Mind your language

Ethnic tongues are under threat in Thailand but a borderless economy offers hope they will survive

PRESERVING THEIR IDENTITY: Mon people from Chaiyaphum province in the Northeast are eager to preserve their language and culture. PHOTO: KANCHANA ARYUWATTHANACHAI

An ensemble of traditional musicians begins to play. The treble sound of the oboe gets louder. Drum rolls accompany a steady rhythm of cymbals. A male singer croons in an unfamiliar dialect, "Oh, Ga Nobe Ting Tong ..."

Nearby, a group of four women clad in shiny eggshell-colour silk blouses and red sarongs dance along to the music.

They slide their legs from left to right, then right to left, weaving their arms in the air -- just like the movement of a dancing mantis.

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