The Thai language is a part of the Tai group under the Kradai language family. The standard form of the language, known as Siamese or Central Thai is used by about 65 million people and is also Thailand’s official language. This makes Thai language significant from the perspective of Thai to English and English to Thai translation.
The unique features of the Thai language
The alphabet used in the Thai script has been taken from the Khmer alphabet. Both, the alphabet as well as the language are quite similar to Lao language and its alphabet. This enables the Thais and the Laos to communicate with each other comfortably.
Standard Thai is not the only language spoken across Thailand, there are a number of dialects or languages that are closely related to Thai language and are used regionally. These are – Northeastern Thai or Isan which is believed to be a dialect of Lao that uses the Thai alphabet. The Nyaw and Galung languages are other languages spoken in Northeast Thailand. Thai Yuan or Nothern Thai is widely popular in the Northern Thailand where it is used by around 6 million people while the dialect Lü is used by about 78,000 people. People in North and Central Thailand speak in the Song dialect, while Pak Dtai or Southern Thai is spoken by about 5 million people.
Thai language’s vowel sounds are significantly different from those of English. In fact some of them bear a similarity with their counterparts in French.
There are two types of consonants- voiced and unvoiced; their incorrect pronunciation can lead to a complete alteration of the meaning of a word. This is made even more difficult due to the presence of various letters with the same sounds. The pronunciation and sounds of certain letters are completely different from one another. Moreover, the sounds of some letters change depending upon their placement at the beginning or ending of a word. But every word in Thai language does not carry a tone, which makes it somewhat easier for beginners.
Thai translators can take heart from the fact that the Thai script follows a simple word order. The nouns do not have plural forms or genders and there are no defined articles as well.
About a quarter of the words used in the Thai language have been taken from French and English but most of the remaining vocabulary contains unique words.
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