Even though Thailand consists of various ethnic groups speaking their own languages, Thai has been regarded as the lingua franca for at least 700 years. The importance of Thai is attested by Sukhothai and Ayutthaya inscriptions found in many regions of the country. It is also made evident by a number of texts preserved until our time. However, we still have little knowledge of the historical development of Thai. This is a major obstacle for in-depth research of Thai epigraphy, literature and pre-history. Therefore, study of the Thai language from historical linguistic perspectives can bring about a better understanding of Thai society, politics and culture in the past. This talk traces the historical development of Thai tones by applying linguistic methods to historical texts, including de la Loubere’s Du Royaume de Siam, Phra Horathibodi’s Chindamani, Grammatica Linguae Thai, etc. Reconstructed tone systems of the Thai language of the 17th, the 18th, and the 20th centuries will be presented.
Speaker Information: Pittayawat (Joe) Pittayaporn (Lecturer, Department of Linguistics, Chulalongkorn University)