Southern Thai or Dambro (Thai: ภาษาไทยใต้, IPA: pʰaːsaː tʰajɗaj; Thai: ภาษาตามโปร, IPA: pʰaːsaː ɗaːmbro) is a Tai language spoken in the 14 changwat of Southern Thailand as well as by small communities in the northernmost Malaysian states. It is spoken by roughly five million people, and as a second language by the 1.5 million speakers of Pattani Malay and other ethnic groups such as the local Thai Chinese communities, Negritos, and other tribal groups. Most speakers are also fluent or understand the standard Thai language.
In Thailand, speakers of Southern Thai can be found from as far north as Prachuap Khiri Khan Province
all the way down to the border with Malaysia
. Small numbers of speakers can be found in the Malaysian border states, especially Tumbat, Kelantan
, and Perak
. It is the primary language of Thai people as well as ethnically Malay people on both sides of the Thai-Malaysian border, who often use it as a second language. Although numerous regional variations exist and there is no one standard, the language is most distinct near the Malaysian border, but all varieties remain mutually intelligible to each other. For economic reasons, many speakers of Southern Thai have moved to Bangkok and other Thai cities or to the Middle East, where many speakers share Islam
as a professed religion.
Malay kingdoms ruled much of the Malay Peninsula
, such as the Pattani Kingdom
, but most of the area fell under the rule of Srivijaya
. The area was heavily influenced by the culture of Indian
traders, and numerous Buddhist and Hindu shrines attest to the diffusion of culture. The collapse of Srivijaya was filled by the growth of the Kingdom of Nakhon Sri Thammaraj
, which subsequently became a vassal of Sukhothai
. The area has been a frontier between the northern Tai peoples and the southern Malay peoples as well as between Buddhism and Islam. The tensions fuelled by brutal Thaification
policies, suppression of local culture, and general poverty has lead to the current South Thailand insurgency
Differences from Standard Thai
Although the most similar in lexicon
and grammar of the major regional languages of Thailand, Southern Thai is different enough that mutual intelligibility between the two can be problematic. Southern Thai represents a diglossic
situation from the formal Thai spoken with Southern Thai tones and accent to the common language, which utilises more local vocabulary and incorporates more words from Pattani Malay
. The Thai language was introduced with Siamese incursions into the Malay Peninsula starting as early as Sukhothai
, and the area in which Southern Thai is spoken was a frontier zone between the Malay Sultanates. Malay vocabulary is an integral part of the vocabulary as Malay was formerly spoken throughout the region and many speakers of the language still speak the Pattani dialect of Malay.
Southern Thai is mainly a spoken language, although the Thai alphabet is often used to write it in the informal situations when it is written. It is also sometimes written in a modified version of the Arabic script, known as Jawi, especially when written by religious Muslims and the Pattani.
The words that are used that are etymologically Thai are often spoken in a reduced and rapid manner, making comprehension difficult. Also, the tonal distribution is different, with Southern Thai using up to seven tones in certain provinces. In contrast to Northern Thai, Isan language, and informal registers of Standard Thai, Southern Thai speakers almost always preserve ร as /r/ and not as /l/.
Differences between Southern Thai and Thai
| หร่อย, rɔːj|| อร่อย, aʔrɔːj|| delcious|| ม่าย, mɑːj|| ไหม, mɑj|| question particle |
| แหลง, lɛːŋ|| พูด, pʰuːt|| to speak|| จังหู้, tɕaŋhuː|| มาก, maːk || a lot |
| ลี้ปรี, liːpriː || พริก, pʰrik|| chilli|| หลุหละ, lulaʔ|| สกปรก, sokprok|| dirty |
| หย้บ, jop|| ยี่สิบ, jiːsip || twenty|| บาย, bɑːj|| สบาย, saʔbɑːj|| to be well |
| ยานัด, jɑːnat|| สับปะรด, sappaʔrot|| pineapple|| นากา, naːgaː|| นาฬิกา, naːligaː|| clock |
| ขี้มัน, kʰiːman|| ขี้เหนียว, kʰiːnio|| stingy|| พรือ, pʰrɯːa|| อะไร, aʔrɑj|| what? |
| ยัง, jaŋ|| มี, miː|| to have|| แค, kʰɛː|| ใกล้, glɑj|| near |
| พี่บ่าว, pʰiːbaːw|| พี่ชาย, pʰiːtɕʰɑj|| older brother|| เกือก, gɯːak|| รองเท้า, rɔːŋtʰaw|| shoe |
| ตอเช้า, ɗɔtɕʰaw|| พรุ่งนี้, nitnɔː|| tomorrow|| พร้าว, pʰraw|| มะพร้าว, maʔpʰraw|| coconut |
| หลาด, laːt|| ตลาด, ɗaʔlaːt|| market|| ประตู, pʰraʔɗuː|| ตู, ɗuː|| door |
| แล, lɛː|| ดู, duː|| to see|| หัวหน้า, huanɑː|| นายหัว, nɑːjhua|| boss |
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