Thai,[a] Central Thai or Ayutthaya or Siamese[b] (Thai: ภาษาไทย), is the sole official and national language of Thailand and the first language of the Central Thai people[c] and vast majority of Thai of Chinese origin. It is a member of the Tai group of the Kra–Dai language family. Over half of Thai vocabulary is derived from or borrowed from Pali, Sanskrit, Mon and Old Khmer. It is a tonal and analytic language.
Thai has a complex orthography and system of relational markers. Spoken Thai is mutually intelligible with Lao and Isan, fellow Southwestern Tai languages, to a significantly high degree where its speakers are able to effectively communicate each speaking their respective language. These languages are written with slightly different scripts but are linguistically similar and effectively form a dialect continuum.
|ภาษาไทย Phasa Thai|
|Region||Thailand (Central, Western, Eastern Thailand, Nakhon Ratchasima and Uttaradit Province)|
Cambodia (Koh Kong District)
|Ethnicity||Thai and Thai Chinese|
|20 to 36 million (2000)|
44 million L2 speakers with Lanna, Isan, Southern Thai, Northern Khmer and Lao (2001)
Official language in
|Regulated by||Royal Society of Thailand|
Thai is the official language of Thailand, natively spoken by, according to Ethnologue, over 20 million people (2000). In reality, the number of native Thai speakers is likely to be much higher, since the Thai people of ethnic Chinese origins throughout the country learn it as their first language. The populations of western and eastern parts of Thailand, which had since ancient time formed the core territory of Siam, also speak central Thai as their first language. 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 finds that the speakers of Northern Thai language (or Kham Mueang) have become so few, as most people in northern Thailand now invariably speak standard Thai, such that they are now using mostly central Thai words and seasoning their speech only with "kham mueang" accent.  Standard Thai is based on Ayutthaya dialect,[d] and register in the educated classes. In addition to Central Thai, Thailand is home to other related Tai languages. Although some linguists classify these dialects as related but distinct languages, there is a high degree of mutual intelligibility between these regional dialects/languages. Nonetheless, it is often claimed that the language policy of the Thai government has shaped the dominant view that these languages are only regional variants or dialects of the "same" Thai language, or as "different kinds of Thai".
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. Rhetorical, religious, and royal Thai are taught in schools as the national curriculum.
Many scholars believe that the Thai script 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.
Much like the Burmese adopted the Mon script (which also has Indic origins), 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.
Official standards are the Royal Thai General System of Transcription (RTGS), published by the Royal Institute of Thailand, and the almost identical 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.
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 seems not to appear in many other contexts, such as textbooks and other instructional media. This may be because the particular problems of writing Thai for foreigners, including silent letters and placement of vowel markers, decrease the usefulness of literal transliteration.
Thai distinguishes three voice-onset times among plosive and affricate consonants:
Where English makes a distinction between voiced /b/ and aspirated /pʰ/, Thai distinguishes a third sound that is neither voiced nor aspirated, which 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). Note also that 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:
The five phonemic tones of Standard Thai pronounced with the syllable '/naː/':
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.
The full complement of tones exists only in so-called "live syllables", those that end in a long vowel or a sonorant (/m/, /n/, /ŋ/, /j/, /w/).
For "dead syllables", those that end in a plosive (/p/, /t/, /k/) or in a short vowel, only three tonal distinctions are possible: low, high, and falling. Because syllables analyzed as ending in a short vowel may have a final glottal stop (especially in slower speech), all "dead syllables" are phonetically checked, and have the reduced tonal inventory characteristic of checked syllables.
|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.
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.
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 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 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").
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 (puak) in front of a singular pronoun as in พวกเขา (puak khao) meaning they or พวกเธอ (puak 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 (puak 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; these can also be used to indicate an affirmative, though the 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/.|
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).
Pali or Sanskrit
|Arabic words||Thai rendition||IPA||Remark|
|قُرْآن (Qurʾān)||อัลกุรอาน or โกหร่าน||/an.kù.rá.aːn/ or /kō.ràːn/||means Quran|
|رجم (rajm)||ระยำ||/rá.jam/||means bad, vile (pejorative)|
|Chinese words||Thai rendition||IPA||English|
|ทา||/tʰāː/||means to smear|
|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||Remark|
|ក្រុង (grong)||กรุง||/krūŋ/||means city|
|ខ្ទើយ (ktəəy)||กะเทย||/kà.tɤ̄ːj/||means Kathoey|
|ច្រមុះ (chrâmuh)||จมูก||/t͡ɕà.mùːk/||means nose|
|ច្រើន (craən)||เจริญ||/t͡ɕà.rɤ̄ːn/||means prosperous|
|ឆ្លាត/ឆ្លាស (chlāt)||ฉลาด||/t͡ɕʰà.làːt/||means smart|
|ថ្នល់ (thnâl)||ถนน||/tʰà.nǒn/||means road|
|ភ្លើង (/pləəŋ/)||เพลิง||/pʰlɤ̄ːŋ/||means fire|
|ទន្លេ (tonle)||ทะเล||/tʰá.lēː/||means sea|
The Portuguese were the first Western-nation to arrive in what is modern-day Thailand in the 16th century during the Ayutthaya period. Its 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||Remark|
|carta / cartaz||กระดาษ||/krà.dàːt/||means paper|
|leilão||เลหลัง||/lēː.lǎŋ/||means auction or low-priced|
|padre||บาท(หลวง)||/bàːt.lǔaŋ/||means (Christian) priest|
Thai has undergone various historical sound changes. Some of the most significant changes, at least in terms of consonants and tones, occurred between Old Thai spoken when the language was first written and Thai of present, reflected in the 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. Note also that 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.[i]
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). 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), 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), 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.
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 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:[j]
|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)
“The Middle mountains of Gū are the mountains of the Yuè’s bronze office, the Yuè people call them ‘Bronze gū[gū]dú.”
← 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’)"
? ← Siamese saʔ 'noun prefix'
"[Líu] Jiă (the king of Jīng 荆) built the western wall, it was called dìngcuò ['settle(d)' & 'grindstone'] wall."
← Siamese diaaŋA1, Daiya tʂhəŋ2, Sipsongpanna tseŋ2 'wall'
? ← 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
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
Glossaries and word lists
Ajahn (Thai: อาจารย์, RTGS: achan, IPA: [ʔāː.tɕāːn], also romanized ajaan, aajaan, ajarn, ajahn, acharn and achaan) is a Thai language term which translates as "professor" or "teacher." It is derived from the Pali word ācariya, and is a term of respect, similar in meaning to the Japanese sensei, and is used as a title of address for high-school and university teachers, and for Buddhist monks who have passed ten vassa. The term "ajahn" is customarily used to address forest tradition monks and the term Luang Por, "Venerable father" is customarily used to address city tradition monks in Thai Buddhism.Amphoe
An amphoe (sometimes also amphur, Thai: อำเภอ, pronounced [ʔām.pʰɤ̄ː]) is the second level administrative subdivision of Thailand. Usually translated as "district". Amphoe make up the provinces, and are analogous to counties. The chief district officer is Nai Amphoe (นายอำเภอ). Amphoe are divided into tambons, (Thai: ตำบล), or sub-districts.
Altogether Thailand has 878 districts, not including the 50 districts of Bangkok which are called khet (เขต) since the Bangkok administrative reform of 1972. The number of amphoe in provinces varies, from only three in the smallest provinces, up to the 50 urban districts of Bangkok. Also the sizes and population of amphoe differ greatly. The smallest population is in Ko Kut (Trat Province) with just 2,042 citizens, while Mueang Samut Prakan (Samut Prakan Province) has 509,262 citizens. The khet of Bangkok have the smallest areas—Khet Samphanthawong is the smallest, with only 1.4 km2—while the amphoe of the sparsely populated mountain regions are bigger than some provinces. Umphang (Tak Province) at 4,325.4 km2 is the largest and also has the lowest population density.
The names of amphoe are usually unique, but in a few cases different Thai names have the same form in English due to the flaws of the romanization system. The notable exception, however, is the name Amphoe Chaloem Phra Kiat, which was given to five districts created in 1996 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej's accession to the throne. Chaloem Phra Kiat (เฉลิมพระเกียรติ) means 'in commemoration of' or 'in honour of' a royal family member.Buddhist calendar
The Buddhist calendar is a set of lunisolar calendars primarily used in mainland Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand as well as in Sri Lanka and Chinese populations of Malaysia and Singapore for religious or official occasions. While the calendars share a common lineage, they also have minor but important variations such as intercalation schedules, month names and numbering, use of cycles, etc. In Thailand, the name Buddhist Era is a year numbering system shared by the traditional Thai lunisolar calendar and by the Thai solar calendar.
The Southeast Asian lunisolar calendars are largely based on an older version of the Hindu calendar, which uses the sidereal year as the solar year. One major difference is that the Southeast Asian systems, unlike their Indian cousins, do not use apparent reckoning to stay in sync with the sidereal year. Instead, they employ their versions of the Metonic cycle. However, since the Metonic cycle is not very accurate for sidereal years, the Southeast Asian calendar is slowly drifting out of sync with the sidereal, approximately one day every 100 years. Yet no coordinated structural reforms of the lunisolar calendar have been undertaken.
Today, the traditional Buddhist lunisolar calendar is used mainly for Theravada Buddhist festivals, and no longer has the official calendar status anywhere. The Thai Buddhist Era, a renumbered Gregorian calendar, is the official calendar in Thailand.Crore
A crore (; abbreviated cr) or koti denotes ten million (10,000,000 or 107 in scientific notation) and is equal to 100 lakh in the Indian numbering system as 1,00,00,000 with the local style of digit group separators (a lakh is equal to one hundred thousand and is written as 1,00,000).Football Association of Thailand
The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) or the full name is the Football Association of Thailand under Patronage of His Majesty the King (Thai: สมาคมกีฬาฟุตบอลแห่งประเทศไทย ในพระบรมราชูปถัมภ์) is the governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer in Thailand. It was founded on 25 April 1916. They joined FIFA on 23 June 1925 and AFC in 1954.Gulf of Thailand
The Gulf of Thailand, also known as the Gulf of Siam, is a shallow inlet in the western part of the South China Sea, a marginal body of water in the western Pacific Ocean. The gulf is around 800 km (497 mi) long and up to 560 km (348 mi) wide, has a surface area of 320,000 km2 (123,553 sq mi) and is surrounded on the north, west and southwest by Thailand, on the northeast by Cambodia and Vietnam. The South China Sea is to the southeast.Johnny Anfone
Johny Anfone (Thai: จอนนี่ แอนโฟเน่; October 28, 1969) is a Thai actor, host and singer.Muban
Muban (Thai: หมู่บ้าน) is the lowest administrative sub-division of Thailand. Usually translated as village and sometimes as hamlet, they are a subdivision of a tambon. As of 2008, there were 74,944 administrative muban in Thailand. As of the 1990 census, the average village consisted of 144 households or 746 persons.Pad thai
Pad thai, or phad thai ( or ; Thai: ผัดไทย, RTGS: phat thai, ISO: p̄hạdịthy, pronounced [pʰàt tʰāj] (listen), "Thai stir-fry"), is a stir-fried rice noodle dish commonly served as a street food and at most restaurants in Thailand.Phuket City
Phuket City ( poo-KET; Thai: ภูเก็ต, pronounced [pʰūː.kèt]) is a city in the south-east of Phuket island, Thailand. It is the capital of Phuket Province. As of 2007 the city had a population of 75,573. It covers the subdistricts (tambon) Talat Yai (Thai: ตลาดใหญ่) and Talat Nuea (Thai: ตลาดเหนือ) of Mueang Phuket district.
Phuket is 862 km south of Bangkok.Prime Minister of Thailand
The Prime Minister (Thai: นายกรัฐมนตรี; RTGS: Nayok Ratthamontri; IPA: [naː.jók rát.tʰà.mon.triː]) of Thailand is the head of government of Thailand. The prime minister is also the chair of the Cabinet of Thailand. The post has existed since the Revolution of 1932, when the country became a constitutional monarchy.
Prior to the coup d'état, the prime minister is nominated by a vote in the Thai House of Representatives by a simple majority, and is then appointed and sworn-in by the King of Thailand. The house's selection is usually based on the fact that either the prime minister is the leader of the largest political party in the lower house or the leader of the largest coalition of parties. In accordance with the constitution, the prime minister can only be appointed twice and is therefore limited to a maximum of two consecutive terms. The post of Prime Minister is currently held by Retired General Prayut Chan-o-cha, since the coup d'état on 22 May 2014.Provinces of Thailand
The Provinces of Thailand are part of the government of Thailand that is divided into 76 provinces (Thai: จังหวัด, RTGS: changwat, pronounced [t͡ɕāŋ.wàt]) proper and two special administrative areas (Thai: เขตปกครองส่วนท้องถิ่นรูปแบบพิเศษ), one representing the capital Bangkok and another the city of Pattaya.. They are the primary local government units and are divided into amphoes (districts) and also act as juristic persons. Each province is led by a governor (ผู้ว่าราชการจังหวัด phu wa ratchakan changwat), who is appointed by the central government.Southern Thai language
Southern Thai (Southern Thai/Thai: ภาษาไทยถิ่นใต้ [pʰaːsǎː tʰaj tʰìn tâːj]), also known as Pak Thai (Southern Thai: ภาษาปักษ์ใต้) or Dambro (Thai: ภาษาตามโพร [pʰaːsǎː taːmpʰroː]), is a Southwestern Tai 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 or understand the Central Thai dialects.Tambon
Tambon (Thai: ตำบล, pronounced [tām.bōn]) is a local governmental unit in Thailand. Below district (amphoe) and province (changwat), they form the third administrative subdivision level. As of 2016 there were 7,255 tambons, not including the 180 khwaeng of Bangkok, which are set at the same administrative level, thus every district contains eight to ten tambon. Tambon is usually translated as "township" or "subdistrict" in English — the latter is the recommended translation, though also often used for king amphoe, the designation for a subdistrict acting as a branch (Thai: king) of the parent district. Tambon are further subdivided into 69,307 villages (muban), about ten per tambon. Tambon within cities or towns are not subdivided into villages, but may have less formal communities called chumchon (ชุมชน) that may be formed into community associations.Thai League Cup
The League Cup (Thai: ไทยลีกคัพ) is a football cup competition in Thailand. It is also known as Toyota League Cup for sponsorship reasons.It was re-formed during the 2010 domestic football league season in Thailand and runs along the same lines as the Thai FA Cup except that the earlier rounds would be regional rather than an open draw.Thai baht
The baht (; Thai: บาท, pronounced [bàːt]; sign: ฿; code: THB) is the official currency of Thailand. It is subdivided into 100 satang (สตางค์, pronounced [sətāːŋ]). The issuance of currency is the responsibility of the Bank of Thailand.
According to SWIFT, as of February 2017, the Thai baht is ranked as the 10th most frequently used world payment currency.According to a report in the South China Morning Post, the China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation produces at least some Thai banknotes and coins.Thai solar calendar
The Thai solar calendar (Thai: ปฏิทินสุริยคติ, RTGS: patithin suriyakhati, "solar calendar") was adopted by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in 1888 CE as the Siamese version of the Gregorian calendar, replacing the Thai lunar calendar as the legal calendar in Thailand (though the latter is still also used, especially for traditional and religious events). Years are now counted in the Buddhist Era (B.E.): พุทธศักราช, พ.ศ., (RTGS: Phutthasakkarat) which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar.Thailand national under-20 futsal team
The Thailand national under-20 futsal team for under 20 level represents Thailand in international futsal competitions and is controlled by the Futsal Commission of the Football Association of Thailand.Thesaban
Thesaban (Thai: เทศบาล, RTGS: thetsaban, pronounced [tʰêːt.sā.bāːn]) are the municipalities of Thailand. There are three levels of municipalities: city, town, and sub-district. Bangkok and Pattaya are special municipal entities not included in the thesaban system.
The municipalities assume some of the responsibilities which are assigned to the districts (amphoe) or communes (tambon) for non-municipal (rural) areas. Historically, this devolution of central government powers grew out of the Sukhaphiban (ุสุขาภิบาล) sanitary districts first created in Bangkok by a royal decree of King Chulalongkorn in 1897.
The thesaban system was established in the Thesaban Organization Act of 1934 (Thai: พระราชบัญญัติจัดระเบียบเทศบาล พุทธศักราช ๒๔๗๖), and has been updated several times since, starting with the Thesaban Act of 1939 (Thai: พระราชบัญญัติเทศบาล พุทธศักราช ๒๔๘๑), which was replaced by the Thesaban Act of 1953. The 1953 act was most recently amended by the Thesaban Act (No. 12) of 2003.