Template talk:Ethnic groups in Thailand

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RE: Moving Mani out of Mon-Khmer[edit]

The Mani speak a Mon-Khmer language; that is undisputed. However, the Mani are not descendants of the Mon-Khmer ethicity. Rather, they absorbed the language from later-arriving Mon-Khmer tribes. They are of Negrito descent and represent an earlier wave of immigration.

Chin Yodee is a Thai archaeologist who writes in his book (ref. 3, p. 17-18) that "the Negritos (Ngoh or Hoh) are of black complexion and of shorter build than the Australoids, only 145 cm in body height and with broad skull and curly hair. They live on the Malay peninsula and in Thailand in Trang, Phatthalung and Yala provinces. Carlton S. Coon has classified the Negritos as belonging to the Australoids ".

The Cultural Encyclopaedia of the Southern People, vol. 3 (ref. 15, p. 994) is a work of reference on prehistoric communities in the south of Thailand. It says that "in the Pleistocene period dating back to more than 8-10,000 years, a group of Australoid people, i.e. the Negritos settled in the plains near the coast and were later were pushed into the the hilly forest areas.[1]

The Thai Encyclopaedia, The Royal Academic Edition, vol. 7 writes that the Mani people "are of short build and black complexion", "with curly hair, savage looking, ferocious like agog" . The Encyclopaedia also adds that there are "people of Negrito race who are living in the central and southern parts of the Indian subcontinent, in Sri Lanka, on the Andaman islands, the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, the Philippines and on different islands of the South Sea.[1]

Despite differences of opinion, a majority of anthropologists have come to the conclusion that most of the minority groups with black complexion and curly hair living in the hilly areas and forests of the Malay Peninsula, should be classified as belonging to the Negrito race. The Malay peninsula has from time immemorial been a corridor for the passage for countless smaller and larger migrations and complex mixture of races has been the inevitable result.[1]

Kevin Borland, Esq. 19:06, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Doesn't matter; the Tai may have originally been Austronesian/Malayo-Polynesian speakers too but we don't include them thus because they used to be from a different ethnolinguistic group. The template is arranged by language family. Badagnani 19:13, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
I see you've listed them in both "Mon-Khmer" and "Other." That seems acceptable, showing their special status as (presumably) the descendants of one of the first migrations out of Africa, as opposed to one of the later waves of immigration into mainland Southeast Asia. The Central African pygmies, with their Bantu language, or the Bushmen who now speak only Afrikaans would probably be similar examples of indigenous peoples who have picked up, and now use only, languages from nearby majority groups. Also, the Melanesians of the Solomon Islands who speak Malayo-Polynesian languages. Badagnani 19:16, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
Fair enough, unless they can be arranged in some other manner that better matches "ethnic" lines, rather than purely linguistic. For example, with the Tai, they were probably Austronesian like you say, but their development of the Tai language was apparently a gradual natural progression forming a new language family, as opposed to an entirely externally learned assimilation of another local language, so I think linguistic classification is appropriate. However, with the Mani, you're analogy to the bushman is the model. How are the bushmen classified, I wonder, in the ethnicity templates of their countries? Linguistic categorization doesn't seem to properly characterize their ethnic group.Kevin Borland, Esq. 19:25, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
Very good points, all. Badagnani 19:28, 2 November 2007 (UTC)


It's not clear why "Yue" is used, in addition to "Cantonese," under "Chinese." Usually "Yue" is used as a synonym for "Cantonese," although using a different character it can refer to people from the Shanghai area. It would be great if this could be clarified. Badagnani 19:21, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Feel free to correct the apparent redundancy. I got that information from Ethnalogue, which lists 2 different languages, but if it's the same "people," it's probably best to pick one.Kevin Borland, Esq. 19:29, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

I just looked it up. Yeah, Ethnologue is using "Yue" as a synonym for "Cantonese," so, following usual WP practice, we can use the common English term, which is "Cantonese." Badagnani 19:32, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Said and done.Kevin Borland, Esq. 19:34, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Other redundancies[edit]

What about the issues that arise in the list where we're listing both names of individual ethnic groups and their parent ethnic group? Is that OK, or is there a better way to handle it? I know there's some of this giong on in the Tai category, and that's why we have such a long list there.Kevin Borland, Esq. 19:37, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

The template can't really have subcategories so it's probably okay, as it's primarily a navigation aid. The individual language and language family articles do show the language groups and subgroups. We have a similar arrangement at Template:Ethnic groups in Vietnam (yes, I know Viet-Muong is a subgroup of Mon-Khmer but it just seems clearer to have them listed separately). Badagnani 20:06, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Central article that discusses these ethnic groups-useful for cleanup[edit]

By the way, I created a separate article that goes into these ethnic groups from the peopling standpoint at Peopling of Thailand that we can use as a reference point with regard to clean-up of the template. The Tai aren't very nicely organized yet though.Kevin Borland, Esq. 19:46, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

That's a great article. I made a comment there about the ultimate point of origin of the Mani (i.e. Africa) which is not mentioned. I think we should have articles on the "Peopling" of each country. How many such articles are there? I presume the "History of ____" articles have some info about this, but not in as great detail. Badagnani 20:04, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm not aware that there are any other articles like that yet (at least I couldn't find a model when I created this one). The links I put to Peopling of Malaysia, etc. are temporarily redirected to the relevant history of . . . articles for now. There's been a ton of recent research in the area lately, especially with the latest Y-DNA technology, and the recent popularity stemming from National Geographic's series on the topic. I'd like to work on some more of them myself, and I'm hoping some others well get on board and work on some of the regions (like Africa) that I know very little about.Kevin Borland, Esq. 21:36, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree; a WikiProject might be beneficial, unless there is one already. I've done a bit of work on the Spencer Wells and Rick Kittles pages but it isn't my area of expertise (though I have a strong interest). Badagnani 21:42, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Missing groups in Ethnic groups in Thailand[edit]

Are you going to fill in the new groups you've added to the template at Ethnic groups in Thailand? Badagnani 21:17, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

I suppose so. It was kind of a hassle with the Laos ones (doing it without consistent easily accessible data in English), so I'm thinking I should get the individual articles up and look for alternate spellings, variations, etc. before I do. That way, I think it will require less fiddling around.Kevin Borland, Esq. 01:27, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

It's a process of constant improvement. The payoff is that eventually our resource is going to be better and more complete than any other single source. Badagnani 01:35, 5 November 2007 (UTC)


I don't believe the "Isan" are an ethnic group in Thailand. Most inhabitants of the region are Lao people, who affiliate politically with the nation-state of Thailand. Badagnani 20:13, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

You appear to be correct: A Short History of Isan: The native people of Northeastern Thailand are ethnic Laotians and the language they speak is Lao, officially called "Isan" or "Thai-Isan". The name change from "Lao" to "Isan" came in the 70's when the Lao PDR was becoming Communist. A war raged along the Mekong River border in the 70's with some villagers on the Thai side fighting with the Communists, and the Thai army fighting battles to keep the area part of Thailand. Not wanting Northeasterners to identify with or become sympathetic to Communist Laos because of their shared ethnicity, the Thai government began a campaign to change the self-identity of Northeastern people from "Lao" to "Isan". The campaign worked so well that at the present time some Northeasterners don't know their language is the same as that spoken in the Lao PDR (although some Isan people still call themselves and their language "Lao").[2]
However, there may not be a consensus on the issue:More than 7,000 Lao Isan people live inside the nation of Laos. The classification of the Isan inside Laos is problematic, as their language is basically identical to Lao, and culturally and socially they are the same. Despite these similarities, several ethnographic sources list the Lao Isan people in Laos, including Laurent Chazee in his 1995 book. According to Chazee, the Lao Isan are dispersed in the Vientiane Municipality and neighboring parts of the Thaphabai District in Borikhamxai Province; while there are also Lao Isan in southern Laos, including the whole western part of Champasak Province, and near Savannakhet City. The Lao Isan invariably live near the Thai border. According to Thai sources, there are about 21 million Isan in Thailand,[3] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:52, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
Ethnologue has 2 separate listings for LAO and TTS languages (Lao vs. Isan). I asked my wife too (she's Thai), and her response was "they're Lao, but they're not exactly Lao." I'm not sure what that means. I guess leave them distinct for now, until we have an expert on the topic chime in?Kevin Borland, Esq. 22:01, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
An Ethnic group in the making? Cultural and linguistic differences between the Lao Loum and the Thai Isan--what the Thai call the inhabitants of the Khorat Plateau in northeast Thailand--were primarily due to the expansion of the Thai state and influence in that region since 1945. Significant political changes in Laos since 1975 also contributed to a growing cultural distance.[4]Kevin Borland, Esq. 22:07, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

It's wishful thinking that Lao speakers are special and significantly different from their neighbors across the Mekong. There are a lot of examples of this, like the U.S. Pima and Mexican Pima. Nationalism can have a very pervasive effect. Badagnani 22:19, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Maybe. I found a laymen explanation from an Isan person in the US as well-It is like a American Black people. All of them know they are decent from African country. But it is not they are African people. They are American. People in Isan region of Thailand. They are know they have some related with Laos, but they are not Laos. They never belong to the Laos Kingdom. They live there for long long ago. Their parent never migrate from Laos kingdom but they are there. The Border of the Kingdom change from time to time. But people live there.Kevin Borland, Esq. 22:22, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
For guidance on what makes an ethnic group: [T]hose human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or because of memories of colonization and migration; this belief must be important for group formation; furthermore it does not matter whether an objective blood relationship exists.[5]Kevin Borland, Esq. 22:38, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Factors to consider:

  • Genetics
    • They're one and the same
  • Religeon
  • Culture
    • Isan food is distinct from Thai and Lao cuisines, but has elements in common with each. (Wikipedia Isan artical)
    • Several different festivals including their fireworks festival (Wikipedia Isan artical)
  • Language
    • Isan is a dialect of Lao, written in the Thai alphabet rather than the Lao alphabet and with sufficient differences from Lao to have prompted the publication of at least one Isan dictionary
  • Subjective view of the Isan
    • Isan people have chosen to call themselves Isan rather than Lao (see above)
    • Isan people who move to Laos still refer to themselves as Isan once in Laos, rather than identifying with the Lao in Laos

Kevin Borland, Esq. 23:10, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

This is very good, systematically presented information. Badagnani 23:25, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

How about this for a brief explanation: Lao people#Subdivisions_of_the_Lao_people? Maybe I should copy this thread to the discussion on the Lao people article as well?Kevin Borland, Esq. 03:06, 6 November 2007 (UTC)


  1. ^ a b c The Negrito of Thailand-The Mani
  2. ^ Comparing Thai and Lao
  3. ^ Joshua Tree-Lao Isan of Laos
  4. ^ Country studies-Laos-Ethnic Diversity
  5. ^ Max Weber [1922]1978 Economy and Society eds. Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich, trans. Ephraim Fischof, vol. 2 Berkeley: University of California Press, 389


"Vietnamese" was just added, in this edit. What are the sources stating that Vietnamese are a minority ethnic group in Thailand? Badagnani (talk) 01:37, 13 January 2008 (UTC)