Thailand, formerly known as Siam, is a country of southeast Asia on the Gulf of Thailand (formerly the Gulf of Siam), an arm of the South China Sea. Bangkok is the capital and the largest city. Population: 59,396,000. Standard Thai is the national and official language of Thailand and the mother tongue of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai comes from the Tai group of the Tai-Kadai language family. The Tai-Kadai languages are thought to have originated in southern China. It is a tonal and analytic language. The combination of tonality, a complex orthography, relational markers and a distinctive phonology can make Thai difficult to learn for those who do not already speak a related language. In addition to Standard Thai also known as Central Thai or Siamese, which is the official language of Thailand, it is home to other related Tai languages and many of these languages are spoken by larger numbers outside of Thailand. Most speakers of dialects and minority languages speak Standard Thai as well, since it is the language used in schools and universities all across the kingdom.
Standard Thai is composed of several distinct forms for different social contexts. Street Thai, which is informal and without polite terms of address. Elegant Thai, which is the official and written version, and includes respectful terms of address. Rhetorical Thai which is used for public speaking. Religious Thai which is heavily influenced by Sanskrit and Pāli used when discussing Buddhism or addressing monks. Royal Thai which is used when addressing members of the royal family.
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