Thai, which is linguistically related to Chinese, is the official language. Other languages are spoken, including Chinese, Lao, Khmer, and Malay. The literacy rate is 89 percent. The Thai alphabet is completely different from the Roman alphabet, and there are multiple ways to transliterate words may be spelled different ways in English. Ethnologue.com lists the number of languages in Thailand as seventy-five.
Cultural Note: Thai is a complex language with five different tones. While this makes it difficult for Westerners to speak, Thais will appreciate a foreigner who takes the time to learn even a few phrases in Thai. There are only eight possible consonants that a word in Thai may end with: p, t, k, m, n, ng, w, and y. Consequently, when Thais speak English, they have trouble with words that end in other sounds. English words ending in / tend to be shifted to the n sound; for example, the word “Oriental Hotek” is pronounced “Orienten Hoten”. And, because the s sound is not used in endings, Thais tend to leave the s off pluralized words. The Thai alphabet is similar to the alphabets used in Burmese and Laotian scripts. Thais is written from left to right. Adding to the difficulty for Westerners, there are no spaces between individual words.