A Grammar Sketch of Standard Thai based on Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations on the Thai Language under the Department of Linguistics, University of the Philippines Diliman

  • Kritsana A. Canilao


Thai is a tone language in which each syllable has a distinctive tone. Controlled pitch movement of tones carry contrastive meaning of words. StandardThai, the official or national language of Thailand, is a variety of Central Thai, one of Thai dialects used mostly in the Bangkok metropolitan area and the Central plains of Thailand. Standard Thai, a desired or idealized variation of Thai dialects, is used widely throughout the country. The main objective of this paper is to present a grammatical sketch of the Standard Thai used between the 1970s and 1990s based on Thai language and linguistics research under the University of the Philippines Diliman Department of Linguistics (UP Linguistics). The scope of this work includes a description of the cumulative levels of Thai/Standard Thai grammatical hierarchy where the surface structures of phonemes, morphemes, lexical words, phrases, clauses, and sentences were examined. The two dissertations and 14 theses had been scrutinized and summarized into one piece of work as Thai Reference Grammar of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. According to the research materials, the relationship among the various elements of a sentence and among sentences was investigated primarily based on Generative, Transformational Grammar (TG), or Transformational-Generative Grammar (TGG). To discover the underlying representative structures of Thai, the studies adopted the assumption of transformational theory explaining how Thai native speakers can generate and comprehend all possible grammatical sentences. The trends of syntactic construction had likely been changed and/or simplified. Several arguments were raised on the grammatical rules which Thais could apply. The syntactic derivations had been made from the embedding compound and/or complex sentences: noun phrases were derived from the embedding of adjectival clauses/sentences. Moreover, a great number of grammatical and linguistic terms to be used were to be clarified.