Thai

Authored by: Thomas John Hudak

The World’s Major Languages

Print publication date:  November  2008
Online publication date:  January  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415353397
eBook ISBN: 9780203301524
Adobe ISBN: 9781134261567

10.4324/9780203301524.ch39

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Abstract

Thai (Siamese, Central Thai) belongs to the Tai language family,subgroup of the Kadai or Kam-Tai family.number of linguists now regard Kam-Tai, along with Austronesian, asbranch of Austro-Tai, although this hypothesis remains controversial. All members of the Tai family derive fromsingle proto-parent designated as Proto-Tai. Linguistic research has shown the area near the border of northern Vietnam and southeastern China as the probable place of origin for the Tai languages. Today the Tai family includes languages spoken in Assam, northern Burma, all of Thailand including the peninsula, Laos, northern Vietnam and the Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou (Kweichow) and Guangxi (Kwangsi). Linguists, notably Fang Kuei Li, divide these languages intoNorthern,Central andSouthwestern branch. Others, in particular William J. Gedney and A.-G. Haudricourt, view the Central and Southwestern branch assingle group. In the tripartite division, Thai falls into the Southwestern branch.

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