Thai,[a] Central Thai, or Ayutthaya or Siamese,[b] 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||Central 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. 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, which includes monophthongs and opening diphthongs, 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 closing diphthongs and triphthongs 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:
|/w/ offglide||/j/ offglide|
ไ–*, ใ–*, ไ–ย, -ัย
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.[h]
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 viz-à-viz 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:[i]
|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.
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