|ภาษาไทย, Phasa Thai|
|Region|| Malaysia (Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Hulu Perak)|
Cambodia (Koh Kong District)
|Ethnicity||Central Thai, Thai Chinese, Malaysian Siamese|
|20 to 36 million (2000) |
44 million L2 speakers with Lanna, Isan, Southern Thai, Northern Khmer and Lao (2001)
| Thai script |
Official language in
|Regulated by||Royal Society of Thailand|
Thai, : ภาษาไทย), is the national language of Thailand and de facto official language; it is the first language of the Central Thai people and most Thai Chinese, depending on age. It is a member of the Tai group of the Kra–Dai language family, and one of over 60 languages of Thailand. Over half of Thai vocabulary is derived from or borrowed from Pali, Sanskrit, Mon and Old Khmer. It is a tonal and analytic language, similar to Chinese and Vietnamese.Central Thai (historically Siamese; Thai
Thai has a complex orthography and system of relational markers. Spoken Thai is partly, depending on standard sociolinguistic factors such as age, gender, class, spatial proximity, and the urban/rural divide, mutually intelligible with Lao, Isan, and some fellow Southwestern Tai languages. These languages are written with slightly different scripts but are linguistically similar and effectively form a dialect continuum.
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The Thai language is classified as a Tai language, closely related to other Southwestern Tai languages including Lao, Shan in Myanmar, and numerous indigenous languages spoken in an arc from Hainan and Yunnan south through Laos and Northern Vietnam to the Cambodian border. It is the principal language of education and government and spoken throughout the country. The standard is based on the dialect of the central Thai people, and it is written in the Thai alphabet.
Thai has undergone various historical sound changes. Some of the most significant changes occurred during the evolution from Old Thai to modern Thai. The Thai writing system has an eight-century history and many of these changes, especially in consonants and tones, are evidenced in the modern orthography.
Old Thai had a three-way tone distinction on live syllables (those not ending in a stop), with no possible distinction on dead syllables (those ending in a stop, i.e. either /p/, /t/, /k/ or the glottal stop which automatically closes syllables otherwise ending in a short vowel).
There was a two-way voiced vs. voiceless distinction among all fricative and sonorant consonants, and up to a four-way distinction among stops and affricates. The maximal four-way occurred in labials (/p pʰ b ʔb/) and dentals (/t tʰ d ʔd/); the three-way distinction among velars (/k kʰ ɡ/) and palatals (/tɕ tɕʰ dʑ/), with the glottalized member of each set apparently missing.
The major change between old and modern Thai was due to voicing distinction losses and the concomitant tone split. This may have happened between about 1300 and 1600 CE, possibly occurring at different times in different parts of the Thai-speaking area. All voiced–voiceless pairs of consonants lost the voicing distinction:
However, in the process of these mergers the former distinction of voice was transferred into a new set of tonal distinctions. In essence, every tone in Old Thai split into two new tones, with a lower-pitched tone corresponding to a syllable that formerly began with a voiced consonant, and a higher-pitched tone corresponding to a syllable that formerly began with a voiceless consonant (including glottalized stops). An additional complication is that formerly voiceless unaspirated stops/affricates (original /p t k tɕ ʔb ʔd/) also caused original tone 1 to lower, but had no such effect on original tones 2 or 3.
The above consonant mergers and tone splits account for the complex relationship between spelling and sound in modern Thai. Modern "low"-class consonants were voiced in Old Thai, and the terminology "low" reflects the lower tone variants that resulted. Modern "mid"-class consonants were voiceless unaspirated stops or affricates in Old Thai—precisely the class that triggered lowering in original tone 1 but not tones 2 or 3. Modern "high"-class consonants were the remaining voiceless consonants in Old Thai (voiceless fricatives, voiceless sonorants, voiceless aspirated stops). The three most common tone "marks" (the lack of any tone mark, as well as the two marks termed mai ek and mai tho) represent the three tones of Old Thai, and the complex relationship between tone mark and actual tone is due to the various tonal changes since then. Since the tone split, the tones have changed in actual representation to the point that the former relationship between lower and higher tonal variants has been completely obscured. Furthermore, the six tones that resulted after the three tones of Old Thai were split have since merged into five in standard Thai, with the lower variant of former tone 2 merging with the higher variant of former tone 3, becoming the modern "falling" tone.
Early Old Thai also apparently had velar fricatives /x ɣ/ as distinct phonemes. These were represented by the now-obsolete letters ฃ kho khuat and ฅ kho khon, respectively. During the Old Thai period, these sounds merged into the corresponding stops /kʰ ɡ/, and as a result the use of these letters became unstable.
At some point in the history of Thai, a palatal nasal phoneme /ɲ/ also existed, inherited from Proto-Tai. A letter ญ yo ying also exists, which is used to represent a palatal nasal in words borrowed from Sanskrit and Pali, and is currently pronounced /j/ at the beginning of a syllable but /n/ at the end of a syllable. Most native Thai words that are reconstructed as beginning with /ɲ/ are also pronounced /j/ in modern Thai, but generally spelled with ย yo yak, which consistently represents /j/. This suggests that /ɲ/ > /j/ in native words occurred in the pre-literary period. It is unclear whether Sanskrit and Pali words beginning with /ɲ/ were borrowed directly with a /j/, or whether a /ɲ/ was re-introduced, followed by a second change /ɲ/ > /j/.
Proto-Tai also had a glottalized palatal sound, reconstructed as /ʔj/ in Li Fang-Kuei (1977[ full citation needed ]). Corresponding Thai words are generally spelled หย, which implies an Old Thai pronunciation of /hj/ (or /j̊/), but a few such words are spelled อย, which implies a pronunciation of /ʔj/ and suggests that the glottalization may have persisted through to the early literary period.
The vowel system of modern Thai contains nine pure vowels and three centering diphthongs, each of which can occur short or long. According to Li (1977[ full citation needed ]), however, many Thai dialects have only one such short–long pair (/a aː/), and in general it is difficult or impossible to find minimal short–long pairs in Thai that involve vowels other than /a/ and where both members have frequent correspondences throughout the Tai languages. More specifically, he notes the following facts about Thai:
Furthermore, the vowel that corresponds to short Thai /a/ has a different and often higher quality in many of the Tai languages compared with the vowel corresponding to Thai /aː/.
This leads Li to posit the following:
Note that not all researchers agree with Li. Pittayaporn (2009[ full citation needed ]), for example, reconstructs a similar system for Proto-Southwestern-Tai, but believes that there was also a mid back unrounded vowel /ə/ (which he describes as /ɤ/), occurring only before final velar /k ŋ/. He also seems to believe that the Proto-Southwestern-Tai vowel length distinctions can be reconstructed back to similar distinctions in Proto-Tai.
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Thai descends from proto-Tai-Kadai, which has been hypothesized to originate in the Lower Yangtze valleys. Ancient Chinese texts refer to non-Sinitic languages spoken cross this substantial region and their speakers as "Yue". Although those languages are extinct, traces of their existence could be found in unearthed inscriptional materials, ancient Chinese historical texts and non-Han substrata in various Southern Chinese dialects. Thai, as the most-spoken language in the Tai-Kadai language family, has been used extensively in historical-comparative linguistics to identify the origins of language(s) spoken in the ancient region of South China. One of the very few direct records of non-Sinitic speech in pre-Qin and Han times having been preserved so far is the "Song of the Yue Boatman" (Yueren Ge 越人歌), which was transcribed phonetically in Chinese characters in 528 BC, and found in the 善说 Shanshuo chapter of the Shuoyuan 说苑 or 'Garden of Persuasions'. In the early 80's the Zhuang linguist Wei Qingwen using reconstructed Old Chinese for the characters discovered that the resulting vocabulary showed strong resemblance to modern Zhuang.Later, Zhengzhang Shangfang (1991) followed Wei's insight but used Thai script for comparison, since this orthography dates from the 13th century and preserves archaisms vis-à-vis the modern pronunciation. The following is a simplified interpretation of the "Song of the Yue Boatman" by Zhengzhang Shangfang quoted by David Holm (2013) with Thai script and Chinese glosses being omitted. The upper row represents the original text, the next row the Old Chinese pronunciation, the third a transcription of written Thai, and the fourth line English glosses. Finally, there is Zhengzhang's English translation.
|Oh, the fine night, we meet in happiness tonight!|
|la||thjang < khljang||gaah||draag||la||thjang||tju < klju|
|we, I||be apt to||shy, ashamed||we, I||be good at||to row|
|I am so shy, ah! I am good at rowing.|
|to row||to cross||to row||slowly||ptl.||joyful||satisfy, please|
|Rowing slowly across the river, ah! I am so pleased!|
|moons||la||ɦaa||tjau < kljau||daans||dzin||lo|
|dirty, ragged||we, I||ptl.||prince||Your Excellency||acquainted||know|
|Dirty though I am, ah! I made acquaintance with your highness the Prince.|
|srɯms||djeʔ < gljeʔ||sɦloi||gaai||gaa|
|to hide||heart||forever, constantly||to yearn||ptl.|
|Hidden forever in my heart, ah! is my adoration and longing.|
Besides this classical case, various papers in historical linguistics have employed Thai for comparative purposes in studying the linguistic landscape of the ancient region of Southern China. Proto-reconstructions of some scattered non-Sinitic words found in the two ancient Chinese fictional texts, Mu tianzi zhuan 穆天子傳 (4th c. B.C.) and Yuejue shu 越絕書 (1st c. A.D.), are used to compare to Thai/Siamese and its related languages in Tai-Kadai language family in an attempt to identify the origins of those words. The following examples are cited from Wolfgang Behr's work (2002):
"The Wú say yī for 'good' and huăn for 'way', i.e. in their titles they follow the central kingdoms, but in their names they follow their own lords."
伊 yī < MC ʔjij < OC *bq(l)ij ← Siamese diiA1, Longzhou dai1, Bo'ai nii1 Daiya li1, Sipsongpanna di1, Dehong li6 < proto-Tai *ʔdɛiA1 | Sui ʔdaai1, Kam laai1, Maonan ʔdaai1, Mak ʔdaai6 < proto-Kam-Sui/proto-Kam-Tai *ʔdaai1 'good'
缓 [huăn] < MC hwanX < OC *awan ← Siamese honA1, Bo'ai hɔn1, Dioi thon1 < proto-Tai *xronA1| Sui khwən1-i, Kam khwən1, Maonan khun1-i, Mulam khwən1-i < proto-Kam-Sui *khwən1 'road, way' | proto-Hlai *kuun1 || proto-Austronesian *Zalan (Thurgood 1994:353)
絕 jué < MC dzjwet < OC *bdzot ← Siamese codD1 'to record, mark' (Zhengzhang Shangfang 1999:8)
"The Middle mountains of Gū are the mountains of the Yuè's bronze office, the Yuè people call them 'Bronze gū[gū]dú'."
「姑[沽]瀆」 gūdú < MC ku=duwk < OC *aka=alok
← Siamese kʰauA1 'horn', Daiya xau5, Sipsongpanna xau1, Dehong xau1, Lü xău1, Dioi kaou1 'mountain, hill' < proto-Tai *kʰauA2; Siamese luukD2l 'classifier for mountains', Siamese kʰauA1-luukD2l 'mountain' || cf. OC 谷 gǔ < kuwk << *ak-lok/luwk < *akə-lok/yowk < *blok 'valley'
"... The Yuè people call a boat xūlú. ('beard' & 'cottage')"
須 xū < MC sju < OC *bs(n)o
? ← Siamese saʔ 'noun prefix'
盧 lú < MC lu < OC *bra
← Siamese rɯaA2, Longzhou lɯɯ2, Bo'ai luu2, Daiya hə2, Dehong hə2 'boat' < proto-Tai *drɯ[a,o] | Sui lwa1/ʔda1, Kam lo1/lwa1, Be zoa < proto-Kam-Sui *s-lwa(n)A1 'boat'
"[Líu] Jiă (the king of Jīng 荆) built the western wall, it was called dìngcuò ['settle(d)' & 'grindstone'] wall."
定 dìng < MC dengH < OC *adeng-s
← Siamese diaaŋA1, Daiya tʂhəŋ2, Sipsongpanna tseŋ2 'wall'
錯 cuò < MC tshak < OC *atshak
? ← Siamese tokD1s 'to set→sunset→west' (tawan-tok 'sun-set' = 'west'); Longzhou tuk7, Bo'ai tɔk7, Daiya tok7, Sipsongpanna tok7 < proto-Tai *tokD1s ǀ Sui tok7, Mak tok7, Maonan tɔk < proto-Kam-Sui *tɔkD1
According to Ethnologue, Thai language is spoken by over 20 million people (2000). Moreover, most Thais in the northern and the northeastern (Isaan) parts of the country today are bilingual speakers of Central Thai and their respective regional dialects due to the fact that (Central) Thai is the language of television, education, news reporting, and all forms of media. A recent research found that the speakers of the Northern Thai language (or Kham Mueang) have become so few, as most people in northern Thailand now invariably speak Standard Thai, so that they are now using mostly Central Thai words and seasoning their speech only with "kham mueang" accent. Standard Thai is based on the register of the educated classes in Bangkok. In addition to Central Thai, Thailand is home to other related Tai languages. Although some linguists classify these dialects as related but distinct languages, native speakers often identify them as regional variants or dialects of the "same" Thai language, or as "different kinds of Thai".
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Central Thai is composed of several distinct registers, forms for different social contexts:
Most Thais can speak and understand all of these contexts. Street and Elegant Thai are the basis of all conversations. [ citation needed ] Rhetorical, religious, and royal Thai are taught in schools as part of the national curriculum.
Thai is written in the Thai script, an abugida written from left to right. Many scholars believe[ citation needed ] that it is derived from the Khmer script. Certainly the numbers were lifted directly from Khmer. The language and its script are closely related to the Lao language and script. Most literate Lao are able to read and understand Thai, as more than half of the Thai vocabulary, grammar, intonation, vowels and so forth are common with the Lao language.
The Thais adopted and modified the Khmer script to create their own writing system. While in Thai the pronunciation can largely be inferred from the script, the orthography is complex, with silent letters to preserve original spellings and many letters representing the same sound. While the oldest known inscription in the Khmer language dates from 611 CE, inscriptions in Thai writing began to appear around 1292 CE. Notable features include:
There is no universally applied method for transcribing Thai into the Latin alphabet. For example, the name of the main airport is transcribed variously as Suvarnabhumi, Suwannaphum, or Suwunnapoom. Guide books, textbooks and dictionaries may each follow different systems. For this reason, most language courses recommend that learners master the Thai script.[ citation needed ]
Official standards are the Royal Thai General System of Transcription (RTGS), published by the Royal Institute of Thailand, ISO 11940-2 defined by the International Organization for Standardization. The RTGS system is increasingly used in Thailand by central and local governments, especially for road signs. Its main drawbacks are that it does not indicate tone or vowel length. As the system is based on pronunciation, not orthography, reconstruction of Thai spelling from RTGS romanisation is not possible.and the almost identical
The ISO published an international standard for the transliteration of Thai into Roman script in September 2003 (ISO 11940).By adding diacritics to the Latin letters it makes the transcription reversible, making it a true transliteration. Notably, this system is used by Google Translate, although it does not seem to appear in many other contexts, such as textbooks and other instructional media.
Standard Thai distinguishes three voice-onset times among plosive and affricate consonants:
Where English makes a distinction between voiced /b/ and unvoiced aspirated /pʰ/, Thai distinguishes a third sound - the unvoiced, unaspirated /p/ that occurs in English only as an allophone of /pʰ/, for example after an /s/ as in the sound of the p in "spin". There is similarly an alveolar /d/, /t/, /tʰ/ triplet in Thai. In the velar series there is a /k/, /kʰ/ pair and in the postalveolar series a /t͡ɕ/, /t͡ɕʰ/ pair, but the language lacks the corresponding voiced sounds /ɡ/ and /dʑ/. (In loanwords from English, English /ɡ/ and /d͡ʒ/ are borrowed as the tenuis stops /k/ and /t͡ɕ/.)
In each cell below, the first line indicates International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), the second indicates the Thai characters in initial position (several letters appearing in the same box have identical pronunciation). The letter ห, one of the two h letters, is also used to help write certain tones (described below).
Although the overall 44 Thai consonant letters provide 21 sounds in case of initials, the case for finals is different. For finals, only eight sounds, as well as no sound, called mātrā ( มาตรา ) are used. To demonstrate, at the end of a syllable, บ (/b/) and ด (/d/) are devoiced, becoming pronounced as /p/ and /t/ respectively. Additionally, all plosive sounds are unreleased. Hence, final /p/, /t/, and /k/ sounds are pronounced as [p̚], [t̚], and [k̚] respectively.
Of the consonant letters, excluding the disused ฃ and ฅ, six (ฉ ผ ฝ ห อ ฮ) cannot be used as a final and the other 36 are grouped as following.
In Thai, each syllable in a word is considered separate from the others, so combinations of consonants from adjacent syllables are never recognised as a cluster. Thai has phonotactical constraints that define permissible syllable structure, consonant clusters, and vowel sequences. Original Thai vocabulary introduces only 11 combined consonantal patterns:
The number of clusters increases when a few more combinations are presented in loanwords such as /tʰr/ (ทร) in อินทรา (/intʰraː/, from Sanskrit indrā) or /fr/ (ฟร) in ฟรี (/friː/, from English free); however, it can be observed that Thai language supports only those in initial position, with either /r/, /l/, or /w/ as the second consonant sound and not more than two sounds at a time.
The vowel nuclei of the Thai language are given in the following table. The top entry in every cell is the symbol from the International Phonetic Alphabet, the second entry gives the spelling in the Thai alphabet, where a dash (–) indicates the position of the initial consonant after which the vowel is pronounced. A second dash indicates that a final consonant must follow.
The vowels each exist in long-short pairs: these are distinct phonemes forming unrelated words in Thai,but usually transliterated the same: เขา (khao) means "he" or "she", while ขาว (khao) means "white".
The long-short pairs are as follows:
|–า||/aː/||ฝาน||/fǎːn/||'to slice'||–ะ||/a/||ฝัน||/fǎn/||'to dream'|
|เ–||/eː/||เอน||/ʔēːn/||'to recline'||เ–ะ||/e/||เอ็น||/ʔēn/||'tendon, ligament'|
|แ–||/ɛː/||แพ้||/pʰɛ́ː/||'to be defeated'||แ–ะ||/ɛ/||แพะ||/pʰɛ́ʔ/||'goat'|
|–ื-||/ɯː/||คลื่น||/kʰlɯ̂ːn/||'wave'||–ึ||/ɯ/||ขึ้น||/kʰɯ̂n/||'to go up'|
|โ–||/oː/||โค่น||/kʰôːn/||'to fell'||โ–ะ||/o/||ข้น||/kʰôn/||'thick (soup)'|
There are also opening and closing diphthongs in Thai, which Tingsabadh & Abramson (1993) analyze as underlyingly /Vj/ and /Vw/. For purposes of determining tone, those marked with an asterisk are sometimes classified as long:
|Thai script||IPA||Thai script||IPA|
|–าย||/aːj/||ไ–*, ใ–*, ไ–ย, -ัย||/aj/|
Additionally, there are three triphthongs. For purposes of determining tone, those marked with an asterisk are sometimes classified as long:
There are five phonemic tones: mid, low, falling, high, and rising, sometimes referred to in older reference works as rectus, gravis, circumflexus, altus, and demissus, respectively.The table shows an example of both the phonemic tones and their phonetic realization, in the IPA.
|low||เอก||ข่า||/kʰàː/||[kʰaː˨˩] or [kʰaː˩]||galangal|
|high||ตรี||ค้า||/kʰáː/||[kʰaː˦˥] or [kʰaː˥]||to trade|
|rising||จัตวา||ขา||/kʰǎː/||[kʰaː˩˩˦] or [kʰaː˩˦]||leg|
|low (short vowel)||เอก||หมัก||/màk/||[mak̚˨˩]||marinate|
|low (long vowel)||เอก||หมาก||/màːk/||[maːk̚˨˩]||areca nut, areca palm, betel, fruit|
|high||ตรี||มัก||/mák/||[mak̚˦˥]||habitually, likely to|
|falling||โท||มาก||/mâːk/||[maːk̚˥˩]||a lot, abundance, many|
In some English loanwords, closed syllables with long vowel ending in an obstruent sound, have high tone, and closed syllables with short vowel ending in an obstruent sound have falling tone.
1 May be /báːs.kêt.bɔ̄l/ in educated speech.
From the perspective of linguistic typology, Thai can be considered to be an analytic language. The word order is subject–verb–object, although the subject is often omitted. Thai pronouns are selected according to the gender and relative status of speaker and audience.
There is no morphological distinction between adverbs and adjectives. Many words can be used in either function. They follow the word they modify, which may be a noun, verb, or another adjective or adverb.
Comparatives take the form "A X กว่า B" (kwa, [kwàː]), A is more X than B. The superlative is expressed as "A X ที่สุด" (thi sut, [tʰîːsùt]), A is most X.
Because adjectives can be used as complete predicates, many words used to indicate tense in verbs (see Verbs:Tense below) may be used to describe adjectives.
Verbs do not inflect. They do not change with person, tense, voice, mood, or number; nor are there any participles.
The passive voice is indicated by the insertion of ถูก (thuk, [tʰùːk]) before the verb. For example:
To convey the opposite sense, a sense of having an opportunity arrive, ได้ (dai, [dâj], can) is used. For example:
Note, dai ([dâj] and [dâːj]), though both spelled ได้, convey two separate meanings. The short vowel dai ([dâj]) conveys an opportunity has arisen and is placed before the verb. The long vowel dai ([dâːj]) is placed after the verb and conveys the idea that one has been given permission or one has the ability to do something. Also see the past tense below.
Negation is indicated by placing ไม่ (mai,[mâj] not) before the verb.
Tense is conveyed by tense markers before or after the verb.
Tense markers are not required.
Thai exhibits serial verb constructions, where verbs are strung together. Some word combinations are common and may be considered set phrases.
Nouns are uninflected and have no gender; there are no articles.
Nouns are neither singular nor plural. Some specific nouns are reduplicated to form collectives: เด็ก (dek, child) is often repeated as เด็ก ๆ (dek dek) to refer to a group of children. The word พวก (phuak, [pʰûak]) may be used as a prefix of a noun or pronoun as a collective to pluralize or emphasise the following word. (พวกผม, phuak phom, [pʰûak pʰǒm], we, masculine; พวกเรา phuak rao, [pʰûak raw], emphasised we; พวกหมา phuak ma, (the) dogs). Plurals are expressed by adding classifiers, used as measure words (ลักษณนาม), in the form of noun-number-classifier (ครูห้าคน, "teacher five person" for "five teachers"). While in English, such classifiers are usually absent ("four chairs") or optional ("two bottles of beer" or "two beers"), a classifier is almost always used in Thai (hence "chair four item" and "beer two bottle").
Possession in Thai is indicated by adding the word "khong" in front of the noun or pronoun, but it may often be omitted. For example:
Subject pronouns are often omitted, with nicknames used where English would use a pronoun. See informal and formal names for more details. Pronouns, when used, are ranked in honorific registers, and may also make a T–V distinction in relation to kinship and social status. Specialised pronouns are used for those with royal and noble titles, and for clergy. The following are appropriate for conversational use:
|ผม||phom||[pʰǒm]||I/me (masculine; formal)|
|ดิฉัน||dichan||[dìʔt͡ɕʰán])||I/me (feminine; formal)|
|ฉัน||chan||[t͡ɕʰǎn]||I/me (mainly used by women; informal) Commonly pronounced as [t͡ɕʰán]|
|เรา||rao||[raw]||we/us, I/me (casual), you (sometimes used but only when older person speaks to younger person)|
|ท่าน||than||[tʰân]||you (highly honorific)|
|เธอ||thoe||[tʰɤː]||you (informal), she/her (informal)|
|พี่||phi||[pʰîː]||older brother, sister (also used for older acquaintances)|
|น้อง||nong||[nɔːŋ]||younger brother, sister (also used for younger acquaintances)|
|มัน||man||[man]||it, he/she (sometimes casual or offensive if used to refer to a person)|
The reflexive pronoun is ตัวเอง (tua eng), which can mean any of: myself, yourself, ourselves, himself, herself, themselves. This can be mixed with another pronoun to create an intensive pronoun, such as ตัวผมเอง (tua phom eng, lit: I myself) or ตัวคุณเอง (tua khun eng, lit: you yourself). Thai also does not have a separate possessive pronoun. Instead, possession is indicated by the particle ของ (khong). For example, "my mother" is แม่ของผม (mae khong phom, lit: mother of I). This particle is often implicit, so the phrase is shortened to แม่ผม (mae phom). Plural pronouns can be easily constructed by adding the word พวก (phuak) in front of a singular pronoun as in พวกเขา (phuak khao) meaning they or พวกเธอ (phuak thoe) meaning the plural sense of you. The only exception to this is เรา (rao), which can be used as singular (informal) or plural, but can also be used in the form of พวกเรา (phuak rao), which is only plural.
Thai has many more pronouns than those listed above. Their usage is full of nuances. For example:
The particles are often untranslatable words added to the end of a sentence to indicate respect, a request, encouragement or other moods (similar to the use of intonation in English), as well as varying the level of formality. They are not used in elegant (written) Thai. The most common particles indicating respect are ครับ (khrap, [kʰráp], with a high tone) when the speaker is male, and ค่ะ (kha, [kʰâ], with a falling tone) when the speaker is female. Used in a question or a request, the particle ค่ะ (falling tone) is changed to a คะ (high tone).
Other common particles are:
|จ๊ะ||cha/ja||[t͡ɕáʔ]||indicating a request|
|จ้ะ, จ้า or จ๋า||cha/ja||[t͡ɕâː]||indicating emphasis|
|ละ or ล่ะ||la||[láʔ]||indicating emphasis|
|สิ||si||[sìʔ]||indicating emphasis or an imperative|
|นะ||na||[náʔ]||softening; indicating a request|
As noted above, Thai has several registers, each having certain usages, such as colloquial, formal, literary, and poetic. Thus, the word "eat" can be กิน (kin; common), แดก (daek; vulgar), ยัด (yat; vulgar), บริโภค (boriphok; formal), รับประทาน (rapprathan; formal), ฉัน (chan; religious), or เสวย (sawoei; royal), as illustrated below:
|ยัด||/ját/||vulgar||Original meaning is 'to cram'|
|รับประทาน||/ráp.pra.tʰāːn/||formal, polite||Often shortened to ทาน /tʰāːn/.|
Thailand also uses the distinctive Thai six-hour clock in addition to the 24-hour clock.
Other than compound words and words of foreign origin, most words are monosyllabic.
Chinese-language influence was strong until the 13th century when the use of Chinese characters was abandoned, and replaced by Sanskrit and Pali scripts. However, the vocabulary of Thai retains many words borrowed from Middle Chinese.
Later most vocabulary was borrowed from Sanskrit and Pāli; Buddhist terminology is particularly indebted to these. Indic words have a more formal register, and may be compared to Latin and French borrowings in English. Old Khmer has also contributed its share, especially in regard to royal court terminology. Since the beginning of the 20th century, however, the English language has had the greatest influence, especially for scientific, technical, international, and other modern terms. Many Teochew Chinese words are also used, some replacing existing Thai words (for example, the names of basic numbers; see also Sino-Xenic).[ citation needed ]
Pali or Sanskrit
|Arabic words||Thai rendition||IPA||Gloss|
|الْقُرْآن (al-qurʾān) or قُرْآن (qurʾān)||อัลกุรอาน or โกหร่าน||/an.kù.rá.aːn/ or /kō.ràːn/||Quran|
|رجم (rajm)||ระยำ||/rá.jam/||bad, vile (pejorative)|
From Middle Chinese or Teochew Chinese.
|Chinese words||Thai rendition||IPA||Gloss|
|交椅 (teochew: gao1 in2)||เก้าอี้||/kâw.ʔîː/||chair|
|粿條 / 粿条 (min nan: kóe-tiâu)||ก๋วยเตี๋ยว||/kǔəj.tǐəw/||rice noodle|
|姐 (hokkien: chiá/ché, teochew: zê2/zia2)||เจ้ or เจ๊||/t͡ɕêː/ or /t͡ɕéː/||older sister (used in Chinese community in Thailand)|
|二 (hokkien: jī, teochew: ri6)||ยี่||/jîː/||two (archaic), but still used in word ยี่สิบ (/jîː.sìp/; twenty)|
|豆 (middle chinese: dəuH)||ถั่ว||/tʰùə/||bean|
|盎 (middle chinese: ʔɑŋX/ʔɑŋH)||อ่าง||/ʔàːŋ/||basin|
|膠 (middle chinese: kˠau)||กาว||/kāːw/||glue|
|鯁 (middle chinese: kˠæŋX)||ก้าง||/kâːŋ/||fishbone|
|坎 (middle chinese: kʰʌmX)||ขุม||/kʰǔm/||pit|
|塗 (middle chinese: duo/ɖˠa)||ทา||/tʰāː/||to smear|
|退 (middle chinese: tʰuʌiH)||ถอย||/tʰɔ̌j/||to step back|
|English words||Thai rendition||IPA||Remark|
|bank||แบงก์||/bɛ́ːŋ/||means bank or banknote|
|bill||บิล||/biw/ or /bin/|
|computer||คอมพิวเตอร์||/kʰɔ̄m.pʰíw.tɤ̂ː/||colloquially shortened to คอม /kʰɔ̄m/|
|graph||กราฟ||/kráːp/ or /káːp/|
|French words||Thai rendition||IPA||Remark|
From Old Khmer.
|Khmer words||Thai rendition||IPA||Gloss|
|ក្រុង (grong)||กรุง||/krūŋ/||capital city|
The Portuguese were the first Western nation to arrive in what is modern-day Thailand in the 16th century during the Ayutthaya period. Their influence in trade, especially weaponry, allowed them to establish a community just outside the capital and practice their faith, as well as exposing and converting the locals to Christianity. Thus, Portuguese words involving trade and religion were introduced and used by the locals.
|Portuguese words||Thai rendition||IPA||Gloss|
|carta / cartaz||กระดาษ||/krà.dàːt/||paper|
|leilão||เลหลัง||/lēː.lǎŋ/||auction or low-priced|
Khmer is the language of the Khmer people and the official language of Cambodia. With approximately 16 million speakers, it is the second most widely spoken Austroasiatic language. Khmer has been influenced considerably by Sanskrit and Pali, especially in the royal and religious registers, through Hinduism and Buddhism. The more colloquial registers have influenced, and have been influenced by, Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, and Cham, all of which, due to geographical proximity and long-term cultural contact, form a sprachbund in peninsular Southeast Asia. It is also the earliest recorded and earliest written language of the Mon–Khmer family, predating Mon and by a significant margin Vietnamese, due to Old Khmer being the language of the historical empires of Chenla, Angkor and, presumably, their earlier predecessor state, Funan.
Vietnamese is an Austroasiatic language that originated in Vietnam, where it is the national and official language. Vietnamese is spoken natively by an estimated 90 million people, several times as many as the rest of the Austroasiatic family combined. It is the native language of the Vietnamese (Kinh) people, as well as a first or second language for other ethnic groups in Vietnam. As a result of Vietnamese emigration, Vietnamese speakers are also found in other parts of Southeast Asia, as well as East Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia. Vietnamese has also been officially recognized as a minority language in the Czech Republic.
Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning – that is, to distinguish or to inflect words. All verbal languages use pitch to express emotional and other paralinguistic information and to convey emphasis, contrast, and other such features in what is called intonation, but not all languages use tones to distinguish words or their inflections, analogously to consonants and vowels. Languages that do have this feature are called tonal languages; the distinctive tone patterns of such a language are sometimes called tonemes, by analogy with phoneme. Tonal languages are common in East and Southeast Asia, the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas; as many as seventy percent of world languages may be tonal.
The Thai script is the abugida used to write Thai, Southern Thai and many other languages spoken in Thailand. The Thai alphabet itself has 44 consonant symbols, 16 vowel symbols that combine into at least 32 vowel forms and four tone diacritics to create characters mostly representing syllables.
Lao, sometimes referred to as Laotian, is a Kra–Dai language of the Lao people. It is spoken in Laos, where it is the official language, as well as northeast Thailand, where it is usually referred to as Isan. Lao serves as a lingua franca among all citizens of Laos, who speak approximately 90 other languages, many of which are unrelated to Lao.
Northern Thai, Lanna, or Kam Mueang, is the language of the Northern Thai people of Lanna, Thailand. It is a Southwestern Tai language that is phonotactically closely related to Lao. Northern Thai has approximately six million speakers, most of whom live in the native Northern Thailand, with a smaller community of Lanna speakers in northwestern Laos.
The languages of East Asia belong to several distinct language families, with many common features attributed to interaction. In the Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area, Chinese varieties and languages of southeast Asia share many areal features, tending to be analytic languages with similar syllable and tone structure. In the 1st millennium AD, Chinese culture came to dominate East Asia. Classical Chinese was adopted by scholars in Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. There was a massive influx of Chinese vocabulary into these and other neighboring languages. The Chinese script was also adapted to write Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese, though in the first two the use of Chinese characters is now restricted to university learning, linguistic or historical study, artistic or decorative works and newspapers.
Isan or Northeastern Thai refers to the local development of the Lao language in Thailand, after the political split of the Lao-speaking world at the Mekong River, with the left bank eventually becoming modern Laos and the right bank the Isan region of Thailand after the conclusion of the Franco-Siamese War of 1898. The language is still referred to as the Lao language by native speakers. As a descendant of the Lao language, Isan is also a Lao-Phuthai language of the Southwestern branch of Tai languages in the Kra-Dai language family, most closely related to its parent language Lao and 'tribal' Tai languages such as Phuthai and Tai Yo. Isan is officially classified as a dialect of the Thai language by the Thai government, although Thai is a closely related Southwestern Tai language, it falls within the Chiang Saen languages. Thai and Lao are mutually intelligible with difficulty, as even though they share over 80% cognate vocabulary, Lao and Isan have a very different tonal pattern, vowel quality, manner of speaking and many very commonly used words that differ from Thai thus hampering inter-comprehension without prior exposure.
Lao script or Akson Lao is the primary script used to write the Lao language and other minority languages in Laos. It was also used to write the Isan language, but was replaced by the Thai script. It has 27 consonants, 7 consonantal ligatures, 33 vowels, and 4 tone marks.
The Shan language is the native language of the Shan people and is mostly spoken in Shan State, Burma. It is also spoken in pockets of Kachin State in Burma, in Northern Thailand and decreasingly in Assam. Shan is a member of the Tai–Kadai language family and is related to Thai. It has five tones, which do not correspond exactly to Thai tones, plus a "sixth tone" used for emphasis. It is called Tai Yai or Tai Long in the Tai languages.
Southern Thai, also known as Pak Thai or Dambro, is a Southwestern Tai ethnolinguistic identity and language spoken in the fourteen provinces of southern Thailand as well as by small communities in the northernmost Malaysian states. It is spoken by roughly five million people, and as a second language by the 1.5 million speakers of Pattani and other ethnic groups such as the local Thai Chinese communities, Negritos, and other tribal groups. Most speakers are also fluent in or understand the Central Thai dialects.
Tai Lue or Tai Lɯ, Tai Lü, Thai Lue, Tai Le, Xishuangbanna Dai is a Tai language of the Lu people, spoken by about 700,000 people in Southeast Asia. This includes 280,000 people in China (Yunnan), 200,000 in Burma, 134,000 in Laos, 83,000 in Thailand, and 4,960 in Vietnam. The language is similar to other Tai languages and is closely related to Kham Mueang or Tai Yuan, which is also known as Northern Thai language. In Yunnan, it is spoken in all of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, as well as Jiangcheng Hani and Yi Autonomous County in Pu'er City.
The Mizo language, or Mizo ṭawng, is a Kuki-Chin-Mizo language belonging to the Tibeto-Burman family of languages, spoken natively by the Mizo people in the Mizoram state of India and Chin State in Burma. The language is also known as Duhlian, a colonial term, as the Duhlian people were the first among the Mizos to be encountered by the British in the course of their colonial expansion. The Mizo language is mainly based on Lusei dialect but it has also derived many words from its surrounding Mizo sub-tribes and sub-clan. Now, Mizo language or Mizo ṭawng is the lingua franca of Mizoram and its surrounding areas and to a lesser extent of Burma and Bangladesh and in India in some parts of Assam, Tripura and Manipur. Many poetic language is derived from Pawi, Paite, and Hmar, and most known ancient poems considered to be Mizo are actually in Pawi. Mizo is the official language of Mizoram, along with English, and there have been efforts to have it included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
Kensiu (Kensiw) is an Austro-Asiatic language of the Jahaic subbranch. It is spoken by a small community of 300 in Yala Province in southern Thailand and also reportedly by a community of approximately 300 speakers in Western Malaysia in Perak and Kedah States. Speakers of this language are Negritos who are known as the Mani people or Maniq of Thailand.
Proto-Tai is the reconstructed proto-language of all the Tai languages, including modern Lao, Shan, Tai Lü, Tai Dam, Ahom, Northern Thai, Standard Thai, Bouyei, and Zhuang. The Proto-Tai language is not directly attested by any surviving texts, but has been reconstructed using the comparative method.
This article discusses the phonology of the Inuit languages. Unless otherwise noted, statements refer to Inuktitut dialects of Canada.
Tai Daeng, Táy-Môc-Châu or Red Tai is the language of the Tai Daeng people of northwestern Vietnam and across the border into northeastern Laos. It belongs to the Tai language family, being closely connected with Black Tai and White Tai, as well as being more distantly related to the language spoken in modern Thailand, heretofore referred to as Siamese. Classified as part of the Thái official ethnic community in Vietnam and of the Phu Tai composite group in Laos. However, speakers in Vietnam tend to identify with Black Tai, or Tai Dam, thus denying that they are Red Tai.
The Aiton language or Tai Aiton language is spoken in Assam, India. It is currently classified as a threatened language, with less than two thousand speakers worldwide. Its other names include Antonia and Sham Doaniya.
The Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area is a sprachbund including languages of the Sino-Tibetan, Hmong–Mien, Kra–Dai, Austronesian and Austroasiatic families spoken in an area stretching from Thailand to China. Neighbouring languages across these families, though presumed unrelated, often have similar typological features, which are believed to have spread by diffusion. James Matisoff referred to this area as the "Sinosphere", contrasted with the "Indosphere", but viewed it as a zone of mutual influence in the ancient period.
Proto-Min is a comparative reconstruction of the common ancestor of the Min group of varieties of Chinese. Min varieties developed in the relative isolation of the Chinese province of Fujian and eastern Guangdong, and have since spread to Taiwan, southeast Asia and other parts of the world. They contain reflexes of distinctions not found in Middle Chinese or most other modern varieties, and thus provide additional data for the reconstruction of Old Chinese.
The dialect one hears on radio and television is the Bangkok dialect, considered the standard dialect.
there are still many people speaking kham mueang, but as an accent, not as a language. Because we now share the written language with Bangkok, we are beginning to use its vocabulary as well
Standard Thai is a form of Central Thai based on the variety of Thai spoken earlier by the elite of the court, and now by the educated middle and upper classes of Bangkok. It ... was standardized in grammar books in the nineteenth century, and spread dramatically from the 1930s onwards, when public education became much more widespread
Linguists generally consider Bangkok Thai and Standard Thai, the Kingdom’s national language, to be one and the same.
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