View your list of saved words. (You can log in using Facebook.)
Family of closely related languages spoken in Southeast Asia and southern China by more than 80 million people. According to a widely used classification, Tai comprises three branches. The Southwestern group includes Thai, the national language of Thailand; northeastern Thai and Lao, spoken in eastern Thailand and Laos; Pak Tay (South Thai), spoken in southern Thailand; Shan, spoken in eastern and northern Myanmar; and Tai Dam (Black Tai) and Tai Don (Tai Khaw, or White Tai), spoken mainly in North Vietnam. The Central group includes Nung and South Zhuang, a dialect chain in northern Vietnam and China's Guangxi autonomous region; and Tay (Thô), spoken in the same area. The Northern group includes Buyi and North Zhuang, a dialect chain spoken in Guangxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan, China. All Tai languages are tone languages. Most scholars believe the Tai family is related to a number of other languages spoken by minority peoples of southern China and northern Vietnam. Together with Tai, the entire group has been named the Kadai or Tai-Kadai family.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Tai languages, visit Britannica.com.
Seen & Heard
What made you look up Tai languages? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.