Linguistic and cultural oppositions in discourse about Thailand

Sukaew, Thitima (2020). Linguistic and cultural oppositions in discourse about Thailand. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The thesis investigates the rhetorical construction of textual oppositions in the representation of Thailand in a post-colonial context. It falls within the field of linguistic oppositions pioneered by Jeffries (2014) and Davies (2008, 2010 and 2013). It concurrently offers a means of examination of tourism-related promotional discourse related to Thailand as particularised in and The thesis also takes into consideration and examines critically, personal views on Thai-Western relationships submitted by contributors to the Readers' Submissions section in

At the micro-level, this study is a qualitative analysis of the linguistic oppositions. These linguistic oppositions are examined using lexical and syntactic triggers. These triggers detect both external and internal oppositions. The external oppositions are those that pertain to the Us/ Them relationship between Thailand and its Other, namely tourists from the West or other origins. The internal oppositions are related to differences among Thai communities. The textual oppositions are conceptualised and subsequently investigated by comparing them to macro-level oppositions identified to establish the extent to which the textual oppositions detected in this study conforms to the pre-existing cultural oppositions.

The significant findings show that, at the micro-level, the external oppositions could be conceptualised broadly into the domains of FAMILIARITY, DEVELOPMENT, and DEGENERACY. At the macro level, the finding reveals conformity of the textual oppositions to the six stereotypes of Orientalism (Said 2003, McLeod 2012): namely, the association of Thailand and Thai people with the concept of being UNDEVELOPED as opposed to the civilised Other. These categories are also applicable to the internal representation of classes within Thailand. For instance, the Isan people are represented as 'the Other within' due to their cultural disparities from the rest of the Thais. Nevertheless, to the Western writers, the people of Isan, as well as the prostitutes, appear to represent the authenticity of the country.

Ultimately, the investigation of linguistic oppositions shows that the writers in both websites write about Thailand in a way that conforms to the discourse of Orientalism (2003), namely in the recurring application of DEVELOPED/ UNDEVELOPED in the representation of space and relationships. However, permanent discourses are also challenged. For instance, when used in gradable forms in which the opposite pairs share some similarities, Thailand and its other are not entirely different after all. Therefore, to a certain degree, the writers both contribute to and challenge Said's Orientalist discourse (2003).

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, Department of English Language and Linguistics
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics


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