Northern Thai language

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Northern Thai
Lanna-khammeuang.png Kam Mueang
ᨣᩴᩤᨾᩮᩥᩬᨦ
Pronunciation [kam˧ mɯːəŋ˧],  ( )
Region Northern Thailand
Ethnicity Northern Thai people
Native speakers
unknown (6 million cited 1983)[1]
Tai–Kadai
Tai Tham script (Standard),
Central Thai script (De facto since early 20th century)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 nod
Glottolog nort2740[2]

Northern Thai (Thai: ภาษาถิ่นพายัพ; RTGS: Phasa Thin Phayap), Lanna (Thai: ล้านนา), or Kham Mueang (Northern Thai: ᨣᩴᩤᨾᩮᩥᩬᨦ [kam˧.mɯːəŋ˧],  ( ), Thai: คำเมือง  [kʰam˧ mɯːəŋ˧]) is the language of the Khon Mueang people of Lanna, Thailand. It is a Tai language, closely related to Thai and Lao. Northern Thai has approximately six million speakers, most of whom live in Thailand, with a few thousand in northwestern Laos.

Speakers of this language generally consider the name "Thai Yuan" to be pejorative. They generally call themselves khon mueang (ฅนเมือง,  [xon˧ mɯːəŋ˧]), Lannathai, or Northern Thai. The language is generally known by one of these terms, or as Phayap.

The term Yuan is still sometimes used for Northern Thai's distinctive Tai Tham script, which is closely related to the old Tai Lue Script and the Lao religious alphabets. The use of the tua mueang, as the traditional alphabet is known, is now largely limited to Buddhist temples, where many old sermon manuscripts are still in active use. There is no active production of literature in the traditional alphabet. The modern spoken form is called Kammuang. There is a resurgence of interest in writing it in the traditional way, but the modern pronunciation differs from that prescribed in spelling rules.[3]

Most linguists consider Northern Thai to be more closely related to Thai and the other Chiang Saeng languages than to Lao and the Lao–Phutai languages, but the distinction is never easy to make, as the languages form a continuum with few sharp dividing lines.

Names[edit]

The Northern Thai language has various names in Northern Thai, Thai, and other Tai languages.

  • In Northern Thai, it is commonly called kam mueang (ᨣᩴᩤᨾᩮᩥ᩠ᩋᨦ, กำเมือง /kām.mɯ̄aŋ/, literally "the city language"; cf. Standard Thai: คำเมือง /kʰām.mɯ̄aŋ/), or phasa lanna (ᨽᩣᩇᩣᩃ᩶ᩣ᩠ᨶᨶᩣ, ภาษาล้านนา /pʰāː.sǎː.láːn.nāː/, literally "the language of Lanna").
  • In Standard Thai, Northern Thai is known as phasa thin phayap (ภาษาถิ่นพายัพ /pʰāː.sǎː.tʰìn.pʰāː.jáp/, literally "the language of the northern region"), or phasa thai thin nuea (ภาษาไทยถิ่นเหนือ /pʰāː.sǎː.tʰāj.tʰìn.nɯ̌a/, literally "the Thai language of the northern region", or colloquially it is known as phasa nuea (ภาษาเหนือ /pʰāː.sǎː.nɯ̌a/, literally "the northern language").
  • In Lao, it is known as phasa nyuan or phasa nyon (ພາສາຍວນ or ພາສາໂຍນ respectively, /pʰáː.sǎː.ɲúan/ or /pʰáː.sǎː.ɲóːn/ respectively, literally "the Tai Yuan language").
  • In Tai Lü, it is known as kam yon (ᦅᧄᦍᦷᧃ kâm.jôn, literally "the Tai Yuan language").
  • In Shan it is known as kwam yon (ၵႂၢမ်းယူၼ်း kwáːm.jón, literally "the Tai Yuan language").

Script[edit]

Northern Thai in its own alphabet, the Tai Tham script

Currently, different scripts are used to write Northern Thai. Northern Thai is traditionally written with the Tai Tham script, which in Northern Thai is called tua mueang (ᨲᩫ᩠ᩅᨾᩮᩥ᩠ᩋᨦ ตั๋วเมือง /tǔa.mɯ̄aŋ/) or tua tham (ᨲᩫ᩠ᩅᨵᩢᨾ᩠ᨾ᩼ ตั๋วธัมม์ /tǔa.tʰām/). However, native speakers are presently illiterate in the traditional script; therefore, they instead use the Thai script to write the language. In Laos, the Lao script is commonly used to write Northern Thai.

A sign written in Northern Thai, Thai, and English

Some problems arise when the Thai script is used to write Northern Thai. In particular, Standard Thai script cannot transcribe all Northern Thai tones. The two falling tones in Northern Thai correspond to a single falling tone in Thai. Specifically, Northern Thai has two types of falling tones: high-falling tone (˥˧) and falling tone (˥˩). However, Thai lacks the distinction between the two falling tones; it lacks a high-falling tone (˥˧). Hence, when using Thai script is write Northern Thai tones, the distinction of the two falling tones is lost because Thai script can only be used to write one falling tone which is (˥˩). For example, the tonal distinction between /ka᷇ː/ (ก้า (ᨠ ᩖ᩶ᩣ กล้า) "to be brave") and /kâː/ (ก้า (ᨣ᩵ᩤ ค่า) "value") is lost when it is written in Thai since in this spelling only /kâː/ (ก้า) is permitted. Consequently, the meaning of ก้า is ambiguous as it can mean both "to be brave" and "value". Similarly, /pa᷇ːj/ (ป้าย (ᨸ᩶ᩣᩭ ป้าย) "sign") and /pâːj/ (ป้าย (ᨻ᩵ᩣᩭ พ่าย) "to lose") run into the same problem in that only /pâːj/ (ป้าย) is permitted. As a result, the spelling ป้าย is ambiguous because it can mean both "sign" or "to lose". Such tonal mergence ambiguity does not occur if the language is written with the Northern Thai script.

Phonology[edit]

Consonants[edit]

Initial consonants[edit]

Northern Thai consonant inventory is similar to that of Lao; both languages have the [ɲ] sound and lack [tɕʰ].

  Bilabial Labio-
dental
Alveolar Alveolo-
palatal
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal   [m]
ᨾ,ᩉ᩠ᨾ
    [n]
ᨶ,ᨱ,ᩉ᩠ᨶ
  [ɲ]
ᨿ,ᨬ,ᩉᩭ
  [ŋ]
ᨦ,ᩉ᩠ᨦ
 
Plosive [p]
ᨸ,ᨻ
[pʰ]
ᨽ,ᨷ
[b]
  [t]
ᨲ,ᨴ,ᨭ
[tʰ]
ᨳ,ᨮ,ᨵ,ᨰ
[d]
    [k]
ᨠ,ᨣ
([kʰ])**   [ʔ]*
Fricative   [f]
ᨺ,ᨼ
[s]
ᩈ,ᩇ,ᩆ,ᨨ,ᨪ,ᨫ
      [x]
ᨡ,ᨤ,ᨥ,ᨠ,ᨣ
  [h]
ᩉ,ᩁ,ᩌ
Affricate       [t͡ɕ]
ᨧ,ᨩ
([t͡ɕʰ])**      
Approximant   [w]
ᩅ,ᩉ᩠ᩅ
    [j]
   
Lateral
approximant
      [l]
ᩃ,ᩁ,ᩉ᩠ᩁ,ᩊ
       
* Implied before any vowel without an initial and after a short vowel without a final.
** /kʰ/ and /t͡ɕʰ/ occur in loanwords from Standard Thai.

Initial consonant clusters[edit]

  • /kw/
  • /xw/

Final consonants[edit]

All plosive sounds are unreleased. Hence, final /p/, /t/, and /k/ sounds are pronounced as [p̚], [t̚], and [k̚] respectively.

  Bilabial Labio-
dental
Alveolar Alveolo-
palatal
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal   [m]     [n]       [ŋ]  
Plosive [p]       [t]         [k]     [ʔ]*
Approximant   [w]     [j]    
* The glottal stop appears at the end when no final follows a short vowel.

Vowels[edit]

The basic vowels of the Northern Thai language are similar to those of Standard Thai. They, from front to back and close to open, are given in the following table. The top entry in every cell is the symbol from the International Phonetic Alphabet, the second entry gives the spelling in the Thai alphabet, where a dash (–) indicates the position of the initial consonant after which the vowel is pronounced. A second dash indicates that a final consonant must follow.

  Front Back
unrounded unrounded rounded
short long short long short long
Close /i/
 -ิ 
/iː/
 -ี 
/ɯ/
 -ึ 
/ɯː/
 -ื- 
/u/
 -ุ 
/uː/
 -ู 
Close-mid /e/
เ-ะ
/eː/
เ-
/ɤ/
เ-อะ
/ɤː/
เ-อ
/o/
โ-ะ
/oː/
โ-
Open-mid /ɛ/
แ-ะ
/ɛː/
แ-
    /ɔ/
เ-าะ
/ɔː/
-อ
Open     /a/
-ะ, -ั-
/aː/
-า
   

The vowels each exist in long-short pairs: these are distinct phonemes forming unrelated words in Northern Thai,[4] but usually transliterated the same: เขา (khao) means "they/them", while ขาว (khao) means "white".

The long-short pairs are as follows:

Long Short
Thai IPA Example Thai IPA Example
–า /aː/ ฝาน /fǎːn/ 'to slice' –ะ /a/ ฝัน /fǎn/ 'to dream'
–ี  /iː/ ตี๋ /tǐː/ 'to cut' –ิ  /i/ ติ๊ /tíʔ/ 'to criticize'
–ู  /uː/ สูด /sùːt/ 'to inhale' –ุ  /u/ สุ๊ด /sút/ 'rearmost'
เ– /eː/ เอน /ʔēːn/ 'to recline' เ–ะ /e/ เอ็น /ʔēn/ 'tendon, ligament'
แ– /ɛː/ แก่ /kɛ̀ː/ 'to be old' แ–ะ /ɛ/ แก๊ะ /kɛ́ʔ/ 'sheep'
–ื-  /ɯː/ ฅืน /xɯ̄ːn/ 'to return' –ึ  /ɯ/ ขึ้น /xɯ᷇n/ 'to go up'
เ–อ /ɤː/ เมิน /mɤː̄n/ 'to delay; long time' เ–อะ /ɤ/ เงิน /ŋɤ̄n/ 'silver'
โ– /oː/ โจ๋ร /t͡ɕǒːn/ 'thief' โ–ะ /o/ จ๋น /t͡ɕǒn/ 'to be poor'
–อ /ɔː/ ลอง /lɔ̄ːŋ/ 'to try' เ–าะ /ɔ/ ล่อง /lɔ̂ŋ/ 'to go down, to go downhill'

The basic vowels can be combined into diphthongs. For purposes of determining tone, those marked with an asterisk are sometimes classified as long:

Long Short
Thai script IPA Thai script IPA
–าย /aːj/ ไ–*, ใ–*, ไ–ย, -ัย /aj/
–าว /aːw/ เ–า* /aw/
เ–ีย /iːa/ เ–ียะ /ia/
–ิว /iw/
–ัว /uːa/ –ัวะ /ua/
–ูย /uːj/ –ุย /uj/
เ–ว /eːw/ เ–็ว /ew/
แ–ว /ɛːw/
เ–ือ /ɯːa/ เ–ือะ /ɯa/
เ–ย /ɤːj/
–อย /ɔːj/
โ–ย /oːj/

Additionally, there are three triphthongs, all of which are long:

Thai script IPA
เ–ียว /iaw/
–วย /uaj/
เ–ือย /ɯaj/

Allophones[edit]

The following section largely concerns the Nan dialect of Northern Thai.[5]

Phoneme Allophone Context Example using Thai script IPA Gloss
/b/ [b] onset บ่า /bàː/ shoulder
/d/ [d] onset ดอย /dɔ̄ːj/ mountain
/p/ [p] onset ป่า /pàː/ forest
[p̚] coda อาบ /ʔàːp/ bath
[pm̩] coda, emphasised บ่หลับ /bɔ̀ lǎp/ not sleep!
/t/ [t] onset ตา /tǎː/ eye
[t̚] coda เปิด /pɤ̀ːt/ open
[tn̩] coda, emphasised บ่เผ็ด /bɔ̀ pʰět/ not spicy!
/k/ [k] onset กา /kǎː/ crow
[k̚] coda ปีก /pìːk/ wing
[kŋ̩] coda, emphasised บ่สุก /bɔ̀ sǔk/ not ripe!
/x/ [x] before non-front vowels แขก /xɛ̀ːk/ guest
[ç] before front vowels ฅิง /xīŋ/ you(familiar)
/s/ [s] onset ซาว /sāːw/ twenty
[ɕ] under emphasis สาทุ /sǎː.túʔ/ surely
/h/ [h] non-intervocalic ห้า /ha᷇ː/ five
[ɦ] intervocalic ใผมาหา /pʰǎj māː hǎː/ who come find(Who is here to see you?)
/nɯ̂ŋ/ [m̩] after bilabial stop ฅืบนึ่ง /xɯ̂ːp nɯ̂ŋ/ span one(one more span)
[n̩] after alveolar stop แถมขวดนึ่ง /tʰɛ̌m xùat nɯ̂ŋ/ more bottle one(one more bottle)
[ŋ̩] after velar stop แถมดอกนึ่ง /tʰɛ̌m dɔ̀ːk nɯ̂ŋ/ more flower one(one more flower)

Tones[edit]







The six phonemic tones in Northern Thai pronounced with the syllable '/law/':

There are six phonemic tones in the Chiangmai dialect of Northern Thai: low-rising, mid-low, high-falling, mid-high, falling, and high rising-falling.[6]

Contrastive tones in unchecked syllables[edit]

The table below presents six phonemic tones in unchecked syllables, i.e. closed syllables ending in sonorant sounds such as [m], [n], [ŋ], [w], and [j] and open syllables.

Tone Example
(Northern Thai script)
Example
(Thai script)
Phonemic Phonetic Tone letter gloss
low-rising ᩉᩮᩖᩢᩣ เหลา /lǎw/ [law˨˦] 24 sharpen
mid-low ᩉᩮᩖᩢ᩵ᩣ เหล่า /làw/ [law˨] 22 forest; group
high-falling (glottalized) ᩉᩮᩖᩢ᩶ᩣ เหล้า /la᷇w/ [la̰w˥˧] 53 liquor, alcoholic drink
mid-high ᩃᩮᩢᩣ เลา /lāw/ [law˧] 33 beautiful, pretty; reed
falling ᩃᩮᩢ᩵ᩣ เล่า /lâw/ [law˥˩] 51 tell (a story)
high rising-falling (glottalized) ᩃᩮᩢ᩶ᩣ เล้า /láw/ [la̰w˦˥˦] 454 coop, pen (for chickens or pigs)

Contrastive tones in checked syllables[edit]

The table below presents four phonemic tones in checked syllables, i.e. closed syllables ending in a glottal stop [ʔ] and obstruent sounds such as [p], [t], and [k].

Tone Example
(Northern Thai script)
Example
(Thai script)
Phonemic Phonetic gloss
high ᩉᩖᩢᨠ หลัก /lák/ [lak̚˦˥] post
high-falling ᩃᩢ᩠ᨠ ลัก /la᷇k/ [lak̚˥] steal
low ᩉᩖᩣ᩠ᨠ หลาก /làːk/ [laːk̚˨] differ from others
falling ᩃᩣ᩠ᨠ ลาก /lâːk/ [laːk̚˥˩] drag

Grammar[edit]

The grammar of Northern Thai is similar to those of other Tai languages. The word order is subject–verb–object, although the subject is often omitted. Just as Standard Thai, Northern Thai pronouns are selected according to the gender and relative status of speaker and audience.

Adjectives and adverbs[edit]

There is no morphological distinction between adverbs and adjectives. Many words can be used in either function. They succeed the word which they modify, which may be a noun, verb, or another adjective or adverb.

  • แม่ญิงเฒ่า (mae nying thao, /mɛ̂ː.ɲīŋ.tʰa᷇w/) an old woman
  • แม่ญิงตี้เฒ่าโวย (mae nying ti thao woi, /mɛ̂ː.ɲīŋ.tîː.tʰa᷇w.wōːj/) a woman who became old quickly

Because adjectives can be used as complete predicates, many words used to indicate tense in verbs (see Verbs:Aspect below) may be used to describe adjectives.

  • ข้าหิว (kha hiw, [xa᷇ː hǐw]) I am hungry.
  • ข้าจะหิว (kha cha hiw, [xa᷇ː t͡ɕa hǐw]) I will be hungry.
  • ข้ากะลังหิว (kha kalang hiw, [xa᷇ː ka.lāŋ hǐw]) I am hungry right now.
  • ข้าหิวแล้ว (kha hiu laew, [xa᷇ː hǐw lɛ́ːw]) I am already hungry.

Verbs[edit]

Verbs do not inflect. They do not change with person, tense, voice, mood, or number; nor are there any participles.

  • ข้าตี๋เปิ้น (kha ti poen, [xa᷇ː tǐː pɤ̂n]), I hit him.
  • เปิ้นตี๋ข้า (poen ti kha, [pɤ̂n tǐː xa᷇ː]), He hit me.

The passive voice is indicated by the insertion of โดน (don, [dōːn]) before the verb. For example:

  • เปิ้นโดนตี๋ (poen don ti, [pɤ̂n dōːn tǐː]), He is hit or He got hit. This describes an action that is out of the receiver's control and, thus, conveys suffering.

To convey the opposite sense, a sense of having an opportunity arrive, ได้ (dai, [da᷇j], can) is used. For example:

  • เปิ้นจะได้ไปแอ่วเมืองลาว (poen cha dai pai aew mueang lao, [pɤ̂n t͡ɕa da᷇j pāj ʔɛ̀w mɯ̄aŋ lāːw]), He gets to visit Laos.
  • เปิ้นตี๋ได้ (poen ti dai, [pɤ̂n tǐː da᷇j]), He is/was allowed to hit or He is/was able to hit

Negation is indicated by placing บ่ (bor,[bɔ̀] or [bà] not) before the verb.

  • เปิ้นบ่ตี๋, (poen bor ti, [pɤ̂n bɔ̀ tǐː]) He is not hitting. or He not hit.

Aspect is conveyed by aspect markers before or after the verb.

Present can be indicated by กะลัง (kalang, [ka.lāŋ], currently) or กะลังหะ (kalangha, [ka.lāŋ.hà], currently) before the verb for ongoing action (like English -ing form), by อยู่ (yu, [jùː]) after the verb, or by both. For example:
  • เปิ้นกะลังหะล่น (poen kalangha lon, [pɤ̂n ka.lāŋ.hà lôn]), or
  • เปิ้นล่นอยู่ (poen lon yu, [pɤ̂n lôn jùː]), or
  • เปิ้นกะลังหะล่นอยู่ (poen kalanɡha lon yu, [pɤ̂n ka.lāŋ.hà lôn jùː]), He is running.
Future can be indicated by จะ (cha, [t͡ɕaʔ], will) before the verb or by a time expression indicating the future. For example:
  • เปิ้นจะล่น (poen cha lon, [pɤ̂n t͡ɕaʔ lôn]), He will run or He is going to run.
Past can be indicated by ได้ (dai, [da᷇j]) before the verb or by a time expression indicating the past. However, แล้ว (laew,  :[lɛ́ːw], already) is often used to indicate the past aspect by being placed behind the verb. Or, both ได้ and แล้ว are put together to form the past aspect expression. For example:
  • เปิ้นได้กิ๋น (poen dai kin, [pɤ̂n da᷇j kǐn]), He ate.
  • เปิ้นกิ๋นแล้ว (poen kin laew, [pɤ̂n kǐn lɛ́ːw], He has eaten.
  • เปิ้นได้กิ๋นแล้ว (poen dai kin laew, [pɤ̂n da᷇j kǐn lɛ́ːw]), He's already eaten.

Aspect markers are not required.

  • ข้ากิ๋นตี้หั้น (kha kin tihan, [xa᷇ kǐn tîː.ha᷇n]), I eat there.
  • ข้ากิ๋นตี้หั้นตะวา (kha kin tihan tawa, [xa᷇ kǐn tîː.ha᷇n ta.wāː]), I ate there yesterday.
  • ข้ากิ๋นตี้หั้นวันพูก (kha kin tihan wanphuk, [xa᷇ kǐn tîː.ha᷇n wān.pʰûːk]), I'll eat there tomorrow.

Words that indicate obligation include at cha (อาจจะ), na cha (น่าจะ), khuan cha (ควรจะ), and tong (ต้อง).

  • at cha (อาจจะ, /ʔàːt.t͡ɕa/) Might
  • เปิ้นอาจจะมา (poen at cha ma, /pɤ̂n ʔàːt.t͡ɕa māː/) He might come.
  • na cha (น่าจะ, /na᷇ː.t͡ɕa/) Likely to
  • เปิ้นน่าจะมา (poen na cha ma, /pɤ̂n na᷇ː.t͡ɕa māː/) He is likely to come.
  • khuan cha (ควรจะ, /xūan.t͡ɕa/) Should
  • เปิ้นควรจะมา (poen khuan cha ma, /pɤ̂n xūan.t͡ɕa māː/) He should come.
  • tong (ต้อง, /tɔ᷇ːŋ/) Must
  • เปิ้นต้องมา (poen tong ma, /pɤ̂n tɔ᷇ːŋ māː/) He must come.

Actions that wherein one is busily engaged can be indicated by มัวก่า (mua ka, /mūa.kàː/).

  • ก่อมัวก่ากิ๋นหั้นเนาะ (kor mua ka kin han nor, /kɔ̀ mūa kàː kǐn ha᷇n nɔ᷇ʔ/) (It's that you/he/she) just keeps on eating it like that, you know?

Words that express one's desire to do something can by indicated by khai (ใค่) and kan (กั๊น).

  • khai (ใค่, /xâj/, to want, to desire)
  • ข้าเจ้าใค่กิ๋น (kha.chao khai kin, /xa᷇ː.t͡ɕa᷇w xâj kǐn/) I want to eat.
  • kan (กั๊น, /kán/, to try)
  • ข้าเจ้ากั๊นกิ๋น (kha.chao kan kin, /xa᷇ː.t͡ɕa᷇w kán kǐn/) I try to eat.

Phor tha wa (ผ่อท่าว่า, /pʰɔ̀ː.tʰâː.wâː/) is used to give the impression or sensation of being something or having a particular quality.

  • ผ่อท่าว่าเปิ้นปิ๊กมาแล้ว (phor tha wa poen pik ma laew, /pʰɔ̀ː tʰâː wâː pɤ̂n pi᷇k māː lɛ́ːw/) It seems that he has returned.

Final particles[edit]

Northern Thai has a number a final particles which have different functions.

Interrogative particles[edit]

Some of the most common interrogative particles are kor (ก่อ, /kɔ̀ː/) and ka (กา, /kāː/)

  • kor (ก่อ, /kɔ̀ː/, denoting yes/no question)
  • ม่วนก่อ (muan kor, /mûan kɔ̀ː/) Is it fun?
  • ka (กา (and its variants: ก๋า, กา), /kāː/, denoting confirmative question)
  • ม่วนกา (muan ka, /mûan kāː/) It is fun, right?

Imperative particles[edit]

Some imperative particles are แล่, จิ่ม, and เตอะ. lae (แล่, /lɛ̂ː/)

  • กิ๋นแล่ (kin lae, /kǐn lɛ̂ː/) Eat! (Authoritative).

chim (จิ่ม, /t͡ɕìm/)

  • ขอกิ๋นจิ่ม (khor kin chim, /xɔ̌ː kǐn t͡ɕìm/) May I eat please?

hia (เหีย, /hǐa/)

  • กิ๋นเหีย (kin hia, /kǐn hǐa/) Eat! (because I know it will be beneficial to you).

toe (เตอะ, /tɤ᷇ʔ/)

  • กิ๋นเตอะ (kin toe, /kǐn tɤ᷇ʔ/) Eat, please.

Polite particles[edit]

Polite particles include คับ and เจ้า.

  • khap (คับ, /xa᷇p/, used by males)
  • กิ๋นเข้าแล้วคับ (kin khaw laew khap, /kǐn xa᷇w lɛ́ːw xa᷇p/) I have eaten, sir/ma'am.
  • chao (เจ้า, /t͡ɕa᷇w/, used by females)
  • กิ๋นเข้าแล้วเจ้า (kin khaw laew chao, /kǐn xa᷇w lɛ́ːw t͡ɕa᷇w/) I have eaten, sir/ma'am.

Nouns[edit]

Nouns are uninflected and have no gender; there are no articles.

Nouns are neither singular nor plural. Some specific nouns are reduplicated to form collectives: ละอ่อน (la-orn, [la.ʔɔ̀ːn], child) is often repeated as ละอ่อนๆ (la-orn la-orn, [la.ʔɔ̀ːn la.ʔɔ̀ːn],) to refer to a group of children.

The word หมู่(mu, [mùː]) may be used as a prefix of a noun or pronoun as a collective to pluralize or emphasise the following word. (หมู่ผม, mu phom, [mùː pʰǒm], we (exclusive), masculine; หมู่เฮา mu hao, [mùː hāw], emphasised we; หมู่หมา mu ma, [mùː mǎː], (the) dogs).

Plurals are expressed by adding classifiers, used as measure words (ลักษณนาม), in the form of noun-number-classifier (คูห้าคน, "teacher five person" for "five teachers").

Pronouns[edit]

Pronouns may be omitted once they have already been established in the first sentence, unless the pronoun in the following sentences is different from the first sentence. The pronoun "you" may also be omitted if the speaker is speaking directly to a second person. Moreover, names may replace pronouns, and they can even replace the first person singular pronoun.

Person Tai Tham script Thai script Transliteration Phonemic (IPA) Phonetic (IPA) Meaning
first ᨣᩪ กู kūu /kūː/ [kuː˧] I/me (familiar; informal)
ᩁᩣ ฮา hāa /hāː/ [haː˧] I/me (familiar; informal)
ᨡ᩶ᩣ ข้า kha᷇a /xa᷇ː/ [xaː˥˧] I/me (formal; used by male). Literally "servant, slave".
ᨹᩪ᩶ᨡ᩶ᩣ ผู้ข้า pʰu᷇u kha᷇a /pʰu᷇ː.xa᷇ː/ [pʰuː˥˧.xaː˥˧] I/me (formal)
ᨡ᩶ᩣᨧᩮᩢ᩶ᩣ ข้าเจ้า kha᷇a cha᷇o /xa᷇ː.t͡ɕa᷇w/ [xaː˥˧.t͡ɕaw˥˧] I/me (formal; used by female)
ᩁᩮᩢᩣ เฮา hāo /hāw/ [haw˧] we/us
ᨲᩪ ตู๋ tǔu /tǔː/ [tuː˨˦] we/us (exclusive)
second ᨾᩧ᩠ᨦ มึง mūenɡ /mɯ̄ŋ/ [mɯŋ˧] you (informal, singular)
ᨤᩥ᩠ᨦ ฅิง khīng /xīŋ/ [xiŋ˧] you (informal, singular)
ᨲᩫ᩠ᩅ ตั๋ว tǔa /tǔa/ [tua˨˦] you (familiar, singular)
ᨧᩮᩢ᩶ᩣ เจ้า cha᷇o /t͡ɕa᷇w/ [t͡ɕaw˥˧] you (formal, singular). Literally "master, lord"
ᩈᩪ สู sǔu /sǔː/ [suː˨˦] you (informal, plural or formal, singular)
ᩈᩪᨡᩮᩢᩣ สูเขา sǔu khǎo /sǔː.xǎw/ [suː˨˦.xaw˨˦] you (informal, plural)
ᩈᩪᨧᩮᩢ᩶ᩣ สูเจ้า sǔu cha᷇o /sǔː.t͡ɕa᷇w/ [suː˨˦.t͡ɕaw˥˧] you (formal, plural)
third ᨾᩢ᩠ᨶ มัน mān /mān/ [man˧] he/she/it (informal)
ᨡᩮᩢᩣ เขา khǎo /xǎw/ [xaw˨˦] they/them
ᨻᩮᩥ᩠᩵ᨶ เปิ้น pôen /pɤ̂n/ [pɤn˥˩] he/she (general), others
ᨴ᩵ᩤ᩠ᨶ ต้าน tâan /tâːn/ [taːn˥˩] he/she (formal), you (formal), others
reflexive ᨲᩫ᩠ᩅᨠᩮᩢ᩵ᩣ ตั๋วเก่า tǔa kàw /tǔa.kàw/ [tua˨˦.kaw˨]

Vocabulary[edit]

Northern Thai shares much vocabulary with Standard Thai, especially scientific terms, which draw many prefixes and suffixes from Sanskrit and Pali, and it also has its own distinctive words. Just like Thai and Lao, Northern Thai has borrowed many loanwords from Khmer, Sanskrit, and Pali.

word gloss origin
/xɔ̌ːŋ.kǐn/
ᨡᩬᨦᨠᩥ᩠ᨦ
ของกิ๋น
food native Tai word
/ʔāː.hǎːn/
ᩋᩣᩉᩣ᩠ᩁ
อาหาร
food Pali and/or Sanskrit
/kàm.nɤ̀ːt/
ᨠᩴ᩵ᩣᨶᩮᩥ᩠ᨯ
ก่ำเนิด (กำเนิด)
born Khmer

Northern Thai and Standard Thai[edit]

The tables below present the differences between Northern Thai and Standard Thai.

Different sounds[edit]

Unlike Northern Thai, Standard Thai lacks palatal nasal sound (/ɲ/). Thus, the palatal nasal sound (/ɲ/) and the palatal approximant sound (/j/) in Northern Thai both correspond to the palatal approximant sound in Standard Thai:

Standard Thai Northern Thai gloss note
/jâːk/
ยาก
/ɲâːk/
ᨿᩣ᩠ᨠ
difficult cf. Lao: ຍາກ /ɲâːk/
/jūŋ/
ยุง
/ɲūŋ/
ᨿᩩᨦ
mosquito cf. Lao: ຍຸງ /ɲúŋ/
/jāːw/
ยาว
/ɲāːw/
ᨿᩣ᩠ᩅ
long cf. Lao: ຍາວ /ɲáːw/
/jāː/
ยา
/jāː/
ᩀᩣ
(อยา)
medicine cf. Lao: ຢາ /jàː/
/jàːk/
อยาก
/jàːk/
ᩀᩣ᩠ᨠ
desire cf. Lao: ຢາກ /ja᷅ːk/
/jàːŋ/
อย่าง
/jàːŋ/
ᩀ᩵ᩣ᩠ᨦ
manner, way cf. Lao: ຢ່າງ /jāːŋ/

Unlike Northern Thai, Standard Thai lacks a high-falling tone ([˥˧]). The high falling tone ([˥˧]) and falling tone ([˥˩]) in Northern Thai both correspond to the falling tone in Standard Thai ([˥˩]).

Standard Thai Northern Thai gloss
/bâːn/
บ้าน
/ba᷇ːn/
ᨷ᩶ᩣ᩠ᨶ
village, home
/hâː/
ห้า
/ha᷇ː/
ᩉ᩶ᩣ
five
/t͡ɕâw/
เจ้า
/t͡ɕa᷇w/
ᨧᩮᩢ᩶ᩣ
master, lord, you
/lâw/
เหล้า
/la᷇w/
ᩉᩖᩮᩢ᩶ᩣ
alcohol
/lâw/
เล่า
/lâw/
ᩃᩮᩢ᩵ᩣ
tell (a story)

Different words[edit]

Many words differ from Standard Thai greatly:

Standard Thai Northern Thai gloss note
/jîː.sìp/
ยี่สิบ
/sāːw/
ᨪᩣ᩠ᩅ
ซาว
twenty cf. Lao: ຊາວ /sáːw/ "twenty" and Shan: သၢဝ်း /sáːw/ "twenty"
/pʰûːt/
พูด
/ʔu᷇ː/
ᩋᩪ᩶
อู้
speak
/pʰîː.tɕʰaːj/
พี่ชาย
/ʔa᷇ːj/
ᩋ᩶ᩣᩭ
อ้าย
older brother cf. Lao: ອ້າຍ /ʔâːj/ "older brother" and Shan: ဢၢႆႈ /ʔāːj/ "eldest brother, first born son"
/tʰáːj.tʰɔ̄ːj/
ท้ายทอย
/ŋɔ̂n/
ᨦ᩵ᩬᩁ
ง่อน
nape cf. Lao: ງ່ອນ /ŋɔ̄ɔn/ "nape"
/t͡ɕa.mùːk/
จมูก
/dāŋ/
ᨯᩢ᩠ᨦ
ดัง
nose cf. Lao: ດັງ /dàŋ/ "nose", Standard Thai: ดั้ง /dâŋ/ "nasal bridge".
/hâj/
ให้
/hɯ᷇ː/
ᩉᩨ᩶ᩬ
หื้อ
give, let cf. Tai Lü: ᦠᦹᧉ /hɯ᷄/ "to give, to allow"
/tʰām/
ทำ
/ɲa᷇ʔ/
ᨿᩡ
ญะ
do
/dūː/
ดู
/pʰɔ̀ː/
ᨹᩴ᩵ᩬ
ผ่อ
look cf. Tai Lü: ᦕᦸᧈ /pʰɔ̀ː/ "to see, to look"
/tʰîaw/
เที่ยว
/ʔɛ̀ːw/
ᩋᩯ᩠᩵ᩅ
แอ่ว
visit, travel cf. Tai Lü: ᦀᦶᧁᧈ /ʔɛ᷄w/ "to visit, to travel"
/nɯ́a/
เนื้อ
/t͡ɕín/
ᨩᩥ᩠᩶ᨶ
จิ๊น
meat cf. Lao: ຊີ້ນ /sîːn/ "meat"
/mâj/
ไม่
/bɔ̀ː/
ᨷᩴ᩵
บ่อ
no cf. Lao: ບໍ່ /bɔ̄ː/ "no, not"
อร่อย ลำ tasty, delicious
/t͡ɕʰɔ̂ːp/
ชอบ
/ma᷇k/
ᨾᩢ᩠ᨠ
มัก
like cf. Lao: ມັກ /māk/ "to like"
/mâːk/
มาก
/na᷇k/
ᨶᩢ᩠ᨠ
นัก
much, many
/dɤ̄ːn/
เดิน
/tīaw/
ᨴᩭᩅ
เตียว
walk cf. Tai Lü: ᦑᦵᧁ /têw/ "to give, to allow"
/wîŋ/
วิ่ง
/lôn/
ᩃᩫ᩠᩵ᨶ
ล่น
run
/hǔa.rɔ́ʔ/
หัวเราะ
/xâj.hǔa/
ใค่หัว
laugh cf. Tai Lü: ᦆᦺᧈᦠᦷ /xāj.hó/ "to laugh"
/sa.nùk/
สนุก
/mûan/
ม่วน
funny, amusing cf. Lao: ມ່ວນ /mūan/ "fun, amusing, pleasant", Tai Lü: ᦙᦷᦓᧈ /mōn/ "fun, amusing, pleasant", Shan: မူၼ်ႈ /mōn/ "fun, amusing, pleasant"
/kōː.hòk/
โกหก
/t͡ɕúʔ/
จุ๊
lie cf. Tai Lü: ᦈᦳ /t͡su᷄ʔ/ "to lie, to deceive"
/ʔa.rāj/
อะไร
/ʔa.ɲǎŋ/
อะหญัง
what cf. Lao: ອີ່ຫຍັງ /ʔī.ɲǎŋ/ "what"
/dèk/
เด็ก
/la.ʔɔ̀ːn/
ᩃᩡᩋ᩵ᩬᩁ
ละอ่อน
child cf. Tai Lü: ᦟᦳᧅᦀᦸᧃᧈ /lūk.ʔɔ᷄n/ "child, young offspring"
/pʰráʔ/
พระ
/tu᷇.t͡ɕa᷇w/
ᨴᩩᨧᩮᩢ᩶ᩣ
ตุ๊เจ้า
Buddhist monk cf. Tai Lü: ᦑᦳᦈᧁᧉ /tūʔ.tsa᷅w/ "Buddhist monk"

Similar words[edit]

Some words differ only in tone:

Standard Thai Northern Thai gloss
/nɯ̀ŋ/
หนึ่ง
/nɯ̂ŋ/
ᨶᩧ᩠᩵ᨦ
นึ่ง
one
/hòk/
หก
/hók/
ᩉᩫ᩠ᨠ
ฮก
six
/t͡ɕèt/
เจ็ด
/t͡ɕét/
ᨧᩮᩢ᩠ᨯ
เจ๊ด
seven
/sìp/
สิบ
/síp/
ᩈᩥ᩠ᨷ
ซิบ
ten
/pēn/
เป็น
/pěn/
ᨸᩮ᩠ᨶ
เป๋น
be
/kīn/
กิน
/kǐn/
ᨠᩥ᩠ᨶ
กิ๋น
eat

Some words differ in a single sound and associated tone. In many words, the initial ร (/r/) in Standard Thai corresponds to ฮ (/h/) in Northern Thai:

Standard Thai Northern Thai gloss note
/rɔ́ːn/
ร้อน
/hɔ́ːn/
ᩁ᩶ᩬᩁ
ฮ้อน
hot cf. Lao: ຮ້ອນ /hɔ̂ːn/ "to be hot" and Shan: ႁွၼ်ႉ /hɔ̰n/ "to be hot"
/rák/
รัก
/ha᷇k/
ᩁᩢ᩠ᨠ
ฮัก
love cf. Lao: ຮັກ /hāk/ "to love" and Shan: ႁၵ်ႉ /ha̰k/ "to love"
/rúː/
รู้
/húː/
ᩁᩪ᩶
ฮู้
know cf. Lao: ຮູ້ /hûː/ "know" and Shan: ႁူ /hṵ/ "know"

Aspiration of initial consonants[edit]

Some aspirated consonants in the low-class consonant group (อักษรต่ำ /ʔàk.sɔ̌ːn.tàm/) in Standard Thai correspond to unaspirated sounds in Northern Thai. These sounds include ค, ช, ท, and พ (/kʰ/, /t͡ɕʰ/, /tʰ/, and /pʰ/ respectively), but sounds such as ฅ, คร, ฆ, ฒ, พร, ภ (/kʰ/, /kʰr/, /kʰ/, /tʰ/, /pʰr/, and /pʰ/ respectively) remain aspirated. Such aspirated consonants that are unaspirated in Northern Thai correspond to unaspirated voiced sounds in Proto-Tai which are *ɡ, *ɟ, *d, and *b (ค, ช, ท, and พ respectively).:

Standard Thai Northern Thai gloss note
/t͡ɕʰiaŋ.rāːj/
เชียงราย
/t͡ɕiaŋ.hāːj/
ᨩᩭᨦᩁᩣᩭ
เจียงฮาย
Chiang Rai city and province cf. Tai Lü: ᦈᦵᧂᦣᦻ /tsêŋ.hâːj/ "Chiang Rai"
/kʰít/
คิด
/kɯ́t/
ᨣᩧ᩠ᨯ
กึ๊ด
think cf. Tai Lü: ᦅᦹᧆ /kɯ̄t/ "to think"
/t͡ɕʰɔ́ːn/
ช้อน
/t͡ɕɔ́ːn/
ᨩ᩶ᩬᩁ
จ๊อน
spoon cf. Tai Lü: ᦋᦸᧃᧉ /tsɔ̀n/ "spoon"
/t͡ɕʰáj/
ใช้
/t͡ɕáj/
ᨩᩲ᩶
ใจ๊
use cf. Shan: ၸႂ်ႉ /tsa̰ɰ/ "to use", Tai Lü: ᦋᦺᧉ /tsàj/ "to use"
/pʰɔ̂ː/
พ่อ
/pɔ̂ː/
ᨻᩴ᩵ᩬ
ป้อ
father cf. Shan: ပေႃႈ /pɔ̄/ "father", Tai Lü: ᦗᦸᧈ /pɔ̄/ "father"
/tʰāːŋ/
ทาง
/tāːŋ/
ᨴᩣ᩠ᨦ
ตาง
way cf. Shan: တၢင်း /táːŋ/ "way", Tai Lü: ᦑᦱᧂ /tâːŋ/ "way"

But not:

Standard Thai Northern Thai gloss note
/kʰôːt.sa.nāː/
โฆษณา
/xôːt.sa.nāː/
โฆษณา
commercial, advertisement cf. Tai Lü: ᦆᦷᦉᦓᦱ /xôː.sa.nâː/ "advertisement"
/pʰāː.sǎː/
ภาษา
/pʰāː.sǎː/
ภาษา
language cf. Tai Lü: ᦘᦱᦉᦱ /pʰâː.sáː/ "nationality"
/wát.tʰa.náʔ.tʰām/
วัฒนธรรม
/wa᷇t.tʰa.na᷇ʔ.tʰām/
วัฒนธัมม์
culture cf. Tai Lü: ᦞᧆᦒᦓᦱᦒᧄ /wāt.tʰa.na.tʰâm/ "culture"
/tʰām/
ธรรม
/tʰām/
ธัมม์
Dharma cf. Tai Lü: ᦒᧄ /tʰâm/ "Dharma"

Though a number of aspirated consonants in Standard Thai often correspond to unaspirated sounds in Northern Thai, when an unaspirated consonant is followed by ร (/r/) the unaspirated consonant becomes aspirated:

Standard Thai Northern Thai gloss note
/pràʔ.tʰêːt/
ประเทศ
/pʰa.têːt/
ᨷᩕᨴᩮ᩠ᩆ
ผะเต้ด
country cf. Tai Lü: ᦕᦑᦵᧆ /pʰa.te᷄ːt/ "country"
/kràːp/
กราบ
/xàːp/ or /kʰàːp/
ᨠᩕᩣ᩠ᨷ
ขาบ
kowtow, prostrate cf. Tai Lü: ᦃᦱᧇ /xa᷄ːp/ "to prostrate oneself"
/prāː.sàːt/
ปราสาท
/pʰǎː.sàːt/
ᨷᩕᩤᩈᩣ᩠ᨴ
ผาสาท
palace cf. Tai Lü: ᦕᦱᦉᦱᧆ /pʰáː.sa᷄ːt/ "palace"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Northern Thai at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Northern Thai". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Natnapang Burutphakdee (October 2004). Khon Muang Neu Kap Phasa Muang [Attitudes of Northern Thai Youth towards Kammuang and the Lanna Script] (PDF) (M.A. Thesis). Presented at 4th National Symposium on Graduate Research, Chiang Mai, Thailand, August 10–11, 2004. Asst. Prof. Dr. Kirk R. Person, adviser. Chiang Mai: Payap University. 3.5.6 The changing pronunciation of the Lanna script and Kammuang – digital image 82. Archived from the original on 2013-06-14. Retrieved June 8, 2013. "As with all languages, the pronunciation of the written and spoken forms changes over time. This is another problem that Kammuang speakers may have when they learn to write the Lanna script. These changes occur in only some words, and there are no readily apparent rules to explain the changes...." 
  4. ^ Tingsabadh & Abramson (1993:25)
  5. ^ Hundius, Harald. Phonologie und Schrift des Nordthai. Marburg: Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft ;, 1990. Print.
  6. ^ Gedney, William J., and Thomas J. Hudak. William J. Gedney's Tai Dialect Studies: Glossaries, Texts, and Translations. Ann Arbor, MI: Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, The University of Michigan, 1997. Print.
  • Khamjan, Mala (มาลา คำจันทร์). Kham Mueang Dictionary (พจนานุกรมคำเมือง). Chiang Mai: Bookworm, 2008. ISBN 978-974-8418-55-1.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bilmes, J. (1996). Problems And Resources In Analyzing Northern Thai Conversation For English Language Readers. Journal of Pragmatics, 26(2), 171-188.
  • Davis, R. (1970). A Northern Thai reader. Bangkok: Siam Society.
  • Filbeck, D. (1973). Pronouns in Northern Thai. Anthropological Linguistics, 15(8), 345-361.
  • Howard, K. M. (2009). “When Meeting Khun Teacher, Each Time We Should Pay Respect”: Standardizing Respect In A Northern Thai Classroom. Linguistics and Education, 20(3), 254-272.
  • Khankasikam, K. (2012). Printed Lanna character recognition by using conway's game of life. In ICDIM (pp. 104–109).
  • Pankhuenkhat, R. (1982). The Phonology of the Lanna Language:(a Northern Thai Dialect). Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development, Mahidol University.
  • Rungroengsi, U. (1990). Photchananukrom lannathai chabab maefa Luang–Dictionary of the Lanna language, Mafaluang Version.
  • Herington, Jennifer, Margaret Potter, Amy Ryan and Jennifer Simmons (2013). Sociolinguistic Survey of Northern Thai. SIL Electronic Survey Reports.
  • Strecker, D. (1979). "A preliminary typology of tone shapes and tonal sound changes in Tai: the La-n N-a A-tones", in Studies in Tai and Mon-Khmer Phonetics and Phonology In Honour of Eugénie J.A. Henderson, ed. T.L. Thongkum et al., pp. 171–240. Chulalongkorn University Press.

External links[edit]