There is growing linguistic turmoil in academia. To understand why, you need to recognize the growing importance of academic publications, both for individual scholars and for educational institutions. The average workaday university teacher has two major academic responsibilities: teaching and research. Good teaching, which you might think was the core competence of a teacher, is difficult to measure in a reliable way. Student ratings quickly become beauty contests and measuring by exam results can be skewed by the incompetence, or recalcitrance, of the students.
It’s a known fact that mai pen rai is one of the most-used responses in the Thai language. The three syllables roughly translate to “it’s okay” or “don’t worry” — but what does this simple phrase actually mean? After asking not only foreigners, but also native Thais, what their definition ofmai pen rai is, I received a surprising variety of responses. Just some of the many interpretations were as follows: “Yeah, I know what it means — ‘whatever,’ right?”; “It’s like never mind,”; “Oh — don’t worry,” and so on.
Experts have expressed fear at decreased use of the Malay language in the three southernmost province, so-called Patani, at a public forum held by Deep South Watch earlier this month. Manawawi Mama, a lecturer in the Malay language, Yala Rajaphat University, expressed concern that these days when young people speak, they have a habit of mixing Thai and Malay in their speech.
Back in 2003, Thailand ratified the 1966 UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), though it does not recognize the competence of the relevant Committee under Article 14 of the Convention regarding an individual complaints mechanism.
The Khon Kaen Municipality, Khon Kaen University and the Isan Culture Maitenance and Revitalization Program are collaborating to create programs to teach the Isaan heritage script, Tai Noi.
Without an official language policy, Thailand’s many ethnolinguistic minorities cannot experience equality. This past Saturday marked International Mother Language Day, and while it is not particularly celebrated in Thailand, there were a couple of academic seminars in Chiang Mai and at Mahidol University in Bangkok.