Language Choice of Public Signage in Thai Universities A Case Study of Chulalongkorn University and Kasetsart University

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Kittinata Rhekhalilit

Abstract

As a result of global communication, the role of E nglish as an international language has obviously increased even in a Thai-d ominant society like Bangkok. Huebner (2006) analyzed the language choice on non-government public signs and found the increasingly dominant role of English in several neighborhoods of Bangkok, especially in those in which many Westerners resided. Similarly, Siricharoen (2016) studied multilingualism on public signs at the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University and found that Thai-English bilingualism was prominent in the common area s of the faculty. These two studies confirmed the role of Thai as the dominant language and the subordinate role of foreign languages such as English and Chinese.
However, I have noticed that many public signs in Thai universities are written with patterns different from those found in other studies. As a result, this study was conducted to analyze the pattern of language choice on public signs in two Thai state universities. The data were collected at Chulalongkorn University,
located at the city center, and Kasetsart University, located on the outskirts. Similar to previous studies, the analysis reveals the major role of Thai on public signs. However, when analyzing the patterns, I found four additional patterns deviating from the norm of dominant Thai, namely 1) monolingual English signs, 2) signs carrying the same message in English and Thai with English as the main language, 3) signs on which appear a mixture of English and Thai noun phrases and 4) signs on which there is a wider variety in the mixture of English and Thai. The language patterns of these public signs reflect the increasing role of English in the two universities, indicating as Spolsky (2009) observed that the language choice on public signs can reflect
the language policy of the university. 

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Research Articles, Academic Articles and Theses

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