Language section number: 351

How to register for Critical Language Classes

Thai is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people and the vast majority of Thai Chinese. It is spoken by over 20 million people.

Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Over half of the words in Thai are borrowed from Pali, Sanskrit and Old Khmer. It is a tonal and analytic language. Thai also has a complex orthography and relational markers. Spoken Thai is mutually intelligible with Laotian; the two languages are written with slightly different scripts, but linguistically similar.

Thai is composed of several distinct registers, forms for different social contexts:

  • Street or common Thai (ภาษาพูด, phasa phut, spoken Thai): informal, without polite terms of address, as used between close relatives and friends.
  • Elegant or formal Thai (ภาษาเขียน, phasa khian, written Thai): official and written version, includes respectful terms of address; used in simplified form in newspapers.
  • Rhetorical Thai: used for public speaking.
  • Religious Thai: (heavily influenced by Sanskrit and Pāli) used when discussing Buddhism or addressing monks.
  • Royal Thai (ราชาศัพท์, racha sap): (influenced by Khmer) used when addressing members of the royal family or describing their activities.

Most Thais can speak and understand all of these contexts. Street and elegant Thai are the basis of all conversations.[citation needed] Rhetorical, religious, and royal Thai are taught in schools as the national curriculum

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Thai language", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

CLP Tutors

Critical Languages Program logo

Apassara Kolb

Prawet Jantharat

Prawet Jantharat

"Prawet is an absolute pleasure. He provides attention to detail and is meticulous in his lessons, but he also grants a lot of patience to me as a student who is still learning. I look forward to continuing my lessons!"

CLP Student | Thai 102