An introduction to the Thai language

Description and history

Thai is a tonal, uninflected Tai-Kadai language that has been heavily influenced by Khmer, Indic, and English loans.

The Thai writing system was developed from the Devanagari system, which originated in India and came to Thailand via Cambodia. The first known written inscription in Thai dates from 1283 A.D., during the Sukhothai period. The monarch during that period, King Ramkhamhaeng, is usually credited with the invention of the system.

A major difference between the Chinese and Thai writing systems is that Chinese makes use of a large number of ideographic symbols, while Thai uses alphabets of consonants, vowels, tone marks, and special symbols. With a few exceptions, Thai words can be pronounced simply from reading them, in a manner similar to English, but more consistent.