Thai, also called Central Thai and Siamese, is both the national and official language of Thailand. It is spoken by over 20 million people as of 2000, mostly by people who are residing in Thailand. Thailand also is home to several other languages of the same Tai language group within the Tai-Kadai family, such as Isan, the language of the Isan region, and Northern and Southern Thai. Although linguists consider these to be distinct languages, native speakers consider them to only be dialect differences.
More than half of the words of the Thai language are borrowed from other languages such as Pali and Old Khmer, the language of the Cambodian people. Thai is mutually intelligible with the Lao language as well, and most literate Lao people are able to also read and understand Thai because the two languages share many similarities in vocabulary and grammar rules. The Thai vocabulary still keeps much of its original Chinese influence, with many borrowed words from the Middle Chinese.
The Thai script is believed to have been formed from the Khmer script, while the appearance is most similar to the Thai Dam script. The language is considered to be analytic, and word order is typically subject-verb-object.
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