Languages of Thailand - Thai Dialects, Phrases and Meanings

Thai, more specifically known as Siamese Thai, is the official language of Thailand and is spoken by well over eighty per cent of the country's population of over seventy million. Sharing borders with neighbour Laos, the official language of Thailand is closely related to the official language of Laos, known as Lao, which is also spoken in Myanmar. Thai is also said to have links with numerous languages spoken in small regions in northern Vietnam southern China. In Thailand, Thai is used in all office administration work, in media, and in schools. The language's standard is based on the dialect of Bangkok, and it is written in the Thai alphabet, which has originated from the Khmer script. Thailand is home to 71 living languages, out of which 62 domestic languages are officially recognised.

Regional Dialects of Thai Language

There are four major regional dialects of the Thai language. There's Southern Thai, which as the name suggests, is spoken in the southern part of the country. Yuan, or more commonly known as Northern Thai is spoken in the Northern parts of the country. Similarly, there's Northeastern Thai, spoken in the Northeastern region and the Siamese Thai, national language and the most common of them all, used majorly in schools, media, entertainment purposes, and is widely spoken and understood by the country's population.

There are minor dialects in addition to the four major ones, spoken by a minimal but notable size of the population. Some of them are mentioned below:

Royal Thai: Royal Thai is used to addressing members of the Royal family of Thailand and is primarily influenced by the Khmer language.

Religious Thai: Religious Thai is used while discussing Buddhism by monks and other religious persons, such as religious leaders.

Formal Thai: Formal Thai is used in official forms and letters. It is used primarily by the country's media houses and newspapers. The dialect is also known as Elegant Thai.

Rhetorical Thai: Rhetorical Thai is seen during public speeches.

Common Thai: Common Thai, also known as Street Thai, is the informal dialect used during casual conversations between friends and family and to talk with tourists.

Languages Spoken In Thailand
Thai Language
Source

Other Languages in Thailand

While Thai is the most spoken language in Thailand, it is not the only language that the people of Thailand speak. There are several minority languages which you will come across when you visit this beautiful Southeast Asian nation. The Lao dialect of Isan is by far the most spoken minority language in the Northeastern Thai region.

Yawi, a dialect of the Malay language is the first and primary language of the Malay Muslims, living in Thailand's most southern region.

A substantial ethnic Chinese population also resides in Thailand. Thus, a wide variety of Chinese languages are also spoken all over the country. Varieties that include Cantonese, Mandarin, and Teochew among which Teochew is the most spoken Chinese dialect in Thailand.

Tribal languages also exist within the borders of Thailand, most of which belong to the Khmer or Mon-Khmer family.

English in Thailand

English is widely spoken in cities, especially in Bangkok. As English is also a mandatory language taught in schools and colleges, the number of English speakers keep on increasing substantially.

The role of the English in Thailand is growing thanks to the influx of tourists who flock in every year. With the help of new technologies, especially the internet, fields of business, education, science, demand a high proficiency in English.

The number of English speaking Thai residents have increased over the last decade, especially in Thailand and the growing trend is relatively noticeable.

Tips For Tourists

You don't need to have a proficiency in the Thai language to visit Thailand, but it always helps when you have to talk to locals who are not familiar with English. In case you have to deal with a non-English speaking person or tuk-tuk drivers when buying tickets for trains or buses, it is advisable to write down instructions on paper and hand it over. You can take help from other people on the streets or copy down phrases from a Thai dictionary.

Common Thai Phrases and Their Meanings

Hello Sawatdii
How are you? Sabaaidii mai?
I'm fine Sabaaidii
I'm not well Mai sabaii
I come from (India) Pom/Chan maa jaak (India)
What country are you from? Kun maa jaak bprateet arai?
Thank you Khop kun
Sorry Khot hort
No problem Mai bpenrai
Goodbye Bai
Can you speak English? Kun pood paasaa anggrit dai mai
What is your name? Kun chuu arai?
My name is __ P'm / Chán chuu __.
Speak slowly Puut chaa chaa noi

Phrases To Use While Traveling

Do you use the meter? Chai meter mai
Nearby Glai glai
Go straight Dtrong bpai
Go left Leo saai
Go right Leo kwaa
Stop Yut
Go to the airport Bpai sanam bin
Station Sataanii
Bus stop Bpaai rot mee
Bus Rot mee
Skytrain Rodfai faa
Subway Rodfai dtaaidin
Aeroplane Kruang bin
Minibus Rot dtuu
Car Rot
Bicycle Jakgrayaan
Motorcycle Moodteesai
Boat Rua

Words Implying Questions

Where? Tiinai?
What? Arai?
When? Muarai?
How? Yangngai?
Why? Tum mai?

Phrases To Use While Shopping

How much? Taorai
Very expensive Paang mak
Can you reduce the price? Lod noi dai mai
I want this one Ao annii

Phrases To Use In Case Of Emergency

Where is the police station? Sataanii dtamruat yoo tee nai
Where is the hospital? Rongpayaabaan yoo tee nai
Call an ambulance Dahm rot pa-ya-bahn
I'm lost Long tahng
Can you help Choo-ay dai mai

A country's culture in its truest form is seen in its languages, and that is evident in Thailand. So "Thiaw Hai Sanook" (have fun travelling) on your next trip to Thailand.

This post was published by Yash Saboo

Share this post on social media
Google +

Thailand Packages

Compare quotes from upto 3 travel agents for free

Related Articles

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Currency of Thailand: A Guide to the Baht

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Safety in Thailand - Safety Tips When Travelling in Thailand

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

20 Interesting Facts About Thailand You Must Know Before You Visit

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

22 Travel Tips to Thailand To Follow For A Hassle-Free Holiday

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Smoking in Thailand: All About Thailand's Strict Laws & the Penalty

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Smoking in Thailand - The Essential Smoker's Guide

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Online Visa For Thailand - Necessary Details For a Hassle-Free Thai Trip

Adventure

Adventure

Visa Free Stays For Indians In Thailand Soon!

Shopping

Shopping

Shopping in Thailand - Things to Buy, Street Shopping & Malls in Thailand!

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Thailand in October - Weather, Best Places, Events & Festivals

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Thailand in February - Best Places, Weather, Events and Festivals and Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Thailand in November - Weather, Best Places, Events, Festivals and Travel Tips

Shopping

Shopping

What to Buy in Thailand - 18 Souvenirs To Get On Your Next Trip

Art & Culture

Art & Culture

10 Traditional Dresses of Thailand That Portray Thai Fashion Culture

Food & Drink

Food & Drink

Mangoes in Thailand - Your Guide To The Famous Thai Ma-Muang!

Adventure

Adventure

Surfing In Thailand - An Upcoming Surfing Paradise

Fairs & Festivals

Fairs & Festivals

12 Festivals in Thailand That You Must Experience!

Art & Culture

Art & Culture

15 Examples of the Architecture of Thailand - Landmarking Thai Brilliance

Adventure

Adventure

7 Best Places for Kitesurfing in Thailand - The Complete Guide

Wildlife & Nature

Wildlife & Nature

Ethical Elephant Sanctuaries In Thailand

Wildlife & Nature

Wildlife & Nature

Whale Sharks in Thailand - Best Diving Spots To See Whale Sharks

Experiences

Experiences

Music Festivals in Thailand for an Experience of a Lifetime

Art & Culture

Art & Culture

10 Temples in Thailand You Have to Visit

Beaches & Islands

Beaches & Islands

34 Islands In Thailand - Experience The Best The Country Has To Offer

Art & Culture

Art & Culture

Ruins of Thailand: Stories of Ancient Glory

Fairs & Festivals

Fairs & Festivals

Bun Bang Fai Rocket Fest in Thailand 2019

Experiences

Experiences

6 Health Retreats In Thailand For A Truly Relaxing Holiday

Food & Drink

Food & Drink

Food of Thailand - 14 Thai Dishes to Get You Drooling

Adventure

Adventure

Snorkelling in Thailand: 5 Best Islands for an Underwater Adventure!

Food & Drink

Food & Drink

Street Food of Thailand: All You Need to Know to Find the Right Delicacy in this Southeast Asian Country

Family Holidays

Family Holidays

Indians Get Free Visa-on-arrival to Thailand till April 2021! All You Need to Know

Comments on this post