by AZ Susan /
Are you thinking of a trip to Thailand? Many people from around the world like to travel to the beautiful country of Southeast Asia, Thailand. This is because traveling to Thailand is quite affordable. It is a country with an enriched history. To enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of Thailand and to understand the culture of the country, you must know which languages do people of Thailand speak.
What Languages Spoken in Thailand
The official language of Thailand is Thai. It is a diverse county spreading from China to Malaysia and it has a population of 60 million people. The diverse culture of this country has resulted in the formation of many different dialects.
Thailand is an inhabitant of 69 million people. Approximately, 88% of the Thailand population speaks the Thai language. Out of this number, 34% of people speak it as their native language. The historic name of this language is Siamese.
Siamese is an important part of the Tai group of languages. The official dialect of the Siamese that people speak in Thailand is mutually intelligible with the local dialect of the Bangkok region.
There is always one important language of any nation but to your surprise, in Thailand, people speak 73 live languages. Out of this number, 51 are native to the country.
Thai is not a monologue language. People speak it with different variations throughout the country. The people speaking Thai dialect at one end of the country cannot understand Thai speaking at the other end of the country.
It is a tonal language. Therefore, any change in tone and consonants can change the meaning of the word or phrase. Thai languages have also taken many loanwords from other languages like Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, Portuguese, Austronesian, Kymer, and English. The regional dialects of the Thai language are Shan, Isan, Song, Phu, Northern Thai, Nyaw, Lu, and Phuan.
People living in the metropolitan region of Bangkok speak the standard Thai language and they start learning the Thai language from this city To understand the linguistic landscape of Thailand, you have to analyze its sub-dialects. The important thing to note about Thai dialect variations is that they are based on tones.
The letters are the same when they are written. However, their meaning changes with the inflection of the tone. Another important thing to note about the Thai dialect is that words are formed according to the social context. This makes Thai a beautifully expressive language.
People speak this dialect of the Thai language in Myanmar and the parts of Kachin state in Myanmar and the Northern side of Thailand. This dialect is part of the Tai-Kadai language and it is a part of the Thai language.
People speak the Shan dialect with five tones that are not related to each other. Moreover, it has a sixth tone which is used for inflection. People call this sixth dialect Tai Long and Tai Yai in different Tai dialects.
Isan, also known as Northeastern Thai, is a part of the emergence of the Lao language in Thailand. When the Lao-speaking world split politically at the Mekong River then the left part became modern Laos whereas the right bank became the Isan region of Thailand.
Many people name this language Lao. This is because the Lao language is also a Lao-Phuthai language related to the Southwestern branch of the Tai language in the group of Kra-Dai languages. It is mutually intelligible with tribal Thai languages and Lao. The other Tai Yo and Phuthai
Isan is officially declared the dialect of the Thai language by the Thai government. It is mutually intelligible with Chiang Saen languages and Southwestern Tai language. Thai and Isan are mutually intelligible concerning difficulty level.
This is because they share 80% of the cognate vocabulary, Moreover, Lao and Isan have different vowel and tonal patterns and they are many common words that cannot be understood by language exposure.
Lao Song or Thai Song is a Tai language of Thailand. The Tai Song originated from Phetchaburi Province and from there it moved to other provinces like Ratchaburi, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Suphanburi, Nakhon Sawan, Phitsanulok Phitsanulok, and Samut Songkhram.
Phu Thai is the Southwestern Tai language. People living in Laos and Thailand speak it widely. This Thai dialect is different from Isan and the Lao languages but it is greatly influenced by them. The comparison of the Phu Thai language with other Thai languages such as Tay Khang is not yet identified.
People living in the Northern part of Thailand known as Lanna speak this language. This language is related to Lao. People that speak this dialect called it Tai Yuan. Moreover, they called themselves Khon Mueang which means city dwellers.
The Tai Nyaw or the Nyaw is an ethnic group scattered in Thailand. This dialect is mutually intelligible with Lao and Isan with a little difference in accent and tones. In addition to it, it is closely related to the Phuthai dialects that people of that region speak.
Approximately, 83,000 people in Thailand speak this language. Lu is similar to other Thai languages mainly Tai Yuan and Kham Mueang. The other name of this dialect is the Northern Thai language.
Tai Lu has borrowed many loanwords from Sanskrit and Pali. Just like other Thai languages, Lu is not intelligible with Shan and Tai Nua and with other Southwestern Tai languages.
Do you know that Phuan is a tribal Tai person? They live in Xiangkhouang and parts of the Houaphan provinces of Laos. Different raids are witnessed in the areas that have spread the population in different villages of Phuan in Sakon and other provinces of Thailand.
People speak Phuan in Saraburi, Prachinburi, Phichit, Nakhon Nayok, Phetchabun, Lopburi, Chaiyaphum, and Chachoengsao. Moreover, people living in Bueng Kan Province and the South village of Bangkok also speak this language.
Other Languages Spoken in Thailand
Apart from different dialects, the people of Thailand also speak some other languages. Linguistic diversity in Thailand is because of neighboring countries’ influence and the migration of people that came to live in Thailand.
They bring with them cultural and linguistic changes. As the border of Thailand is closer to Cambodia. Therefore, people living near the border speak Khmer which is the official language of Cambodia.
Similarly, people living in the South of Thailand speak Malay because of the Malaysian border influence.
People of Thailand also speak some local and minority languages because of linguistic diversity in the country. Thailand is a popular tourist spot.
Therefore, knowing the languages of Thailand is mandatory. You may come across. Chinese, English, and Russian speakers but they are present at tourist spots only.
Native Communities and Minority Languages
Many different communities also live in Thailand. These communities include Teochew and Yawi communities. The teochew community depicts old Chinese whereas the Yawi community is from Malay people.
There are 51 native languages that the people of Thailand speak. The most distinguished family groups are Sino-Tibetan, Mon-Khmer, Thai, Hmong-Mien, and Austronesian. The Hmong language has 3.7 million native speakers that are spread in different countries.
The Mon-Khmer family has 16 million speakers that are present in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The native communities in Thailand are called hill tribes, highlanders, and mountain people.
The common languages people speak depend upon native groups that are spread throughout the country. The culture and the region have a great impact on the languages spoken in the country
How Different Languages Develop in Thailand
Language diversity in Thailand is because of its geographical and political isolation from the world. When the population is isolated from other regions then the languages start to develop on their own.
Thus They follow their forefathers’ traditions. When native Thai languages are in development mode, they don’t interact with tribes of different regions.
In addition to it, the borders are under the power of colonization. This causes tribes to stay away from each other. This decolonization process makes communities more isolated and led to the development of unique languages and dialects.
The most popular language people of Thailand speak is Thai. Although they are several other languages that Thai people speak. But the Thai language shows their identity. Thai people are also improving their English proficiency to improve their quality of life.
Language diversity in Thailand makes it an enriched culture and people love to experience and visit this beautiful country. If you are unaware of the Thai language and unable to understand different dialects then do hire a professional translation agency to make your trip to Thailand memorable.
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While the official Thai language is widely spoken throughout Thailand, many Thais also speak and understand English, though more so in Bangkok and the major tourist areas.What are the top 5 languages spoken in Thailand? ›
- Central Thai. Thai language is also known as Central Thai. ...
- Isaan. This name represents all the dialects of the Lao language. ...
- Southern Thai. People in the South of Thailand speak the Southern Thai dialect.
- Northern Thai. This dialect is spoken in the North of Thailand.
Although the Thai language isn't considered to be one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers, that doesn't mean it's impossible. Many aspects make Thai a difficult language to learn, but if you are dedicated and you practice daily, it can also be really easy.Is Thai similar to Chinese? ›
Both languages are based on monosyllabic words, and they have the same sentence pattern, which is S-V-O order. Moreover, they don't conjugate verbs and nouns. Consequently, Thai and Chinese grammar are similar, especially in terms of standard rules in pluralization and spelling patterns.How does Thailand say hello? ›
“Hello” in the Thai language is สวัสดี (sà-wàt-dii). The word “hello,” in Thai means goodness, beauty, prosperity, and safety. Because of its good meaning, Thai people use this word as a greeting to wish other parties well. Sà-wàd-dee has been formally used as “hello” and “goodbye” in Thailand since January 22, 1943.Is Thai hard to translate? ›
With an own unique script and language pattern, Thai is considered a hard language to translate. In translation business Thai translation is a challenge to translation services providers. An in-depth understanding of Thai culture, as well as the language, is needed for successful Thai translations.Is Korean and Thai language same? ›
Thai is a tonal language whereas Korean is not
Korean, on the other hand, is not tonal. This system will be similar to English.
So here, it is time to talk about the Thai dialect closest to the Lao language. Thai-Isan people say there are only slight differences between these two languages. However, the Lao language is not only similar to the Isan language but also shares many similar words with northern Thai.Is Thailand fluent in English? ›
The English language is widely understood, spoken, and written in the biggest cities of Thailand as well as in the major tourist destinations. In the rural parts of Thailand, there are fewer close to no locals who speak or even understand the English language.Is Thailand a Chinese speaking country? ›
Language. Today, nearly all ethnic Chinese in Thailand speak Thai exclusively. Only elderly Chinese immigrants still speak their native varieties of Chinese.