Back to Lectures

From Text to Sound: Reconstructing the Sound System of Ayutthaya Thai

The sound system of the Thai language during the Ayutthaya period is uncertain due to a lack of systematic descriptions dating to before the 19th century. In this lecture, we’ll delve into the fascinating task of reconstructing the sound system of Ayutthaya Thai. We’ll explore various sources such as inscriptions, poetry, foreign transcriptions, and orthographical treatises to piece together the puzzle.

Our study suggests that the Thai language during the 417 years of the Ayutthaya Kingdom can be roughly divided into three periods. During the Old Thai period (14th-15th century), consonant sounds doubled the size of those in Modern Thai existed. However, during the Middle Thai period (16th century), they eroded, giving birth to a complex system of tonal distinctions in Early Modern Thai (17th century).

About the speaker

Pittayawat Pittayaporn (PhD) is an Associate Professor of Linguistics and head of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Research Unit, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University. A historical linguist, phonologist, and field linguist, he has worked on a wide range of Mainland Southeast Asian languages including Thai, Tai dialects of Vietnam and China, Moken, Moklen, Pattani Malay, and Palaung. He is best known for his research on Kra-Dai languages, especially his reconstruction of Proto-Tai. In addition to being recognized as a specialist on tonal variation and change, he has contributed to many genetic studies on the population history of Thailand.


Thursday, 10 August 2023 at 19:00


Lecture Room, 4/Floor, The Siam Society


Members and Students (to undergraduate level) — Free of charge
Non-Members — THB 200

For more information, please contact

To book your place, please contact Khun Pinthip at 02 661 6470-3 ext 203 or

More upcoming lectures