Published July 24, 2019
This video was recorded by Teddy Nee in Taoyuan City, Taiwan. Thai, also known as Central Thai and historically called Siamese, is spoken by as many as 80 million people in Southeast Asia and by diaspora communities worldwide. According to a 2000 census, it is the mother tongue of up to 36 million people, primarily in Thailand, where it is the sole nationally official language, and Cambodia's Koh Kong District. Similar to Vietnamese and most Chinese languages, Thai is tonal, meaning that pitch and vocal inflection can alter the meaning of a word. A member of the Kra-Dai linguistic family, Thai is most closely related to the Indigenous languages of Laos, Cambodia, northern Vietnam and Southern China. In particular, it is mutually intelligible with Lao and Thailand's own minoritized languages: Isan and Southwestern Tai. Thai has been a literary language since at least the late medieval period, with poetry dating as far back as the 13th century CE. Since the 1800s, a body of Thai prose has emerged and, especially since the turn of the 21st century, the language has been a vehicle of film, television, and Internet content.