Within Thailand, there are four major dialects, corresponding to the southern, northern (“Yuan”), northeastern (close to Lao language), and central regions of the country; the latter is called Central Thai or Bangkok Thai and is taught in all schools, is used for most television broadcasts, and is widely understood in all regions. Nowadays, English is also taught in all public schools. There are a few minor Thai dialects such as Phuan and Lue, spoken by small populations. Also within Thailand, small ethnic minority groups (including so-called “hill tribes”) account for around sixty languages which are not considered related to Thai.

The four primary dialects of Thai should not be confused with four different “languages” used by Thais in different social circumstances. For example, certain words are used only by Thai royalty, creating a royal language. There are also languages used for religious figures, polite everyday interactions, and gruff or crude communications.


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