TS4 Webinar | Language Choice as a Political Tool

09:00 to 10:00
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Join Dr Thanachate Wisaijorn (Ubon Ratchathani University) as he shares personal insights from the field into the powerful role of language and how language choice impacts interpersonal relationships.

This presentation discusses a methodological problem that Dr Thanachate Wisaijorn encountered in an ethnographic fieldwork in Ubon Ratchathani. Bordering Champassak in Lao PDR, Ubon Ratchathani receives a number of undocumented labourers from southern Laos annually. Dr Wisaijorn interviewed many as part of her research. When the undocumented labourers were from northern Lao provinces, such as Vientiane and Luang Prabang, the dialect he used with them became really important. Dr Wisaijorn found that using the Vientiane dialect with them greatly hindered trust; using the northern dialect led them to suspect that he was someone sent by the Lao government to detect illegal migrants. His assumption that adopting the informants’ language would build rapport with them backfired. This seemingly minor issue of language choice overlooked by some is thus very crucial in the research process as informants too interpret information about the researchers themselves.

4 April, 9:00 CET / 14:00 ICT / 17:00 AET

About the TS4 Series:
Sponsored by the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC), the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) and the New York Southeast Asia Network (NYSEAN), this virtual seminar series brings together social science experts from across the globe to discuss pressing issues facing Thailand. In addition to providing in-depth scholarly analysis of social issues in Thailand, this series will foster new opportunities for networking between those working in Thailand and around the world.

Please note that by registering for this event, you will automatically be subscribed to the SSEAC mailing list. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss accessibility requirements, please feel free to email: [email protected].

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Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS)
Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC)
The New York Southeast Asia Network (NYSEAN)