51 Thai

Book cover
Cover of Prachum kāp hē r̄ưa – a collection of royal barge songs. Source: HathiTrust (University of Michigan).

From the beginning of its known history, Thai was the official language of the monarchy of Thailand. Spoken by more than 60 million people today, it retains a formal vocabulary of respect, used in ritual and in addressing the royal family. Its writing system is a careful adaptation of that of Khmer to a language with a distinct sound pattern and flavor.

Prachum kāp hē r̄ưa is a collection of Kāp hē r̄ưaKāp hē r̄ưa is a traditional genre of Thai literature written and used for royal barge processions in Thailand. The content of Kāp hē r̄ưa is usually a description of a variety of royal barges and natural scenery that the poet sees along the way, especially trees, fish, and birds. Some poets also write about their lovers from whom they have to part upon their journey.

The Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies (SSEAS) at UC Berkeley offers programs in both undergraduate and graduate instruction and research in the languages and civilizations of South and Southeast Asia from the most ancient period to the present. Instruction includes intensive training in several of the major languages of the area including Bengali, Burmese, Hindi, Khmer, Indonesian (Malay), Pali, Prakrit, Punjabi, Sanskrit (including Buddhist Sanskrit), Filipino (Tagalog), Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Urdu, and Vietnamese, and specialized training in the areas of literature, philosophy and religion, and general cross-disciplinary studies of the civilizations of South and Southeast Asia.2 Outside of SSEAS where beginning through advanced level courses are offered in Thai, related courses are taught and dissertations produced across campus in Anthropology, Asian American Studies, Comparative Literature, Ethnic Studies, Folklore, History, Linguistics and Political Science (re)examining the rich history and culture of Thailand.3

Arthit Jiamrattanyoo
PhD Student, Department of History, University of Washington

Sources consulted:

  1. Dalby, Andrew. Dictionary of Languages: The Definitive Reference to More Than 400 Languages. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
  2. Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley (accessed 2/21/20)
  3. Thai (THAI) – Berkeley Academic Guide (accessed 2/21/20)
Title: Prachum kāp hē r̄ưa
Title in English: n/a
Author: Gedney, William J., Damrongrāchānuphāp Prince, son of Mongkut, King of Siam 1862-1943.
Imprint: [Phranakhō̜n?]: Rōngphom Sōphon Phiphatthanākō̜n, 2460 [1917].
Edition: 1st edition
Language: Thai
Language Family: Kra-Dai
Source: HathiTrust Digital Library (University of Michigan)
URL: https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015076070310


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