Thai Radios app. Thai is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Some words in Thai are borrowed from Pali, Sanskrit and Old Khmer. It is a tonal and analytic language. Thai also has a complex orthography and relational markers. Thai is mutually intelligible with Lao.
Thai is the official language of Thailand, spoken by over 20 million people (2000), Standard Thai is based on the register of the educated classes of Bangkok. Khorat Thai is spoken by about 400,000 (1984) in Nakhon Ratchasima; it occupies a linguistic position somewhere between Siamese Thai and Isan on a dialect continuum, and may be considered a variant of either. A majority of the people in the Isan region of Thailand speak a dialect of the Lao language, which has influenced the Siamese Thai dialect.
In addition to Siamese Thai, Thailand is home to other related Tai languages, including:
Isan (Northeastern Thai), the language of the Isan region of Thailand, a socio-culturally distinct Thai–Lao hybrid dialect which is written with the Thai script. It is spoken by about 15 million people (1983).
Northern Thai (Phasa Nuea, Lanna, Kam Mueang, or Thai Yuan), spoken by about 6 million (1983) in the formerly independent kingdom of Lanna (Chiang Mai).
Southern Thai (Pak Tai), spoken by 4.5 million (2006).
Phu Thai, spoken by about half a million around Nakhon Phanom Province, and 300,000 more in Laos and Vietnam (2006).
Phuan, spoken by 200,000 in central Thailand and Isan, and 100,000 more in northern Laos (2006).
Shan (Thai Luang, Tai Long, Thai Yai), spoken by about 100,000 in north-west Thailand along the border with the Shan States of Burma, and by 3.2 million in Burma (2006).
Lü (Tai Lue, Dai), spoken by about 80,000 (2001) in northern Thailand, and 600,000 more in China, Burma, and Laos (1981–2000).
Nyaw language, spoken by 50,000 in Nakhon Phanom Province, Sakhon Nakhon Province, Udon Thani Province of Northeast Thailand (1990)
Song, spoken by about 30,000 in central and northern Thailand (2000).
Most speakers of dialects and minority languages speak Central Thai as well, since it is the language used in schools and universities all across the kingdom.
Numerous languages not related to Thai are spoken within Thailand. Near Laos and Burma, ethnic minority hill tribes people speak Hmong–Mien (Yao), Karen, Lisu, and others. Near Cambodia many communities speak Khmer, and the Mon-Khmer language variously known as Suay (ส่วย) Guay or Kuay (กวย) (also spoken in central Suphanburi province.
Siamese Thai is composed of several distinct registers, forms for different social contexts:
Street or common Thai (ภาษาพูด, spoken Thai): informal, without polite terms of address, as used between close relatives and friends.
Elegant or formal Thai (ภาษาเขียน, written Thai): official and written version, includes respectful terms of address; used in simplified form in newspapers.
Rhetorical Thai: used for public speaking.
Religious Thai: (heavily influenced by Sanskrit and Pāli) used when discussing Buddhism or addressing monks.
Royal Thai (ราชาศัพท์): (influenced by Khmer) used when addressing members of the royal family or describing their activities.
Most Thais can speak and understand all of these contexts. Street and elegant Thai are the basis of all conversations; rhetorical, religious and royal Thai are taught in schools as the national curriculum.
(ภาษาไทย Phasa Thai [pʰāːsǎː tʰāj], more precisely Central Thai or Siamese
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