It may appear that asking what languages are spoken in Thailand is a silly question. After all, Thailand only has one official language, which is, of course, Thai. That, however, does not depict the entire picture. With a population of nearly 60 million people and a territory that stretches from China to Malaysia, the language spoken in the nation is unsurprisingly diverse. The culture of the locality shapes these dialects, whether they are employed formally or informally.
Thai is the official language of Thailand, and it is spoken by the vast majority of the country’s citizens. In most cases, though, you will never come across one language in a given nation. Thailand has 73 live languages, 51 of which are indigenous to the country.
Let’s have a look at some of the various dialects and languages spoken in Thailand:
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.
Thailand has been a melting pot of cultures and languages from all over the world in recent years. Its laid-back culture, distinctive food, and gorgeous beaches entice visitors. If you haven’t been there yet, you should absolutely put it on your list. However, before you do so, make sure you know some basic Thai. Alternatively, you may find yourself utilizing Google Translate far too frequently!
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