Thai is a
tone language of sino-tibetan origin. This means that differences
in tone make differences in meaning. The Thai language has five tones,
and if you mispronounce you do not simply say an incorrect word, you say
another word entirely! Many Thais, however, (not all, of course!) speak
some English and at least in the tourist areas of Thailand, like
Bangkok, Phuket, or Chiang Mai you can manage easily even withouto knowing
Thai (in the more remote areas, like the Northeast, or the South, you might
run into problems.) It is also always a good idea to ask the concierge
of your hotel or somebody else to write down the names of your destinations
in Thai script, and to take a business card of your hotel, and a good bilingual
map with you.
The Lanna dialect spoken in Northern Thailand differs from the Thai spoken in Bangkok and in the South.
There are various systems of transliteration, especially for Thai consonants. In thisguide, "Th" means that the sound is a soft "t", and "ph" means that the sound is a soft"p" (not "f").
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