Umaporn Sungkaman

Kasetsart University




The semantic categorization of Mon and Thai native vegetable names


There are eight different ethnic groups that were found in Saraburi province; namely, Lao Wiang, Lao Ti, Lao Phuan, Kam Muang, Nyor, Lao Isan and Mon. The present study focuses on Mon and aims to compare it with Thai because Mon and Thai belong to different language families. That is, Mon belong to Austroasiatic family whereas Thai belong to Tai-Kadai.

Specifically speaking, this study aims to investigate and categorize native Mon and Thai vegetable names by adopting two concepts in the cognitive semantic approach; namely meaning and category, for the analysis. The Mon and Thai population of this study live in Amphoe Nong Saeng and Amphoe Phra phutthabat, Saraburi Province.

It is found that there are 141 kinds of vegetables consumed by people in Saraburi Province but only 97 kinds of these are found to be recognized and consumed by Mon people. It is argued here that 6 kinds of vegetables are native Mon.

The result of the analysis is of three-folds. Firstly, within 97 categories, this is found there are the same 82 categories of vegetables in Thai and Mon. For example, /taːlɯ̀ak/ in Thai and /moat haloːn/ in Mon represent the same kind of native vegetable. It is also found that all 82 categories of native vegetables do not have any subcategory for Mon.  Secondly, within 97 categories, 13 categories in Thai are considered as 4 categories in Mon. For example, /kʰuːn/, /bɔːn/ and /pʰɯ̀ak/ in Thai names are three categories whereas they are recognized by Mon as the same category which is /klaːw/. Thirdly, the rest two categories are considered by Thai as the subcategories. On the contrary, Mon people consider them as two categories, not subcategories. For example, /kratɕíap/ and /kratɕíapdɛːŋ/ are considered subcategories in the same category by Thai, but they are called /hataːt/ and /hatɕːp/in Mon language and Mon people consider them as two different categories.

In conclusion, the present study shows the different world views of Thai and Mon. That is Thai people pay attention to minor details more than Mon people so that Thai people have more subcategories for vegetables than Mon. However, they can live together, learn from each other and assimilate with the other language and culture.