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Thailand Language

Thai is the most important Thailand language and is spoken by a substantial majority of Thailand’s population. It is also the official language in Thailand and although its origins have not been definitively traced, Thai contains influences of Sanskrit, Pali and Old Khmer. Standard Thai or Central Thai, also known as Siamese, is spoken by around 20 million people.

Apart from Central Thai, the other popularly used languages in Thailand belong to the general class of Tai language family, which include:
  • Isan: It is spoken mainly in the Isan region in the Northeast of Thailand and is the second most commonly used Thailand language, spoken by around 18 million people.
  • Northern Thai: This is the third most common Thailand language and is spoken by around 9 million people in Northern Thailand.
  • Southern Thai: Another common language, this is spoken by around 7 million people.
  • Nyaw: This language is commonly spoken in several provinces in Northeastern Thailand.

    Since Central Thai is the official language and is the commonly used written form, taught in schools, most citizens of Thailand can speak Central Thai in addition to the regional language. Standard Thai can have several different forms, depending on the context of use. These registers of the Thai language are:
  • Common Thai: This is used in the colloquial form, without polite forms of address and is generally used among close friends and family.
  • Formal Thai: This is the generally accepted written form of the Thailand language and incorporates a respectful form of addressing. This is also the official written language.
  • Royal Thai: This form of Thai language is heavily influenced by Khmer and is used in the context of the addressing or describing the royal family.
  • Religious Thai: This form of Thai has a substantial influence of Sanskrit and Pali and is used in connection with Buddhist and Monastic contexts.
  • Rhetorical Thai: This is a synthesis of Common Thai and Formal Thai and is the preferred form during public speaking.

    The Thai script is believed to have ascended from the Khmer script, which is a derivative of the Brahmic script of the Sanskrit derived language family. The Thai language and script bears great similarity with the Lao language, due to this great co-relation speakers of one of the languages have rudimentary understanding of the other. It is difficult to transcribe the Thailand languages to English because there is no proper transliteration of several vowels and intonations. Several different standards of transcription are used. The most important standard is the Royal Thai General System of Transcription, which is used by the Thailand government, as well as for road signs. It is commonly advised that the Thai script be learnt while learning the spoken language.

    It is interesting to note that in Thai, other than compound words or words descended from foreign languages, most words consist of just one syllable. The common sources of foreign language words are Sanskrit, Pali and Khmer, and English in recent times. In addition a great many Teochew Chinese words have also found their way into the Thai language.



    World Travel Guide offers online information on Thailand Language.