Thailand: Sign language interpreters run afoul of governing party

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Jan 31 17:13:57 UTC 2008

January 31, 2008
World Briefing | Asia

Thailand: Nose-Holding for the New Leader

Sign language interpreters in Thailand have run afoul of supporters among
the governing party by holding their noses to refer to the new prime
minister, Samak Sundaravej. Thai sign language interpreters often indicate
prominent facial features as shorthand for dignitaries, and during a live
broadcast of the parliamentary session on Monday that selected Mr. Samak,
left, they held their noses between two fingers to refer to him. It is not
meant as a nose joke, said one interpreter, Kanittha Rattanasin. We have
touched our noses for years to refer to Samak, but people noticed this
time because we had to repeat the movement over 300 times. Another
interpreter, Juthamas Suthonwattanacharoen, said supporters of Mr. Samak,
who is nicknamed Mr. Rose Apple Nose because many claim his nose resembles
the long, Asian fruit, have called the National Association of the Deaf in
Thailand to say the sign does not befit the countrys leader. For now,
there are no plans to change it, she said.


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