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Official Languages in Thailand: Guide For Business

Posted by Ethan N. on November 14, 2023.

Business owners and organizations of all sizes, from small SMEs to major corporations, are finding that doing business with foreigners is another way to generate great prospects. The ability to understand language is a crucial component of your company’s performance. If you want to enter the Thai market, you should think about utilizing the services of professional languages in Thailand translation.

1. Thai Language’s History

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Consonants

The Thai language contains forty-four consonants. The three classes of consonants—low, middle, and high—along with the vowel length and tone markers aid in identifying the tone of a syllable. Observe how many of the consonants have the same sound, in contrast to the English language. To make it easier for you to recall which consonant is being used in a given word, each one has an associated word. Consider the expressions “a is for apple,” “b is for boat,” “c is for cookie,” and so on.

Grammar

Thai grammar differs greatly from that of Western languages in terms of simplicity. Most notably, there is no conjugation or modification of words for gender, tenses, plurals, or subject-verb agreement. Additionally, no articles like “a,” “an,” or “the” are used. Verb-to-noun conversion, tenses, degrees of politeness, and other linguistic ideas are achieved by simply adding different modifying words, or “particles,” to the standard subject-verb-object structure.

Tones

The English language is also alphabetic, unlike the Chinese language, where a word’s sound is determined by its meaning. However, Thai is tonal, just like Chinese, unlike English. This indicates that a word’s specific pitch needs to be pronounced in order for it to be comprehended. There are five tones in languages in Thailand: mid, low, high, rising, and falling.

Borrow Words

In East and South-East Asia, Thai is among the ancient languages. Linguists speculate that, at least in its archetypal form, it may even predate Chinese. An abundance of what are commonly believed to be Thai “loan-words” that originated in China are actually Austro-Thai in origin. Either way, being monosyllabic tonal languages, Chinese and Thai share a lot of characteristics. 

Languages in Thailand consist of a large number of Sanskrit loanwords, indicating that Thai literature, which was originally produced in Buddhist literature, was greatly influenced by this ancient Indian language. Direct or indirect descendants of Sanskrit make up more than half of its vocabulary.

2. Thai spoken languages 

Thai

The majority of people in Thailand speak Thai, which is the country’s official language. More than 69 million people speak Thai (2020). Pali, Sanskrit, Mon, and Old Khmer comprise more than half of its vocabulary.

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Up to the 13th century, when the use of Chinese characters was abandoned in favor of scripts strongly influenced by Sanskrit, the Chinese language had a significant influence on languages in Thailand. It’s interesting to note how many words from Middle Chinese are still used in Thai terminology. Because the tones of Thai and Chinese are similar, many native Chinese speakers find learning Thai to be easy, and vice versa.

English

At 44%, English comes in second. Anyone who has visited Bangkok or other well-known tourist locations like Phuket or Koi Samui will not be surprised by this. English is not only the de facto language of tourism in Thailand, but it is also widely used in cities and the universal language of commerce.

Furthermore, a large number of Thai nationals attend basic, secondary, and university levels where they study English as a second language. Fluency in English is more common in younger persons.

Chinese

Since Thai Chinese make up the largest ethnic minority in Thailand, with 11–14% of the population, Chinese are widely spoken there (8.5%) among languages in Thailand.

Over the past 200 years, Thai Chinese have assimilated into Thai society to a great extent. The King Rama I, who was partially Chinese himself, established the current Thai royal dynasty, the Chakri Dynasty.

The descendants of ethnic Chinese and native Thais make up a sizable portion of the Thai Chinese population; many of these descendants have blended into Thai society and identify as Thais only.

Cantonese and Hokkien are the other two most widely spoken Chinese dialects in Thailand, after Mandarin.

Burmese

A tiny percentage of Thai people with Burmese heritage speak Burmese.

The majority of Burmese speakers reside in Tak province’s Mae Sot district and other border towns close to Myanmar. The Shan language, which is also spoken in some areas of northern Thailand and Myanmar, is actually the source of the Burmese dialect that is spoken in Mae Sot.

Following the coup d’état in 2021, the civil war in Myanmar has also resulted in a significant influx of Burmese refugees into Thailand and neighboring countries.

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3. Why Is Thai Translation Important?

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Tourism 

Thailand is ranked second in Southeast Asia, right behind Singapore, in terms of the volume of its external commerce. You can only imagine the significance and influence that Thailand and the languages in Thailand have on businesses across borders, given the country’s expanding economy and the thriving travel and medical tourism industries!

Business expansion

Thailand’s economy is the second largest in Southeast Asia. It is hailed as a fantastic development and success story by the World Bank. The gross domestic output of Thailand is $500 billion. It is rapidly advancing in the financial industry, automotive, tourism, textiles, and agriculture.

In contrast to subtitling, which is a written format that describes what is happening in the video, voiceover is the spoken translation of spoken conversation over the screen. You need to use Thai voiceovers and subtitles if you want to reach people in Southeast Asia.

When using voiceovers and subtitling in Thai for their marketing materials and training modules, several international businesses have found remarkable success.

E-commerce

In Thailand, there are currently almost 50 million internet users, and a staggering 85 percent of those surveyed by GlobalWebIndex between the ages of 16 and 64 said they currently make purchases online.

Therefore, it only makes sense to start investing in e-commerce translation as soon as possible. By doing this, you may close a deal, strengthen your bond with clients, and increase brand loyalty.

Translation of your online store from the languages in Thailand into other languages is one technique to improve accessibility and consumer experience on your website.

4. Conclusion

You must work with a reputable translation agency for any Thai interpretation needs, including simultaneous or consecutive interpretation as well as Thai subtitling and dubbing. These companies employ native-speaking, qualified Thai translators who are aware of the various dialects and varieties of the languages in Thailand used throughout the globe.

Consequently, you want Thai translation in any language pair. GTE Localize offers you flawless Thai translation services at reasonable prices and with quick response times.