What languages are spoken in Thailand?
Thailand’s single official language is spoken by about 88% of the country’s 69 million inhabitants. Only 34% of Thai speakers in Thailand consider it their first language.
Thai, often known as Siamese in the past, is a member of the Tai language family, and the “official” form spoken in Thailand is based on a Bangkok dialect.
Different dialects are spoken throughout the nation, with enough diversity that people on opposite sides of the country may struggle to understand one another. Thai is a tonal language, which means that words change meaning depending on how they are spoken. Phu Thai, Shan, Song, Isan, Southern Thai, Nyaw, Northern Thai, Phuan, and Lu are regional Thai dialects.
• Indigenous and minority languages
There are five distinct language families that may be distinguished among Thailand’s 51 indigenous languages. Austronesian, Hmong-Mien, Thai, Mon-Khmer, and Sino-Tibetan are among them.
The Hmong language, which is part of the Hmong-Mien family, has 3.7 million native speakers scattered across many nations. Khmer, a member of the Mon-Khmer family, has an even larger population, with 16 million speakers spread over Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
• Immigrant languages
Burmese (approximately 828,000 speakers), English, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, French, and German, in that order, are the most popular foreign languages in Thailand.
Although English is not strictly an immigrant language, it is a widely spoken second language. Many Thai individuals learn English in school or on their own, and this is especially evident in Bangkok, the country’s commercial hub, as well as other important tourist destinations.