Pha Nya: A Cultural Treasure of the Folks

Author: Jarernchai Chonpairot (College of Music, Mahasarakham University, Thailand)
Speaker: Jarernchai Chonpairot
Topic: Language Socialization
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


Pha nya, a genre of folk poetry, has enacted many significant roles in Northeast Thailand and in Laos PDR. It was used as a medium by young people for courting, and contained proverbs to enforce appropriate social and cultural conduct. Many pha nya poems embody several intentions, including surface and deep meanings.

This paper will describe an investigation of the meanings and the roles of pha nya in Northeast Thailand and Laos PDR societies. The data were obtained from written documents and interviews. The results of the study indicate that semantics of words in pha nya poems indicate ambiguity, a phenomenon predicated on speaker intention and on ways in which listeners interpret meaning.

The study finds that roles of pha nya in society include that it was used for courting as well as for storytelling, but at present, pha nya courting poems have transformed themselves to various types of sung forms of lam or khap performing arts.

Keywords: pha nya, cultural treasure, folk, Northeast Thailand, Laos PDR.