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Thailand's new culture minister is named "Beer"

Not that there's anything weird about that
Thailand culture ministry 2011 08 10Enlarge
Sukumol Kunplome -- nickname "Beer" -- is Thailand's new minister of culture. (Facebook)

Meet Sukumol Kunplome, Thailand's newly appointed minister of culture.

Also known as Beer.

Presumably, this is not a nickname earned through late-night college carousing or a inside-joke moniker known only to a tight circle. This is her most commonly used name. It's even posted on her Facebook page.

Those familiar with the baffling English-language words adopted as Thai nicknames won't read much into this. I wouldn't even be surprised if Beer doesn't like beer.

A Thai person's actual first name is often very grandiose sounding, many syllables long or both. Even the most casual acquaintances are invited to use a person's designated nickname or, directly translated from Thai, "fun name."

While on assignment, I will routinely encounter Birds, Ants and Frogs. I recently interviewed a Thai militia captain, Pig, and his wife, Chicken. If you search my name in the Global Post archives, you can find a guard dog named Pepsi, a monk named Gold and a 17-year-old boy who is also named Beer.

Author, blogger and Thai language whiz Kaewmala keeps a handy collection of Thai nicknames. Highlights include Cola, Guitar and Google.

While we can't assume Minister Beer's nom de fun suggests anything about her personality, let's hope it's the mark of someone less self-righteous than her predecessors.

Previous culture ministers have busied themselves with regulating what tattoos foreigners can acquire in Thailand and the non-existant threat of nude planking among Thai teens.

That her husband is mayor of Pattaya, Thailand's notoriously raucous beach town, offers hope that Beer isn't overly uptight.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/thailands-new-culture-minister-named-beer

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