Kathoeys’ and women’s use of first-person personal reference terms in Thai
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The study aims to examine the use of first-person personal reference terms in Thai by kathoeys and women. Kathoeys are male-to-female transgender individuals in Thailand usually viewed as a third sex in Thai society. In this study, kathoeys‟ use of first-person personal reference terms in the internet-based data was compared to women‟s. The terms were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. The survey was conducted to obtain more information about the terms found in the internet-based data. Five categories of first-person personal reference terms are found: personal pronouns, personal names, kin terms, the combination of kin term and personal name, and the word „the post owner.‟ Pronouns are used most frequently by both kathoeys and women. Gender-neutral pronouns are used more often than male and female pronouns by both kathoeys and women. Kathoeys perform their femininity through the use of female pronouns with a frequency even higher than women. The female pronoun dichan is used as a default pronoun by kathoeys in the internet-based data while used for an emphatic purpose by women along with other female pronouns ichan, dian and dan. The questionnaire responses reveal that dichan, ichan, dian and dan directly index femininity and that most kathoey respondents use the male pronoun phom, a direct index of masculinity, in formal situations conforming to their biological gender. Moreover, the questionnaire also shows different meanings conveyed through different terms including the only Chinese kin term found in the data which, apart from directly indexing older age and femininity, is used by kathoeys to index experience and power of speakers.