Thai Culture

Naming

  • The first name is followed by a surname (e.g. Somchai THEERAVIT). Thai surnames are often long (e.g. SONJOHNKOKSOONG).
  • As Thai surnames are often lengthy, it is common to refer to people by their first names, preceded by ‘khun’, which is a non-gender-specific title equivalent to ‘Mister’ or ‘Miss’.
  • A woman typically adopts her husband’s family name upon marrying.
  • In addition to formal given names, almost all Thai people have a nickname. These nicknames are given to children when they are very young. Sometimes, they are based on the appearance of the baby, which occasionally results in unflattering nicknames. The creation of a nickname is personal in Thailand, and nicknames should only be used when invited to do so by the person.
  • Thai people may choose to use their nickname or a Western name in place of their Thai first name to deal with the fact that those unfamiliar with the Thai language may have a difficult time pronouncing the name.
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