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Thailand - The Thai Language

The official language of Thailand is Thai.

The Thai language is also a common second language of parts of China, Laos and Vietnam with well over 30 million speakers. A member of the 'Tai' group of languages, developed from many siamese dialects to unite the Thai people back in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Thai is a branch of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages, spoken over a wide area of Asia, from Northern India to Vietnam.

The Thai language is distantly related to Chinese and there are distinct dialects which are spoken around Thailand. In the north the words are spoken slowly almost sung, whereas in the south words are spoken quite quickly and sharply.

The Thai Language is a tonal language, so the pitch or tone with which a word or syllable is pronounced determines its meaning. One word can (and usually does) have at least three meanings depending wether the tone is low, rising, neutral (medium), high or falling!

The same form is used for both singular and plural. Besides that there are no tenses either as the same verb covers the whole gambit, past, present and future!

The Thai alphabet is believed to have originated in southern India. Consisting of 44 consonants and 32 vowels. The vowels are not actual characters but are indicated by marks that can be arranged anywhere around the word - there is no consistency rule here. There are no capital letters in Thai and words are generally written without being separated from each other - which can be confusing to the western eye, and letters flow uninterrupted until the theme of the sentance changes. When spaces in the text do occur, they often correspond to some form of punctuation mark in English such as a period, (full stop,) comma or question mark.

You can listen to 'Hello' and 'Goodbye' in Thai HERE

There is a free on-line learning centre at


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