By Hilary Picken | February 28, 2019 | Languages
Thai is traditionally written in Thai script, which uses a very different alphabet from our own. This means an at-a-glance comparison would reveal very little in the way of similarities between your original and the translated article.
What you will notice, though, is the highly intricate nature of Thai script. There are two closely-related standards for transliterating Thai into the Latin alphabet, however neither one is fully accepted and this kind of transcription often causes difficulties with the Thai language.
The script is more than six hundred years old. It seems likely that Thai script derives from one or several Indic scripts, with close connections ascribed to the Brahmic and Khmer scripts in the same family.
More than half of written Thai is directly compatible with Lao, to the point that literate Lao are functionally literate in Thai and vice versa. Mirroring this history of Indian influence, the Ramakien, often called Thailand’s national epic, can be considered a version of the great Indian poem known as the Ramayana.
However, the Thai variations expand the influence of Hanuman on the story and provide a happy ending, a significant divergence which reflects the differences between the two cultures.Multiple Thai kings are noted writers: Rama I and II were involved in the adaptation of the Ramakien, while Rama V and Rama VI wrote non-fiction designed to incorporate Western learning into the Thai culture, with varying degrees of success.
As well as the Indian influence, Thai thought and writing shows clear signs of heritage from Chinese literature, and until the Thai language achieved primacy, much of Thailand’s writing was done in Chinese.
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