Siamese (Thai)

Mae Sot, Thaïlande
Mae Sot, Thaïlande © Peter Hershey‎

Discover the language

Siamese (or "Thai") has been taught at Inalco since 1874, currently within the Southeast Asia and Pacific Department. Belonging to the "Tai-Kadai" family, it is related to some thirty other languages, including lao (taught at Inalco) and Shan (spoken in northern Myanmar), to name only the most important in terms of the number of speakers.

Siamese, the official language of the Kingdom of Thailand, is spoken and understood by over 65 million people. Its study and mastery, outside the fields more specifically covered by the "Humanities", is particularly useful for any foreigner wishing to work in Thailand, in any profession whatsoever (industry, international trade, banking, insurance, etc.): this is why it is one of the languages for access to the CPEI.

Written since the XIIIth century, Siamese, a language of culture, has incorporated - and continues to incorporate - a large stock of vocabulary borrowed from the languages of the Far East, Southeast Asian countries, India and Europe; English is today the major purveyor of borrowings, mainly in the scientific and technical fields.

Siamese is defined by three essential characteristics:

  1. it's an isolating language: all words are invariable (no gender, number, tense or mode markers). Syntactic order is therefore essential to expression and comprehension.
  2. It is a language with a monosyllabic tendency: like all languages of the "Tai-Kadai" group, its original stock comprises only monosyllables. However, its many borrowings (from sanskrit, from khmer, from môn, from pāli, to Malay, to Javanese, but also to English and other Western languages) mean that we now find a significant number of polysyllables.
  3. It's a polytonal language: Siamese has five relevant tones. Thus, there is as much difference between หมา /mǎː/ and ม้า /máː/ as between "dog" and "horse".

Partner universities in Thailand and mobility

Inalco has signed agreements with Thammasat University (Bangkok), Silpakorn University (Nakhon-Pathom), Khon Kaen University (Khon Kaen), Ram Khamhaeng University (Bangkok) and Kasetsat University (Bangkok). They offer an integrated curriculum at undergraduate level (normally from L3, exceptionally from L2 depending on the candidate's skills) and at M1 level.


Under this program, students can study at a European university. The duration of mobility varies from 3 months to one academic year. Students concerned are those enrolled at Inalco, at least in L2 and up to and including thesis.

Student association

Thai Students Association.