Just about ever Thai person has a nickname. Many Americans have nicknames--as do many Italians and Eskimos and Angolans--but not quite like this. In English speaking countries someone might reduce their given name to a monosyllable for the sake of brevity (or perhaps levity) or acquire an affectionate hypocristic from friends or family. A grown man might even request that his friends start refering to him as T-Bone or Spike, against his better judgment. But Thai nicknames are somewhat different. For one thing, they are given at birth rather than acquired. To understand why this is, let's look at the conventions of Thai naming.
First and foremost, Thai names (both given names and surnames) tend to be long. For the sake of example, here are some recent additions to my facebook friends list: Waranya Tieammuang, Saran Mahasupap, Natthawinee Thannin, Atchara Saigaew--you get the idea. Even when they're not all that long, they're often difficult to pronounce, so children are given nicknames which in effect become their main appelations in all but the most official or formal of circumstances. Much of the time these nicknames are simply Thai words, and tend to be rather mundane or even slightly negative (someone told me this has something to do with warding off evil spirits or somesuch)--Kung (prawn), Lek (small), and Get (raisin) are common examples. Like I said, some are rather negative, like Uan (fat) or Moo (pig).
But the best Thai nicknames tend to be English words. Golf seems to be one of the more common ones, particularly for girls (it was explained to me matter of factly that, "Well, a lot of peoples' fathers like golf." Fair enough. Other funny ones include Pink (or Pinky), Oat, Note, Dookie (a Green Day reference I drunkenly made after meeting a girl named Dookie was met only with blank stares), Champ, Top, Pop, Mook, Pez, Air, and Oil. I have a lesson group at Berlitz with two kids named Fame and Boss in it--if only Champ were also in that class. Again, many are mundane: children are often nicknamed Ay, Bee, and See to denote their birth order, or named after letters of the alphabet (Oh, Pee, et cetera). Anyway, since I am no longer bound by any sort of rhetorical regulations, I think I'm going to eschew conclusions from now on too! Peace!