Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Debating the Bear

What are the best Thai language sources for international news?

Kikiat has a great page linking to newspaper websites from Thailand. I've been reading the international news at Naew Na (แนวหน้า), dictionary in hand, and I'm finally at the point where I can make sense out of many articles. This is a big improvement over a year ago, when I could barely read Thai at all.

News about the U.S. is by far the easiest to understand, because I'm often already familiar with the situations and events. News about Thailand and Southeast Asia is very difficult, since there's a presumed knowledge of people, places, and political parties that are less prevalent in the American media. I look forward to the day that I can easily follow news about Thailand, especially since Thai politics are so interesting at this point in history.

Today, Naew Na has a headline about George Bush "arguing with the bear" in advance of the G-8 summit. My wife had to explain that the bear refers to Russia. In hindsite, the meaning is obvious; even the U.S. media used to represent the Soviet Union by a bear. The symbol is less common in the U.S. media since the end of the Cold War, and it would be unusual for it to appear in a U.S. headline.

I wonder whether the U.S. media uses similar idioms in their headlines, but I don't notice, since I understand the meaning.


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rikker said...

While not quite the same thing, this strikes me as similar to the use of metonyms in U.S. journalism. Things like "the crown" to refer to the British monarchy, for example, where a part of something is used to refer to the whole.

I think any news-reading native English speaker would understand a headline like "Redmond responds to open source threat" to mean not literally the city in Washington, but Microsoft Corporation, headquartered in Redmond.

Likewise, Wall Street refers to the U.S. financial markets at large, regardless of physical location, Hollywood means the greater film industry; the Pentagon = U.S. Department of Defense; the Kremlin once meant the entire Russian government--the list goes on.

Thailand has a series of nicknames they use for different countries. I'm not entirely up on what's current, but a couple I've seen used are เมืองผู้ดี for England, and เมืองน้ำหอม for France. This makes me go want to learn more of these nicknames... :)

Scott Imig said...

I agree, those are similar patterns from U.S. journalism. It's interesting how they vary from country to country.

Those are interesting nicknames for countries. I had never heard them before, but my wife was familiar with them.

I'm enjoying your blog, by the way.