What are the languages spoken in Thailand? Have you asked yourself this question? If you have, this is the right place to learn!
The answer may seem obvious, since we all know that Thai is the country's official language. However, as a country of over 60 million people and an area that spans from China to Malaysia, there is understandably a lot of diversity in Thailand's languages. Whether formally or informally, these dialects are shaped by the country's rich culture.
Sound interesting? I think it is! So let's look at some of Thailand's different dialects and languages.
As you might already know, 'Thai,' is the most spoken language in Thailand. However, we can find many dialects across the country. These are the 4 most important dialects that you will come across in Thailand.
1. Central Thai. Thai language is also known as Central Thai. This is the primary dialect used in education and the media, and therefore, the official language of the country. It is spoken by people in Central Thai and the majority of Thai Chinese. From the 60 languages in Thailand, this is the most spoken across the country.
2. Isaan. This name represents all the dialects of the Lao language. It is one of the more well-known dialects spoken in the Northeastern region.
3. Southern Thai. People in the South of Thailand speak the Southern Thai dialect.
4. Northern Thai. This dialect is spoken in the North of Thailand.
Central Thai and the rest of the dialects have many differences, but are mutually intelligible for the most part. Also, even smaller groups speak some variations of the Thai language. However, these are nowhere near as widespread around the country.
There are, in fact, many spoken languages in Thailand, so let's dive into the most notable ones. Understandably, sharing a border with another country will lead to people from that country stopping by. Therefore, they will bring their culture and languages with them as well.
In the case of Thailand, there are varying amounts of populations around the border who can speak the corresponding language. For example, closer to Cambodia, many people will have some level of fluency in Khmer, while people from the South of the country speak Malay.
There are also more minor languages brought by minority groups, which are local to the area, offering much more language diversity in the country.
In addition, as a significant tourist destination, language learning has increased, making it easier to communicate with visitors. You can find many Russian, Chinese, and English speakers in Thailand. However, they will mainly be concentrated in tourist destinations.
Isaan is how people refer to the Northeastern region of Thailand. The area is well known for its unique culture, owing to its close relations and proximity to Laos. As I previously said, the Isaan dialect is not Thai but Lao. It has many elements from the Laos language, but primarily uses Thai vocabulary and the Thai alphabet.
Thai people shouldn't have difficulty understanding the Isaan dialect, despite some different vocabulary and accents. However, for Thai learners like us, it might take some time to get used to it before fully understanding this dialect's unique elements.
Have you asked yourself this? You might be planning a trip to Thailand and are concerned about whether you will be able to communicate easily or not. But don't worry. As I mentioned before, there is an incentive for Thai people to learn languages like English due to it being the lingua franca for travelers worldwide. Therefore, communicating in the language can make things much more convenient.
Still, you should know that English-speaking abilities amongst Thais vary quite a lot. English should be relatively widely understood and spoken in major tourist destinations around the country. Generally, communication should go smoothly. However, English becomes much less common as you start to head outside the cities and into the smaller towns and villages.
If you cannot speak Thai, your best bet is to try talking with some younger people or students, as they usually have better English abilities due to improving education. Ultimately, English is quite widely spoken, especially compared to some other countries in the region. Learning at least some Thai words will make things easier for you, though.
While Thai is the most popular language spoken in Thailand, there are notable amounts of other languages spoken and understood. English, for example, is continuing to grow, and the quality of understanding is improving too.
Beyond that, there are many minority languages spoken in Thailand, which comes from different backgrounds, making Thai culture and language experience more enriching for any tourist.
Feel inspired to learn Thai? Before traveling around the country, try learning Thai with Ling App to have the best start to your language learning journey. Test yourself with games, quizzes, and much more!