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Mastering the Thai Language

April 18, 2013

The old adage ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ couldn’t be more apt when trying to buy a house in Thailand. As, like in most foreign countries, new neighbours and those helping you through the process of investing in properties for sale in Thailand will smile that much more genuinely if you try to speak just a few words of Thai.


Thai is the national language of Thailand, although it is sometimes also referred to as Siamese. More than 20 million people speak Thai, while around 15 million use Isan, a blend of the Thai and Lao language spoken in the north eastern part of the country. There are a number of other dialects used in other regions of Thailand but standard Thai is taught in schools and universities so those of you looking to buy a house in Thailand  should get by with a smattering of Thai no matter where you are trying to purchase property.

Incredibly in this day and age there are several different levels of Thai used, depending on the situation. Street Thai is used on a daily basis, whilst formal Thai is used in business and in the media. Religious Thai is used when talking to Buddhist monks or when discussing religion whilst royal Thai is used when speaking to members of the royal family, or even just about them.

The bad news for those looking to brush up their language skills before looking at properties for sale in Thailand is that Thai is notoriously hard to master – or for Anglophones and Australians at least. Thai is a tonal language which has derived from a mixture of Sanskrit and Pali words, coupled more recently with a few Chinese, Khmer and Lao words.

There is also a different alphabet which complicates matters further. The Thai alphabet is connected to the Khmer language which is ultimately derived from India.

But learning Thai is by no means an impossible task and there are a number of language schools across the country to help those looking to improve their language skills, including a number of excellent centres in Phuket, Pattaya and of course, in the capital, Bangkok.

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