Linguistic Borrowing – in Thai, generally

WARNING: THIS CAN GET REAL TECHNICAL. But it is good to know, of course.

Linguistic borrowing – it is a phenomenon which can happen to any language. People from different origins trade and communicate, it is only by common sense that language flows as well. For example, when we receive Buddhism from India, technology or sports from the western, cuisine from China or Japan, we also receive their terms. Some of the borrowed words from Pali, Sanskrit, or Khmer, are being used as polite terms and/or terms for royalty.

Example of borrowed words


สัญญา – sănyaa

ปฏิเสธ – pàtìsèht

สบาย – sàbaai


บริษัท – borrísàt

ภาษา – phaasăh

นาที – nahthee

Notes: If you see these consonants, it should be more or less from either Pali or Sanskrit origin. It may not always be the case but this is worth noting.

ฆ ณ ฎ ฏ ฐ ฑ ฒ ณ ภ ศ ษ ฬ ฤ ฤๅ


กะทิ – kàthí

เดิน – dern

เรียน – rian


ห้าง – hâang

ปุ๋ย – pŭi

ตั๋ว – tŭa

Java – Malay

มังคุด (manggustan) – mangkúd

โลมา (lomba-lomba = dolphin) – lohmaa

ภูเก็ต (bukit = hill)) – phookèt


สบู่ (sapão – Portuguese) – sàbòo

ขนมปัง (pão – Portuguese) – khànŏm pang

เหรียญ (real – Portuguese)- rĭan

Some of the newer terms are given a definition based on the “translation”. Example of such words are:

หัวหอก – hŭa hòrk = spearhead

ช้อนโต๊ะ – chórn tóh = table spoon

แม่เลี้ยงเดี่ยว – mâe líang diào = single mom

ฝันกลางวัน – făn klaang wan = day dream

Quiz: Can you guess these words are originated from which languages:

กรุณา – kàrúnah = Please

รัฐ – rát = State

ศิลปะ – sĭnlápà = Art

กำลัง – kamlang = Strength

ทุเรียน – thúrian = Durian


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