Can climate influence the length of words? In Thailand it can!

As well as exploring interesting new places, travelling enables you to learn about the customs and traditions of other people. During a recent holiday to Thailand, we noticed that people in the South speak faster than those in the North and the temptation to look into the reasons behind this proved irresistible!

A number of scholars have tried to offer explanations. Let’s take a look at their theories about the phenomenon.

What language do people speak in Thailand?

The official national language is Thai. It features a number of combinations of tones, complex orthography and numerous accents. Linguists consider regional varieties such as Southern Thai and Northern Thai to be different languages, whereas the native speakers simply see them as different kinds of Thai.

What are the differences between the North and the South?

Compared to Northerners, people in the South of Thailand not only speak more quickly but also use shorter words and tend to bring their conversations to a close fairly promptly.

The influence of the weather and the climate

It appears that the secret lies in the climatic differences between the South and the North of the country. The mountainous North has a cooler climate (15-20°C) than the South, where there are world-famous beaches and the temperature remains at a steady 28-35°C all year round.

The theory is that people from Southern Thailand try to avoid chatting outside in the hot sun for too long. They prefer to stay at home in the shade, so they keep their outdoor conversations as brief as possible. Consequently, over time the words that they use have got shorter.

Meanwhile, people from Northern Thailand are happy to stand outside enjoying the pleasant temperatures and having long, leisurely chats. Over the centuries, it is thought that this has gradually slowed down the pace of their conversations and led to the construction of longer words.

Have you ever noticed interesting differences between the dialects of a country that you’ve visited on holiday? Tell us all about it by sending us an email or a message on our Facebook page.


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