Thai names and nicknames


Thai people have a first name, a surname, and a nickname, given at birth. They always call themselves by their nickname, and the first name is only used in official occasions (at school, or on any administrative document). Sometimes people are friends but they don’t even know their real first or last name, because they only use their nicknames. Nicknames are usually short, and some of them have a meaning (which can be Small, Fish, Shrimp… anything, really!).

Bai plian chew

So the real first name doesn’t matter much, but a lot of people will change it anyway, if they think a new name can bring more luck. Then again they go the temple, and ask the monks for advice. Administrations comply easily, and the “certificate of name change” (bai plian chew) is part of the basic documents, like the birth certificate or house registration.

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