To understand Thai culture, belief and value, it is important to understand the language use in Thai society. According to sociolinguistic point of view, Thailand is considered the “Diglossia Society”, where there are variety of languages use to serve a specialized function and are used for particular purpose. The purpose of the different language is to serve the different types of people. The standard Thai language is used with normal domain or normal people. Another language is used for ” High Function” or with the higher status domains such as with the monk and with the King and the Royal family. This kind of language is called ” Kam Racha Sap” / /.
The difference of the standard Thai language and Kam Racha Sap reflects Thai Society. Hence, it is necessary to understand how the two languages work, the differences of the two categories of Thai language so that we will understand Thai culture more. According to ” Language in Society”, An introduction to Sociolinguistics, by Suzanne Romaine, the standard language is normally acquired at home as a mother tongue and continues to be used throughout life. Its main uses are in familial and familiar interactions.
In Thailand, the standard language is acquired from home, school and public arenas. Different parts of the country acquire different local languages. However, people have to learn the standard language in order to be able to communicate with the rest of the people from the different parts of the country. It is used in school, governmental office, bank, university, and every public arena. People from Bangkok and its vicinities mostly acquire standard language from home as a mother tongue. Unlike people from other parts of the country who acquire local language as a mother tongue.
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Both local and standard languages serve the same purpose. They are used in normal conversation, with family member, friend, and other familiar interaction or with the normal domains such as school, governmental office, etc. To serve the high status domains or people, Thai people are required to use higher function language, which is “Kam Racha Sap”/ /. Kam Racha Sap is considered Higher function. According to “language in Society” An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, by Suzanne Romaine, people do not acquire higher function language at home as a mother tongue. They acquire the higher function language in school or they are tough in some institutions.
Not everyone can use high function language properly. People must have knowledge of using this language. Not all people have knowledge of using Kam Racha Sap. It is tough only in school and some of Thai language institutions. It is used to serve higher status of domains and people. Thus, Kam Raha Sap is considered higher function language.
According to National Dictionary, 1982, p. 682 (Translated by Author), Kam Racha Sap means special language used for communicate with the King and Royal family. Later it is also used with the monk and the governor. According to ” Thai Language Grammar”, p. 157 (Translated by the author), Kam Racha Sap means language for the king or the royal language. In the past, Racha Sap was used for talking to or mentioning about the king or the royal family.
It was for normal people talking to the king and the royal family not the king and the royal family talking to each other. Later, it is also used with governor and also including the official language. Hence, Kam Racha Sap, now, means the language used with 1. The king and the queen, 2. the royal family, 3.
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monk, 4. governor, and 5. formal situation. With different status also use different words. Thai people have been using Kam Racha Sap for centuries. There are none of any research found the beginning of the use of Kam Racha Sap.
However, there was an official announcement of using Kam Racha Sap in the period of King Pra Baron Trai Loknart, in 1458 during Ayutthaya period. It is counted as the first Kam Racha Sap document (translate by the author).
There are 2 ways to create Kam Racha Sap. 1. Borrow words from other language. 2.
Combine other language with Thai language. Using only Thai words sounds too normal so we have to borrow words from other language to make Kam Racha Sap sounds different from the normal standard language. Moreover, only noun and verb are created as Kam Racha Sap. Different kinds of word used in Kam Racha Sap. 1.
Thai word only. Noun: there must be the word “Pra or Pra Rach” / / in front of those nouns. For example, Kam Racha Sap Use With Meaning Normal Word Pra Chao / / The King only Head Hua / /Pra Sien / / the royal family Head Hua / /Verb: We have to add the word “Song”/ / in front of those verbs. For example, Kam Racha Sap Use With Meaning Normal Word Song Pra Rachadamri / The King only To think Kid /Song Pra Dari / the royal family To think Kid /2. Combined words. There are two kind of combined words.
1. Thai with Thai 2. Thai with other language. 3.
Borrow words from other languages. 1. Bale e Sanskrit / / 2. Cambodian 3.
Malay / Another type of Kam Racha Sap that is mentioned in this essay is the language used with the monk. It is also counted as Kam Racha Sap. The different between Kam Racha Sap with The king and the monk is that the king and the royal family speak normal language to the people but Kam Racha Sap with monk is use for both people talking to the monk and the monk talking to the people. Moreover, the language used with monk is separated into different ranking of the monk. Examples of Kam Racha Sap Verb: Kam Racha Sap Use With Meaning Normal Word Pra Racha Tan The King only To Give Hai /Pra Tan the royal family To Give Hai /Pra Tan Patreache To Give Hai /Hai / Monk To Give Hai /Remark: words used when mention that they give something to the people. Kam Racha Sap Use With Meaning Normal Word Kor Pra Rach tan Pra Baromarachanuyad/ The King only To Give Hai /Kor Pra Racha tan Pra Anuyad the royal family To Give Hai /Kor Prat an Pra Anuyad Patreache To Give Hai /Kor Tawas Monk To Give Hai /Remark: words used when people give something to them.
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Noun: Kam Racha Sap Use With Meaning Normal Word Pra Racha Banja thorn / The King only Bed Tee Norn /Pra Tan Bantam / the royal family, Patreache Bed Tee Norn/Pronoun: Kam Racha Sap Use With Meaning Normal Word Tai Fa Laong Tule e Prabat / The King, and the queen only You Khun /Tai Fa Laong Prabat / the royal family, You Khun/Pra Kun Chao / Patreach, You Khun/Kah Pra Puthachao/ The King, the Royal family I Chan /Kra Mom / Patreach, I Chan/ If we study Thai language carefully, we would understand that there is the traditional way to use different types of language to match with different social status of people. There are varieties of language use with family member, friend, boss, monk way up to the king. These languages reflect that Thai culture concerns very much about the class and the status of people. We show respect to the people by using different kinds of languages.
The very good example of the language that reflects this belief is Kam Racha Sap. It is specially created to use with higher status people, monk, the royal family, and the king. It is the way to give respect to the people in higher ranking. Moreover, within Kam Racha Sap itself, there are also various languages used with different ranking of those people.
Not only that normal people have to give respect to the higher status people, but the higher status people themselves also have to show respect to those who are higher than them. It is obviously that there are social class concerns in everyone in Thai society. It is also because Thai people believe that to live peacefully, they have to give respect to those higher status. Thai people also believe that by using the right language with the right people and paying respect to the higher status people add value to the culture and tradition. Understanding Thai language will understand Thai culture more.
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According to the above information, Thai language especially Kam Racha Sap reflects Thai culture. As we can see that there are various kinds of language used in Thailand. Standard Thai language and Kam Racha Sap are the two main languages. They are differently used according to the social status of each person.
Standard language is used in the normal domains or with normal people such as family member, friends, or any other familiar interactions. Kam Racha Sap is the high function language used in higher domains or with higher social status people such as The King, Queen, The royal family and the monk. Moreover, there are also sub languages within these two categories to determine the rank of those people. We have to learn to use the right word with the right status of the people. If we use wrong type of language or wrong word with wrong status of people, we might be considered uneducated or do not give respect to the person we are talking to mentioning about.
Thus, it can be said that Thai culture concern very much about class differentiate. We show respect to the people by using different kinds of the language. It shows that Thai people value the status of the people. Thai culture shows the politeness through the language use. Thus, to be able to keep manner in Thai society, you must learn the language use in order to use it properly.