Pain language: A Thai case study

Patharakorn, Patharaorn (2010). Pain language: A Thai case study M.A. Thesis, School of Languages and Comp Cultural Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Patharakorn, Patharaorn
Thesis Title Pain language: A Thai case study
School, Centre or Institute School of Languages and Comp Cultural Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010
Thesis type M.A. Thesis
Open Access Status Other
Supervisor Sussex, Roly
Total pages 82
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Subjects L
970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
200405 Language in Culture and Society (Sociolinguistics)
Abstract/Summary This research is a case study which investigates how pain is verbally expressed (henceforth „pain language‟) in Thai. Given the subjective and private nature of pain, people have to rely to a significant degree on language as a tool to communicate this unpleasant experience to others. However, with a few exceptions linguistics and applied linguistics have almost entirely ignored this area of study, and the work which has been very much dominant in the study of pain language is the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ), which is a lexical test instrument developed primarily from the medical and clinical perspectives. The present study, therefore, offers a complementary perspective and new evidence to understanding the MPQ from the viewpoint of applied linguistics. It aims at finding out (1) whether the Thai-MPQ is recognisable for Thai native speaker, (2) and how Thai language construes pain experiences based broadly on Halliday‟s functional linguistics framework. Thai is the researcher‟s native language, and the present research is a case study of evidence drawn from pain language data in Thai. To elicit a written description for a recollected painful experience, 45 Thai students studying in an Australian university completed a questionnaire. Among this group of participants, ten students also provided data for Thai pain language in spoken use. The data was transcribed and then analysed using the Thai Concordance package. The findings show that Thai-MPQ word list is a poor fit for pain language communicated in Thai, due to the internal inconsistencies between some of the Thai versions and the conventional understanding of pain in Thai, and also the macro-level incompatibility between the construal of pain in Thai and the original version of MPQ in English. It is also evident that Thai pain language relies heavily on the use of verbs, with 77 percent of the utterances – unlike English – framing pain as a process. Among many verbs, the two most often occurring items are เจ็บ /ʨep/, which denotes a kind of pain that is focussed, and ofwhich the cause is visible, and ปวด /puad/, which denotes a kind of pain that is dense, continuous, and resides deeper inside the body. This reveals that pain in Thai language has been viewed as an active and dynamic process with the speaker‟s self being highly involved directly in the process itself, which is a key factor affecting how Thai speakers communicate their pain in authentic Thai settings as well as in intercultural bilingual contexts between Thai and English.
Keyword pain
language and culture

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Created: Fri, 13 Aug 2010, 15:34:40 EST by Jo Grimmond on behalf of School of Languages and Cultures