I finally signed back into tumblr after years because I wanted to ask this lol. But I really loved your posts breaking down the linguistic interactions between Thai BL couples, like who speaks in what way. I’m super new to listening to Thai so I wasn’t even tracking these things, but it’s fascinating! What are some couples that you think are linguistically interesting/non-standard in the way they interact with each other?
omg what a great ask, thank you so much for coming back to me
LINGUISTICALLY FASCINATING BL COUPLES!
Ooo, well if it's been a while since you've been here I took a stab at couple's with a flipped seme/uke dynamic and how that might effect the use of formal (pom/phi) or informal (guu/mueng) pronouns across an age gap.
Which is to say: couples where linguistically the dominance is switched, younger seme (linguistically weak position) aggressively goes after an older uke, and how that's handled by the language. (Since the language itself has dominance coded into it in favor of older = more social power.) So MingKit, KongArthit, SoloGui and so forth.
That said, my absolute favorite couples from a purely linguistic standpoint are...
drum roll please!
Favorite Thai BL couples purely on the basis of language
Sun & Sky in Golden Blood.
They are the same age and so we’d expect them to use guu/mueng but because Sun is considered so much lower status by the narrative, his language is very adult, stilted, and formal with Sky. Even as they fall in love. So I find them interesting from a social-class perspective.
Ae & Pete in Love By Chance.
They are the strongest contrast in language ever put into a BL. They are the same age and in university so we would expect them to use informal particles and pronouns. But instead, Pete is ultra formal high register, and Ae is ultra rude to the point of crassness with his low register. They are a couple you can use to train your ear to the two extremes of Thai linguistics.
Gene & Sib in Lovely Writer.
Their language with each other is constantly discussed and constantly evolves as their relationship evolves, plus it’s contrasted to how they spoke as kids (when the politeness code was rigidly enforced upon them). As such, their pronouns and honorifics are a plot point. It’s really cool.
Solo & Gui in Oxygen.
They are the opposite of Gene & Sib. They also negotiate their pronouns and modes of address because the seme is younger but they do so with precision and clarity. When Solo asks to drop the P’Gui for Guitar it is absolutely a request for proprietary claim and power. Because Nut has this amazing voice you can hear it, every single time he says Guitar after that, how honored he is to have been extended the privilege. Because of this one agreement, they stay formal with each other but with this tiny special uniquely intimate exception that makes their dynamic and relationship crystal clear and super soft, both to the world and each other.
Duen and Bohn in My Engineer.
If Ae is the rudest seme in Thai BL, Duen is the rudest uke. Another one where the mode of address is a plot point and mostly used for humor to surprise everyone around them. Because of the way Duen talks to Bohn, surrounding characters are always assuming the wrong/right/crazy with regards to their relationship. Duen is a linguistic brat and I love him for it. I’m not wild about them as a couple, but I love the way they talk to each other.
Bun & Tan in Manner of Death.
I pick them because they talk like formal adults to each other. (I may have used this to argue that this series isn’t technically BL, it’s grown up gay romantic suspense). This is worth watching because if you travel to Thailand, this is how you should probably talk when you’re there.
Pick & Rome in Puppy Honey.
I know a weird one to choose, because they speak exactly as you would expect with a younger uke (formal) and older seme (rude). But Pick is SO RUDE and such an asshole, that his informal language is actually taken as a kind of encouragement by Rome, and it works with the narrative organically as a result. Because it IS a kind of encouragement.
Dean & Pharm in Until We Meet Again.
As above this is a typical linguistic pairing, older seme with young uke, so no conflict within the language of formality. But the interesting thing about these two is how very VERY formal they BOTH are with each other. Although he certainly could, Dean almost never uses guu/mueng with Pharm. He uses names mostly.
Also Dean alone is very interesting as a spoken character - the way he talks is curt and sharp. He rarely uses polite particles at all and yet he’s regarded with respect and fear, not distain. It’s really interesting to listen to Ohm speak this role. He manages to play Dean as sublimely stern but simultaneously so gentle with Pharm... but ONLY Pharm, and he does a lot of that with his voice.
Love &... everyone in Great Men Academy.
Love is a girl trapped in a boy’s body and so her language is... borked to say the least. (Because Thai formal pronouns carry gender attached, Love has to suddenly speak to anyone older than herself as a boy - after 14 years of doing it as a girl.) I want to do a rewatch of GMA specifically to pay attention to how they handle the language. The first time I didn’t catch what I should have. I’m sure there’s comedy and pathos in there that I missed. Plus, this is a really good show.
For those interested, here's all my stuff on Thai language intersecting with BL specifically.
Explaining Thai to the Casual BL Watcher - It Has Registers (this one has been updated with 2020 & 2021 couples like Nubsib & Gene from Lovely Writer)
Thai Pronouns & Honorifics when Seme/Uke is Involved
Linguistic Fun In Thai BL - (also updated with some interesting twists on the BL dynamic like what happens when the seme is the employee of the uke e.g. Sun & Sky in Golden Blood)
Thai Nouns Are Great
Thai Verbs Are Great
Thai Verb “to be”
Explain that Word? Ter (this one just showed up in Love Area in the play within the drama)
You didn’t ask for it but you’re getting it anyway:
Non-Thai BLs that are ALSO super linguistically interesting
In this Japanese BL you can see the main couple grapple with the formalities of Japanese pitted against dating someone of the same sex and also a younger seme, Seryou, and an older uke, Yuzuru.
Japanese is an incredibly formal language so when Seryou asks to call Yuzuru (an older boy) by his first name it is more than just significant it is a little rude and implies dating (he didn’t even call his ex gf by her first name). He can only risk it with Yuzuru because of Yuzuru’s openly casual and blunt personality.
Also listen for that -kun honorific, it’s always a plot point. Finally, the way Seryou says senpai (the honorific for someone older/more experienced) to Yuzuru is tonally so cheerful and cute, it’s clearly affectionate.
Because of You
This is a Taiwanese BL but the main seme character is played by a Korean actor, who speak Korean in the drama, while most of the rest of the cast speak Mandarin. His uke counterpart speaks both languages. It’s fun to watch the drama itself play with the contrasting languages. Also it manages to make Korean seem sooooooo sexy.
We Best Love: Fighting Mr Second.
Yu (Japanese name: Maruyama Yusuke, Chinese name: Yang Yu Teng) is half Japanese half Taiwanese, but he uses Mandarin when playing Shu Yi in the first half of WBL. Although he’s Taiwanese, Shi De uses Japanese words a few times to tease Shu Yi. (Baka is Japanese for stupid.)
But in part two we meet Shu Yi’s Dad, played by a Japanese actor. The two of them have a couple scenes where they slide in and out of Japanese as part of their father/son dynamic. I love this so much. Many bilingual households do this, usually as the argument gets heated they switch languages. I love that Taiwan just casually threw this into this little BL series to add depth to character and familial dynamic. It’s one of the many reasons I adore this drama.
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30 Day BL Challenge
Day 10: Favorite Kiss
Ok I'm going to do some of my lesser known fave kisses.
This TanBun(n) Kiss from Manner of Death
No explanation needed. MaxTul sold this kiss. This was damn near NSFW. Wait it was NSFW. Don't get me started on how slutty Dr. Bun(n) was being. And Teacher Tan pulling on his hair!!!!!!
MarkKit's Lip Bite Kiss from Gen Y the Series
It's not even the kiss man. It's the way Mark was acting AFTER it. He was sporting that bloodied lip like it was a trophy. Lil freak. And Kit was trying to act like he didn't run back to kiss that man. Kit really thought that lip bite was a punishment but really he was fueling Mark's masochism kink.
WinTops' First Kiss from Ingredients the Series
Every single thing about this kiss was magical. You can tell they'd been waiting so freaking long for this. The handholding really sent me too! Like it was a beautiful kiss and the way Tops was so shy afterwards and the way Win couldn't stop shooting him heart eyes. Y'all I love them.
ForthBeam's "Shut Up Beam" Kiss in 2Moons2
So short and yet so impactful. What's the fastest way to get bae to stop trippin?? Kiss him firmly and passionately. Here Forth is with a possible concussion consoling Beam's guilty conscious. True love.
SoloGui's First Kiss from Oxygen the Series
The whole atmosphere surrounding this kiss was so romantic and aesthetic. Them both confessing that they had never been in love before. Solo pulling Gui into his lap. Gui's shocked expression. The nighttime beach setting. *Chef's kiss* also this was Gui's very first kiss ever in life.
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