For linguahiles in search of a challenge this summer, the Thai language may just be what you are searching for. Thai uses 66 letters – 44 consonants, 18 vowels, and 4 tone marks – in addition to five tones to distinguish words – rising, falling, low, mid, high. Written Thai does not utilize spaces between words; there is no standardized means of spelling (vowels can be written before, after, on top of, or below the consonant that they are paired with); and phonetic transliteration into English is not standard and can be misleading/incorrect at times. Most Thai citizens speak Central Thai, but there are numerous dialects found in the country, along with different registers that are mandated by one’s audience and context.
However, some aspects of the Thai language can be quite easy for English heritage speakers. For example, Thai follows the Subject-Object-Verb sentence structure, as in English. Moreover, Thai words are not influenced with aspects such as gender, case, number or tense. If Thai speakers wish to discuss time, quantifiable amounts, etc. they will use time words, number words, and additional words and morphemes (a morpheme the smallest aspect of a language that maintains a meaning and/or grammatical purpose) to convey ideas such as number or tense.
If you want to learn more about Thai language and culture, the sites listed below are an excellent start: