement on “Dam” for ‘black,’ especially since they think darker skin is ugly there. They often use nicknames as their real names can be really really long.

  33. Incidentally, I remember that some parents had named their kid “Satan” in Japan some years back. The government made them change the name, saying it was akin to child abuse. I’m not sure if they were prosecuted.

  34. Phat Lo, I think. Does the surname-first rule apply in Thailand?


  35. I have a cousin, an electrician, who works with
    illegal aliens. They nicknamed him “Timba” and he confused it with “Simba” as the lion in whatever it’s in (Disney?). He liked it until he found out they were making fun of his beer belly…

    Good luck,

  36. ChrisL,
    Don’t act like you don’t know it’s The Lion King.

  37. Seven? Seriously? Maybe they’re naming kids Soda as well.

    I went to college with a Thai lass called Pop.

    Wait, these are NICKNAMES, aren’t they?

    Please correct me if you know better, but my understanding is that the Thai tradition is to give children both a name and a nickname, something relatively official rather than how Americans acquire nicknames. “Nickname” is the closest American translation, but it is more like having two first names, which might be used in different contexts. So “Pop” was also “Wishaya.” Or perhaps the other way around.

  38. Zubon,
    I think that’s about right. They have an official name and one that they go by informally.

    The Thai phrase that roughly translates for nickname is “chu len” – “chu” means “name” and “len” means “play” approximately. To joke is “put len”: literally, “word play” even though their jokes aren’t just puns.

  39. I’ve always liked the name from Catch 22… the dad filled out the birth certificate and called his son Major (first name) Major (middle name) and Major (last name).

    So… when the kid grew up and joined the Army, “it was only a matter of time”.

    “You can go right in. The Major is out.”


  40. “Mommy, how did I get my name?”

    “Well, it’s like this, Broken Rubber…”

  41. Time: 1959
    Place: Phorzhiem, Germany, Air Force Detachment
    Commander named Sergeant,
    Rank: Major
    Oddly enough, the sergeant major’s name was Starr, in real life, Bart Starr’s father

    Oops, name dropping again

  42. Cracker Boy & jimmy smith

    Along the same lines as your posts, police officers in former British colonies are generally referred to as “Constables”. Naturally, there are a fair number of police officers identified as “Constable Constable”.

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