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Methodology

We drew the data analyzed in this study from posts to three different online webboards: Thai LadyBoYz.net, Jeban, and Pantip. The web postings are in a casual or informal speech style, corresponding to the “informal” context in Tables 10.1 and 10.2. As a written format, the web postings provide various written versions of the pronouns listed previously. Different spellings of a pronoun, particularly nonstandard spellings, illustrate its phonological variants in actual conversational use. For example, /?ichan/ and /dichan/ can be realized with tonal change, becoming /?ichan/ and /dichan/, respectively, in actual speech. The other two variants of /dichan/—/dian/ and /dan/—are also shown in different nonstandard spellings.

Thai LadyBoYz.net: Transgender community in Thailand or TLBz (http:// timecapsule.tlbz.me/tlbznet/webboard/index.php) is an online community for kathoey and the first webboard for transgender individuals in Thailand. The webboard is divided into twenty-one sections based on different topics. In this chapter, I consider language use in five sections where the most recent activity had taken place—Armchair Si Thao ‘gray armchair’ (life stories), Take Ya ‘take medicine’ (feminization medicine), Suay Duay Phaet ‘beautified by doctor’ (surgery), Beauty Lady (Boyz) (beauty and health), and Sofa Si Fa ‘blue sofa’ (other general topics). When we extracted the data (June 2011), there were 4,587 members and 548,779 posts in total. We collected a sample of twenty of the most recent posts from each of the five sections for a total of 100 posts overall. These 100 posts are composed of 75,870 words, with 758.7 words on average per post and 392 different people involved.

We used the other two webboards to obtain a sample of language use by non-kathoey women. Unlike TLBz, these two sources are not women’s online communities as such. However, the topics of interest are limited to makeup and beauty, and so tend to attract primarily women. Jeban.com: Makeup Is

Magic! (http://www.jeban.com/board_an.php) is a website that collects news, trends, and tips about hair and makeup. The posts are categorized into six different types: How to, Reviews, New stuff, Question-answer, Salon de Jeban, and Off topic. For this study, we extracted the seventy-five most recent posts to the webboard in June 2011. These seventy-five posts are composed of 42,652 words, with 568.69 words on average per post and 398 different people involved. Finally, we extracted a further seventy-five posts from the To Khrueang Paeng section of Pantip (http://www.pantip.com/cafe/woman/), which is one of the most popular online communities in Thailand. The To Khrueang Paeng ‘dressing table’ section focuses on the topics of beauty, nutrition, and fashion. The seventy-five posts extracted from Pantip are composed of 59,904 words, with 798.72 words average per post.

In addition to examining the actual use of pronouns and other self-reference terms in the online dataset, we also distributed a questionnaire in an effort to elicit informants’ perceptions of the social meanings of particular self-reference terms found in the online dataset. We asked the respondents which terms among /phom/, /dichan/, /dian/, /dan/, /?ichan/, and /nh:/ they use to refer to themselves most often, with whom they use the terms, and why. They were also asked to explain why they use the other terms less often or do not use them at all, and what they think of speakers who use those terms. Seventeen kathoey and nineteen women make up the respondent population, with an average age of twenty-eight and twenty-five years old, respectively. We solicited respondents from within my own personal network, and otherwise through a friend-of-a-friend methodology. Respondents were all aware that we were using their answers for research purposes and were informed broadly about the general aims of the project.

 
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