Language maintenance in a rural community in Southern Thailand: Ban Khiriwong
Keywords:bilingualism, code-changing, identity, language maintenance, motivation
This ethnographic study was conducted over one year in Ban Khiriwong, a remote farming community in Southern Thailand now exposed to external influences from globalization. This article explores villagers' maintenance of the local language, Southern Thai. Instruments used were field notes and interviews. The researcher used participant and non-participant observation. The participants were community members. They expressed an overwhelming preference for using Southern Thai among themselves and a strong attachment to maintaining the language, partly as a marker of identity; however; Standard Thai is used in some domains. When communicating with Thai speakers from other regions, some villagers resist using Standard Thai even at the risk of losing mutual intelligibility; others, particularly younger people, are willing to speak Standard Thai, albeit sometimes code-changing with Southern Thai. With the few foreign visitors, villagers use various combinations of Southern Thai, Standard Thai, and/or some English. Younger people and those whose work brings them into contact with foreigners, seem more willing and able to use English. Any future threat to language maintenance in this community seems to come from Standard Thai rather than from English.
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This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/