ภาษาไทย (paa-săa tai)

Tai-Kadai > Tai > Southwestern Tai (Thai) > Chiang Saen

Spoken by: 20 million according to, 2000

Official in: Thailand

Spoken primarily in: Thailand

Even though Thai, also known as Siamese or Central Thai, is spoken all over Thailand, only a third of the population speaks it as their native language. Most of the others speak related languages, like Northern Thai, Southern Thai and Isan (Northeastern Thai). Many speakers would classify them as dialects of the same language. Thai is mutually intelligible with Lao, the official language of Laos, but not related to any other major language in the area. Thai is a tonal languages, featuring five different tones. The Thai script is derived from the Khmer script, which has developed from Indian scripts. The oldest remains in Thai script are from the late 13th century. The current spelling was developed when Thai featured less tones, but more consonants. This has created a complex spelling.