The origins of the Thai Language

Thai or phasa-thai is the national language of Thailand and is a member of the Tai-Kadai language family. Many Thai words have its origin in Pali, Sanskrit and old style Khmer as well as Mon language. The Thai is a tonal language with 5 main tones with different pitches which can be quite hard for Westerners trying to learn Thai to pick up! Spoken Thai has many similarities with Lao language and is believed to have originated in the area between Vietnam and China.

The Thai writing system has undergone little change since it was introduced in the third Sukhothai period by King Ramkhamhaeng in 1283. It’s interesting to note inscriptions from the Sukhothai era does not need any additional Thai translation or clarification as the scripts can still be read and understood in its original form by all Thais. Even though the Thai writing system is standardized throughout the nation, there are significant regional dialects in spoken language:

North Eastern Thailand (Issan): Thais from this region sometimes refer to this dialect as ‘Lao’ in informal contexts which also includes the numerous Lao dialects in Issan and surrounding areas, as the languages are all closely related. The dialect, also casually referred to as ‘Issan Language’ can be quite difficult to comprehend for Thais from other parts of Thailand.

Northern Thai: The dialects in this region are referred to as Phasa Nuea ‘Phasa’ means language and ‘Nua’ means north, Lanna, Kham Mueang and Thai Yuan. These dialects go back to the time of the old Kingdom of Chiang Mai (Lanna) and surrounding areas and were in the past referred to as ‘Lao’ by Siamese Thais.

Southern Thai: Also referred to as Thai Tai, Pak Tai, Phasa Tai. ‘Tai’ means ‘South’ and is spoken by people in the South of Thailand.
It’s typical fast pace can be confusing for Thais from other regions. If you hire an interpreter or Thai translator e.g for a business meeting in Bangkok it’s understood you will need a Central Thai speaker and accents will normally not be an issue at all. Thai people speak Central Thai as a ‘neutral’ accent, but if you are traveling to regional Thailand it’s good to be mindful of these accents and that Thai speakers can informally speak their local regional dialects in different social contexts.

The Thai alphabet overall has 44 Thai consonants and 15 basic vowel characters. The language reads left to right with its characters placed horizontally without any space in between the characters to form words and sentences. Vowels are placed above, below, before or after the consonant they govern. Both the character for vowels and some consonants can also be combined in different ways to form compounded vowels.

It’s highly recommended that Desktop Publishing in Thai is done by a native Thai. If time and money is invested in conveying its meaning into Thai, it’s essential to not falter on the finishing line and end up with a poorly formatted text as it’s likely to make your message fall on deaf ears or be misunderstood as a foreign message.

Not unlike Chinese, Thai also has unique pitch characteristics. The Thai language has 5 main tones that must be pronounced properly to be understood; mid, low, high, rising and falling tone.
Oftentimes we receive that translation for review from other parties with vowels and tone marks that have been cut off as well as unusual line breaks in print materials. It really needs to be checked by a Thai translator by a Thai Localization Firm such as VEQTA’s Thai team for the best outcome and avoid any issues.

VEQTA can provide you with a perfect Thai translator for your Thai translationEnglish to Thai translation and Thai to english translation for the your targeted locale. Our translations to Thai are created with your target audience in mind to meet your expectations.

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