Thai Translation Services

Whether you are looking for Thai translation for something technical, legal or medical, or simply a letter, we can help you.

Lingua Translations is well known for its quality-driven Thai translation services. We will equip you with knowledge and methods, enabling you to communicate in the correct written form of Thai, whether you need a translation for Thailand or Northern Khmer, we can help. Remember not to pick the wrong one!

We offer a professional Thai to English and English to Thai language translation service, amongst others. Here is some information which you will find useful as the Thai language is full of interesting facts and essential tips when you are looking to communicate effectively in Thai speaking countries.

Location: Southeast Asia
Population: 67 million
Language Family: Tai-Kadai
Related Languages: Languages spoken in Burma, Laos and northern Thailand
Number of Global Speakers: Around 60 million

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About Thai

Thai is the official language of Thailand and is used by about 85% of the Thai population. Thailand is the second largest economy in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the UK has strong links with Thailand as one of the leading EU investors in the country. Thailand represents excellent business opportunities for UK investors and can serve as a stepping stone into other South Asian markets. UK exports to Thailand were valued at nearly £2 billion in 2013.

Business opportunities in Thailand cover a range of sectors, including transport, agri-business, food and drink, retail and consumer goods and power and renewable energy, among others. If you want to expand into Thai markets, using professional Thai translation services from a reputable provider like Lingua Translations will give you the boost you need, facilitating communication with potential clients and business partners and appealing to Thai consumers.

A “tonal” language

Thai is a “tonal” language, which means that the meaning of the word changes depending on the pitch that is used. Thai has five tones:

mid tone, for example ไมล์ [mai] translates as “mile”
low tone, for example ใหม่ [mài] translates as “new”
high tone, for example ไม้ [mái] translates as “wood”
falling tone, for example ไม่ [mâi] translates as “not”
rising tone, for example ไหม [mǎi] translates as “silk”
Written Thai

The Thai language is written using Thai script (อักษรไทย). It has 44 consonant letters, 15 vowel symbols that make 28 vowel forms and four diacritics (accents) that indicate tones. There are so many letters that the alphabet has more than it needs, meaning that there can often be several different ways of writing the same letter! The script is read from left to right, like English, but there are no spaces between words. If there are spaces, they serve as punctuation marks, a little like commas and full stops. There is no concept of upper and lower-case letters in Thai.

Thai Dialects

There are four main dialects in modern Thailand that broadly correspond to the country’s four main regions.

Northern Thai (or Lannathai) is spoken in northThailand and is influenced by the Lao language. The way they speak makes more use of rising and falling tones. This area used to be a different country, called the Kingdom of Lanna.

Southern Thai is fast and choppy, and the locals will often reduce words to monosyllables and sentences to one or two words. This area is poorer and less of the population are formally educated, which shows in the way they speak.

Central Thai is considered to be the standard form of Thai and is spoken in the central region of Thailand, particularly Bangkok. Those who speak Central Thai are typically richer and more educated, and as such much formal written material is written in Central Thai.

Lastly, there is the northeastern region, and the Isaan dialect is spoken there. It is much more heavily influenced by Lao, to the extent that it is half Lao and half Thai. It is the dialect that is the most unintelligible to those who speak Central Thai.

Difficulties translating between Thai and English

Thai grammar is very different to (and actually simpler than) English – verbs aren’t conjugated, words aren’t pluralised, there are no genders and no subject-verb agreement. The Thai language uses other ways to reflect these distinctions, for example using noun-number-classfiers – to say “four tables”, the Thai would literally translate as “table four item”.

There are also no definite or indefinite articles – but this can cause problems translating back into English because the Thai word for “bird” could potentially be translated as “bird”, “the bird”, “the birds”, “a bird”, “birds”… there is a lot of potential for ambiguity!

Thai people add honorifics or relationship titles to identify their relationships with others. Such honorifics might include คุณ or kun (Mr/Mrs), แม่or mâem (mother, referring to an older woman) or พี่ or pêe (older sibling). In Thailand, it is essential to address people using the correct honorific (usually related to age) followed by their first name. Failure to do so would seem very rude to a native Thai.

Although word order in Thai is Subject-Verb-Object, the subject is often omitted. In English it is not optional.

In Thai, the verb “to be” is not used with adjectives. Rather than saying “he is clever”, you would say “he clever” in Thai.

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