Where Does the Thai Language Come From?
There are 44 main and 4 additional consonant letters; at least 28 vowel forms; and 4 tone diacritics in the Thai language. Where do all these come from?
The Thai language is tonal and analytic. It belongs to the Tai-Kadai language family, which is also represented with the Lao, Shan, and Zuang languages.
It is widely believed that the original homeland of the Tai languages was the Chinese province of Guangdong and the northern regions of Vietnam.
From there the ancestors of the Thais brought Thai to the territory of modern Thailand. Over a half of the words in Thai are borrowed from Pali, Sanskrit and Old Khmer.
The Old Khmer script inspired the Thai alphabet, too. The first monument to the Thai script, a stone stele dated 1283, which was discovered by King Mongkut (Rama IV), states the name of the Thai alphabet creator: King Ramkhamhaeng.
Today more than 46M people consider Thai their native language. It is worth noting that Thai is mutually intelligible with its nearest neighbour, Lao.
• There is no difference between lower- and upper-case letters in Thai.
• The majority of Thai words are monosyllabic.
• As a rule, no gaps are placed between the words.