Language History

Belonging to the proto-Tai family, Thai is believed to have emerged somewhere between the border of Vietnam and China in the 8th century AD. Also known as Siamese, Thai has three major branches including Northern Tai, Central Tai, and Southwestern Tai.

In 1283, the Sukhothai period king, Ramkhamhaeng, initiated written Thai. Based on Pali, Sanskrit, and Indian, and incorporating words from Mon and Khmer, the written language is not so different from its current one, which means it can be read by Thai scholars of today. The Asian language is said to be connected to languages spoken in eastern Burma (Myanmar), northern Vietnam, Yunnan, and Laos.

There are around 50 million Thai speakers around the world. 20 million of these are native speakers (according to records from 2000 and 2001, respectively).

Where is Thai Spoken?

Thai is the official language of Thailand, but it is also spoken in countries including the Midway Islands, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

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Fun Fact!

Did you know the word ‘thai’ means ‘free’ in the Thai language?Did you know the word ‘thai’ means ‘free’ in the Thai language?

Did you Know?

Thai is a tonal language, meaning each word is characterised by a specific pitch. The Thai language has 5 tones – mid, low, high, rising, and falling.

Thai Dialects

There are variations of Thai dialects – regional dialects and social dialects.

Regional Dialects:

• The “khammuang” or Northern dialect

• The “lao” or Northeastern dialect

• The “tai” or Southern dialect

• The “klang” or Central dialect


Social Dialects:

• High form – “used when talking about members of the royal family, high ranking Buddhist clergy, and persons of high social status”.

• Low form – “used in everyday situations and when talking about persons other than those listed above under high form”.


“Once you’re able to speak Thai, you can easily comprehend Lao, Khmer and other Tai-Kadai languages, too.”

4 Easy Phrases in Thai!

Sawadee khrup/kaHello
Khop khun (khrup/ka)Thank you
Khor thoad khrup/kaSorry/excuse me
Sa bai dee mai khrup/kaHow are you?

Population vs. Internet Penetration

Thailand Population:


Internet Users:




As of 2020. Source:


Thai is read phonetically from left to right. It has more letters than the   – e.g. there are four different letters for “s”!

Thai Translation Tips

• Thai characters are placed left to right, without spaces, to create syllables, words, and sentences.

• Words do not change or conjugate according to tense, person, possession, gender, number, or subject-verb agreement.

• The words ‘a’, ‘an’, or ‘the’ are not used in the Thai language.

• Like English, sentences are structured by the subject, verb, then the object.

• There are 18 vowels in the Thai language and the vowel length determines word meaning.

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