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Thais told to change Poo, Pee and Porn nicknames

A Bangkok-based student agency is warning young Thais to change their nicknames when they move to New Zealand. Many Thais have been ridiculed when they introduce themselves abroad as Bum, Meow or Pet.

The Smart NZ Education Center, which helps young Thais arrange their university studies in New Zealand, has told six out of ten students to consider changing their nicknames before traveling to the Pacific Ocean islands.

The names, which include Poo, Pee, Porn, Moo, Nit and Dam among others, have caused problems for some students, reported the "New Zealand Herald."

The company said it now includes the advice on all its application forms, after many Thais faced jokes from fellow students when they first introduced themselves.

"There are nicknames that you know will result with the student getting harassed if nothing is done," said Smart NZ spokesman Chonnanit Na Songkhla.

He told the "NZ Herald" that Thais would have a "smoother cultural integration" if they changed their names.

Lost in translation

Most Thais have a nickname, given to them by their parents at birth. Superstition contends that a second name will confuse evil spirits intent on snatching a toddler, explained the Bangkok Post, which also reported the story on Saturday.

But while many nicknames are perfectly innocent in Thai, they have an entirely different meaning when translated into English. For example, the Thai word for dimpled is Bum, and crab is translated as Poo.

Foreign words also make popular nicknames, with some Thais called Beer, Milk and even Bank, the website Into-Asia.com said.

Others are called Mydear, Cake, Perfume and even FIFA, according to the original "NZ Herald" report.

One young man, whose nickname is Peach, was advised to take the moniker Peter when he traveled to New Zealand in 2014.

"My mum named me Peach because my mum is Apple and my sister is Pear," Vichaya Nilrungratana was cited by the "NZ Herald" as saying.

"I was surprised because I didn't think my nickname would be understood differently in another country."