(On Thailand and Its Language)
Gaano mo kakilala ang mga karatig-bansa ng Pilipinas sa Timog-Silangang Asya? Ang pagkilala sa kultura ng ibang bansa ay nagpapahiwatig ng respeto hindi lamang sa mga bansang ito kundi pati sa mga taong naninirahan sa mga bansang iyan.
In the World Map
Known as Siam until 1939, the Kingdom of Thailand (capital: Bangkok) is a tropical country in Southeast Asia. It is situated between Indian Ocean and South China Sea and bordered by Myanmar (Burma) to the west and north, by Laos to the northeast, by Cambodia to the east, and by Malaysia to the south. It is geographically divided into five regions: the Central Plains, a natural basin often described as a fertile rice bowl; East, the smallest; the forested and mountainous North; the Northeast, an agriculturally unproductive plateau; and the South, a peninsula lined with tropical beaches and islands. Seventy-six provinces (counting Bangkok as the 76th) comprise these diverse regions, all of which a railway system connects to the capital city.
The Thai Language
Spoken by about twenty-five million people in Thailand today, Thai is the country’s official language. It is a conglomeration of the Chinese-influenced monosyllabic language of the early Thai settlers, certain loan Khmer (Cambodian) words, and polysyllabic Sanskrit (classic Hindu) words.
Thai is a tonal language; each word has pitch characteristics that the speaker must sound off properly in order for it to be understood. The language employs five tones—middle, low, high, rising, and falling—which are important components of the Thai writing system. Another interesting feature of Thai is the presence of male and female forms: males end sentences with khrup while females with khai.
The Thai Writing System
Quite complicated, the Thai writing system is an alphasyllabary that consists of forty-four basic consonants (grouped into three classes) and eleven characters representing the numerals. Some historians believe that this alphasyllabary originated from the alphabet King Ramkhamhaeng (1275–1317) created for writing the Siamese language.
Each of the consonants of the Thai alphasyllabary can become a consonantal syllable by having the inherent vowel sound ‘o’, when occurring in the middle of a word, or ‘a’, when appearing as a final syllable. This is indicated using diacritics placed in front of, above, below, or after the consonants that they modify.
Since that Thai is a tonal language, a variation in the tone used in vocalizing a syllable or a word alters the meaning of the spoken syllable or word. This is expressed in written form with the help of the following elements:
1. Consonant class (class 1, 2, or 3), which determines the tone of a syllable;
2. Type of syllable (open or closed [closed syllables are those ending with ‘p’, ‘t’, or ‘k’]);
3. Tone marker (middle, low, high, rising, or falling); and
4. Length of the vowel (short or long).
Sa Madaling Salita
Bagama’t ang Thailand ay may sariling lenggwahe at paraan ng pagsusulat at pagsasalita nito, mapapansing marami sa mga katangian nito ay mababanaag din sa kultura ng ilan sa mga karatig-bansa nito.
Or, In Simple Words
Despite the idiosyncrasies of Thailand’s language and writing system, one would realize in deeper inspection that they have many characteristics found also in the languages and writing systems especially of Thailand’s fellow Southeast Asian countries.