Thailand’s shibbolethBy Bangkok Pundit Nov 27, 2009 7:00AM UTC
Have already blogged on Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban’s statement that non-Thais would be protesting at UDD rallies, but Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s personal spokesman Thepthai has suggested the authorities use a shibboleth* as ASTV Manager reports – summary below:
Today (November 23) Thepthai confirmed Suthep’s statement that there would be foreigners among the red shirts and it happened back in April. From the authorities asking to look at their National ID card, it was found most didn’t have one so it was suspected they were foreigners. Thepthai said they should be detained and asked to sing the Thai national anthem.
BP: Now, they should make them sing it backwards…
btw, can you actually compel someone to sing the national anthem?
* The below blurb explains what a shibboleth is, this explanantion from Rice University:
A shibboleth is a kind of linguistic password: A way of speaking (a pronunciation, or the use of a particular expression) that identifies one as a member, or a non-member, of a particular group. The group has some kind of social power to set the standards for who belongs to the group: who is “in” and who is “out”.
The story behind the word is recorded in the biblical Book of Judges. The word shibboleth in ancient Hebrew dialects meant ‘ear of grain’ (or, some say, ‘stream’). Some groups pronounced it with a sh sound, but speakers of related dialects pronounced it with an s.
In the story, two Semitic tribes, the Ephraimites and the Gileadites, have a great battle. The Gileadites defeat the Ephraimites, and set up a blockade to catch the fleeing Ephraimites. The sentries asked each person to say the word shibboleth. The Ephraimites, who had no sh sound in their language, pronounced the word with an s and were thereby unmasked as the enemy and slaughtered.