In which language family is Thai


The Thai language

Similar to German, Thai has a standard or written language that is understood throughout the country and is also taught in schools. In addition, there are very different dialects in the various regions of Thailand (south, northeast, north). Northern Thai, for example, has its own vocabulary for many terms, which is fundamentally different from the standard language.

Thai is partly similar to Chinese, but basically comes from its own language family, which also includes Tibetan, Burmese, Vietnamese, Lao and the Khmer language (Cambodia). Thai is particularly related to Lao. The Laotians are in a way like brothers or sisters to Thai, they can understand each other well

A considerable part of the cultural vocabulary has been borrowed from the ancient Indian languages ​​Sanskrit and Pali. The easiest way to recognize words with Sanskrit or Pali origins is by their extraordinary length, because the “real” Thai words consist of only one or two syllables in the vast majority of cases. In everyday language, words from the original Thai are predominantly used, while the terms borrowed from Sanskrit or Pali are mainly used in connection with religion, politics, law, science, education, literature or for personal or family names . The modern Thai language is also increasingly influenced by English terms.

Historically, the Thai written language first emerged verifiably in 1292 (stone tablet of the king Ramkhamhaeng the great of Sukothai).

Thai is written with a letter font, which has nothing in common with Latin. The Thai alphabet comprises 44 consonants, 21 vowels, 10 double and triple sounds, 4 tone symbols and 4 other auxiliary symbols. One difficulty for Thai learners is that certain vowels are written after the consonate, others before, and still others above or below. There are no upper and lower case letters and no spaces between the individual words. Only make a small gap between the sentences. There is also no point or comma, no question mark or exclamation mark That doesn't make learning easy ...

In contrast, the grammar of Thai is extremely simple for the European. The word is basically not changed. So there is no plural form, no declension, no conjugation and thus no present, future and past tenses in the verb. Articles before nouns are also unknown. The sentence construction plans are also very clear and straightforward at the basic level. However, this must never lead to the completely wrong assumption that this is why Thai is a primitive language. On the contrary, Thai is a language with a very high culture. Those who learn long enough will soon be impressed by it. The wealth of words, sentence forms and fixed shades of meaning is overwhelming.

The sound system requires a closer look. For two reasons: Firstly, many Thai sounds do not even appear in the German sound system and, secondly, there are 5 meaning-differentiating syllable tones in Thai. This is something completely new for German speakers. If you pronounce a word in the wrong tone, the meaning changes and you are misunderstood or not understood at all. These tones are medium, low, falling, high and rising.
For example, the word "mah" means dog, but can also mean "horse" or "come" depending on the pronunciation. It is even more difficult with the word "mai". Depending on the pronunciation, it can mean "new", "not", "silk", "burn" or represent a question particle.
The phrase “Khai kai kai kai” - it means “Who sells chicken eggs?” Is particularly well-known in this context. Each “Kai” is emphasized differently and thus has a different meaning.
Even with the consonants there are sometimes subtle nuances that we can hardly paraphrase with our Latin alphabet. Therefore, when learning this language, it is very important to listen carefully and to repeat correctly.