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Thai Language Facts and Information

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Extinct: no
Family: Sino-Tibetan
Branch: Tai
Continent: Asia
Country: Thailand
 
Region: THAI: Central Thailand, centered in Bangkok. Khorat dialect in Ratchasima. Also spoken in Midway Islands, Singapore, UAE, USA. THAI, SIGN: Major regional centers and Bangkok. NORTHEASTERN: Northeastern; 17 provinces. Kalerng is in Sakon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom. NORTHERN: Chiangmai, Chiangrai, Lamphun, Lampang, Maehongson, Hot, Nan, Phayao, Phrae, Uttaradit, Tak provinces. Also spoken in Laos. SOUTHERN: Chumphon, Nakorn Srithammerat; 14 provinces total. Muslim Tai in provinces of Chumporn, Nakorn Srithammerat, Phattalung, Songkhla, Ranong, Phanga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang, Satun.
Countries Where Spoken: THAI: 20,000,000 to 25,000,000 in Thailand (1990 A. Diller), including 400,000 Khorat (1984), 4,704,000 mother tongue Thai speakers who are ethnic Chinese, or 80% of the Chinese (1984). Population total all countries 20,047,000 to 25,000,000. THAI, SIGN: 51,000 profoundly, prelingually deaf people in Thailand (1997 Charles B. Reilly). 20% of deaf children go to school, where they get the opportunity to learn this language. NORTHEASTERN: 15,000,000 (1983 SIL) to 23,000,000 including Lao, at least 1,000,000 in Bangkok. Kalerng has a few thousand speakers (1990 A. Diller ANU). NORTHERN: 6,000,000 in Thailand (1983 SIL). Population total both countries 6,003,000. Laos. SOUTHERN: 5,000,000 (1990 A. Diller ANU), including 1,500,000 Muslim Tai (1981 Wurm and Hattori).
Countries Where Official: Thailand
   
Native Speakers: 20,047,000
Speakers Total: 25,000,000
  
Phrasebase members who speak Thai at a native level: 1,748
Phrasebase members who speak Thai at a conversational level: 1,748
Phrasebase members primary language they are trying to learn is Thai: 2,007
Phrasebase members secondary language they are trying to learn is Thai: 2,792
  
Three Letter Code: THJ
Alternative Names: CENTRAL TAI, STANDARD THAI, THAIKLANG, SIAMESE, ISAN, ISAAN, ISSAN, LANNA, LAN NA, LANATAI, "YUAN", PHYAP, PHAYAP, PAYAP, KAMMÜANG, KAMMYANG, MYANG, KAM MU"ANG, MU"ANG, KHON MUNG, KHON MYANG, TAI NYA, LA NYA, NORTHERN THAI, WESTERN LAOTIAN, PAK THAI, PAK
Dialects:
 
Summary: THAI: People sometimes called "Siamese." Official language. Grammar. SVO. Thai script. Radio programs. Buddhist, Christian. Bible 1883-1990. THAI, SIGN: The first deaf school was established in 1951, with influence from Gallaudet University in the USA. It uses a combination of indigneous signs and ASL. Before 1950 Chiangmai and Bangkok had their own separate but related sign languages, and probably other "urban" areas had their own sign languages, related to present sign languages in parts of Laos and Vietnam, including Haiphong. The signs used at the deaf school at Tak are reported to be very different. Bilingualism in Central Thai. All deaf born since 1951, and some older ones. Total communication used in school: speaking and signing. Reported to be high mobility among most deaf people today. The sign language used in the classroom and that by deaf adults outside is different. There is a manual system for spelling. Dictionary. Literacy rate in second language: Fewer than 10%. Educated deaf people have some Thai literacy skills, but limited. TV. Buddhist. NORTHEASTERN: The Korat dialect is quite different, and may be a separate language. 88% use Isan in the home, 1% use Central Thai, 11% use both. The people are called "Isan." Investigation needed: intelligibility with Korat. SVO. Thai script used. Buddhist. NORTHERN: The Nan dialect is more distinct. Rural or uneducated speakers have limited bilingualism in Central Thai. 87.5% use Northern Tai in the home, 3% use Central Thai, 9.5% use both. People are called "Khon Mung", but do not like the name "Yuan." Has had Yuan script for a long time, in which are written Buddhist sermons, inscriptions, the Bible. Not used much now. Few can read it. Thai script has been used for literature in Northern Thai also, although it lacks some necessary contrasts. Newspapers. Buddhist. Bible 1927, out of print. SOUTHERN: A group of dialects more distantly related to other Tai languages. The border dialects are quite distinct from others. 81% use Southern Tai in the home, 8.5% use Central Tai, 10.5% use both. Muslim Tai ("Thai Malay") speak only Southern Tai. Investigation needed: bilingual proficiency in Central Thai. Buddhist, Muslim, Christian.
 

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