10 Things You Did Not Know About the Thai Language
The Thai language is a daunting yet beautiful one, and visitors who are lucky enough to travel here will be surprised to find that the Thai language is not all they expected it to be. Here, 10 things you did not know about the Thai language.
1. Everyone ends their sentence with one of two words: kráp or kâ
After every phrase, Thais will say the words kâ (for females) or kráp (for men). It makes a phrase politer and more respectful. For men, the letter ‘r’ in the word kráp is often omitted, as they speak quickly. You will hear the ‘r’ in kráp when someone is speaking on the television or radio or when someone is speaking very politely.
2. Thai is a tonal language
Thai is a tonal language, so all the words visitors hear (or have memorized for their trip) have different meanings depending on the way they are said. This can be very tricky sometimes, as curse words are often the same as everyday vocabulary. The way you say a word will completely change what it means.
3. There are five distinct tones
There are five distinct tones in Thai: middle, falling, rising, low, and high. This is why when Thai people talk, it will sometimes sound like they are instead singing a song.
4. Communication is difficult, but possible
Because it is a tonal language, visitors will find that Thais have trouble understanding travellers even when it sounds like they are saying the word correctly. Try not to get frustrated and continue to practice your Thai throughout your trip. Practice is the only way to improve your Thai, and locals appreciate speaking in their native tongue with foreigners, as well. Many will also help you identify the tone in which you are to use for each word or phrase.
5. There are also different dialects for each region
Numerous dialects are spoken in both the north and the south of Thailand. Just because someone understands you in Southern Thailand does not mean they will understand you in Northern Thailand or Central Thailand, for that matter.
6. Standard Thai is the official language
Standard Thai is the official language of the country, though it is mostly spoken in Central Thailand. Because of this, this is the Thai you will hear on things like the radio and television. It is the most commonly spoken language in the country.
7. There are many outside language influences from other countries
Many languages found outside of Thailand’s borders influenced the language that is spoken here today. For example, the Thai dialect in Northeastern Thailand, otherwise known as Isaan, is linguistically identical to what is spoken in Laos. Other influences come from China, India, and Cambodia, as well.
8. An adjective comes after a noun in Thai
In Thai, the adjective comes after what it is people are describing. For example, if someone speaking Thai loves the food they are eating, they will say “food delicious” instead of “delicious food.”
9. Plural nouns are not a thing
Thai words stay the same when they become plural. A number is added merely before a word, instead.
10. Speaking with the locals is the best way to learn
Locals love it when you try to practice your Thai with them. Unlike other countries where locals might find it frustrating, Thais welcome a foreigner attempting to speak to them in their language. Tourists who attempt to speak Thai will likely find that locals warm up to them faster, and knowing a few phrases also assists visitors in getting discounts at the markets, as well. Whether you want to save some baht or get to know the wonderful people of Thailand, be sure to check out our article on the most important Thai phrases that you should know. Now, get to studying!