IU in Thailand

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Full of long words and five tones, the Thai language can be both challenging and rewarding to learn.

Description of the following video:

[Words appear in upper-left corner: Indiana University presents]

[Words appear: Speaking the Thai language]
[Video: The camera pans quickly as it shows several large Buddha statues in Thailand.]
Wannasin Yaowalee, a Thai instructor at Indiana University, speaks in voiceover: Some of you might be interested in …
[Video: Wannasin Yaowalee appears on camera.]
[Words appear: Wannasin Yaowalee, Thai Instructor]
Yaowalee speaks: … learning Thai, so let me introduce some basic and useful phrases or sentences in Thai.
[Video: A closeup of a little girl's face. She is smiling toward the camera.]
 [Video: Traditional scenery in Thailand; golden palaces with hundreds of tourists visiting and taking pictures.]
[Words appear: How to say "hello."]
Yaowalee speaks in voiceover: First, "hi" or "hello" in Thai is S̄wạs̄dī.
[Video: An animated slide appears. An animated hand waves back and forth. Beneath the hand is the traditional Thai spelling for "hello." It reads สวัสดี, with the pronunciation underneath that reads sa-wàt-dii.]
Yaowalee speaks in voiceover: S̄wạs̄dī.
[Video: A closeup of an elephant in Thailand.]
[Video: A Thai village surrounded by water. Homes are on stilts, and boats are going in both directions on the water.]
[Words appear: How to say "I'm sorry."]
Yaowalee speaks in voiceover: Some of you might want to know what is "I'm sorry" in Thai.
[Video: An animated slide appears. A "sad face" icon is at the top of the slide. Beneath the icon is the traditional Thai spelling for "I'm sorry." It reads ขอโทษ, with the pronunciation underneath that reads khɔ̌ɔ-thôot.
Yaowalee speaks in voiceover: It is C̄hạn k̄hxthos̄ʹ. C̄hạn k̄hxthos̄ʹ.
[Video: A woman sits at the front of a traditional Thai boat that's moving swiftly in the water.]
[Video: Buddhist monks walk toward a temple in Thailand, dressed in orange robes.]
[Words appear: How to say "thank you."]
Yaowalee speaks in voiceover: When you go to Thailand, you might want to say "thank you." And that is K̄hxbkhuṇ.
[Video: An animated slide appears. A "happy face" icon is at the top of the slide. Beneath the icon is the traditional Thai spelling for "thank you." It reads ขอบคุณ, with the pronunciation underneath that reads khɔ̀ɔp-khun.
Yaowalee speaks in voiceover: K̄hxbkhuṇ.
[Video: A closeup of traditional Thai food.]
[Video: The hustle and bustle of Bangkok, Thailand, at night. People are walking throughout the city, bright neon signs are glowing atop store fronts, and traffic is moving quickly.]
Yaowalee speaks in voiceover: And when we say thank you, or K̄hxbkhuṇ, in Thai, it is better to say K̄hxbkhuṇ with this action.
[Video: A woman dressed in traditional Thai garments bows toward the camera and smiles.]
Yaowalee speaks in voiceover: This action we call Wâj.
[Words appear: Wâj.]
[Video: Scenery of Thailand: Historical monuments and palaces mixed with modern-day skyscrapers.]
Yaowalee speaks in voiceover: You might feel it is difficult, but it is not difficult -- learning Thai is very fun.
[Screen goes to black]
[IU trident appears]
[Words appear: Indiana University]
[Words appear: Fulfilling the promise]
[Words appear: iu.edu]

About 50 million throughout the world people speak Thai. The language is unique for both its alphabet -- it has 44 letters with 21 sounds, so some letters share the same sound -- and unlike the Latin or Roman alphabet which is the most used alphabet in the writing system in the world today, the Thai alphabet is used in writing Thai only. It also has very long words, particularly when it comes to people's names. Thai people have gotten around this issue by providing one- or two-syllable nicknames to children when they are born. 

A sometimes difficult aspect of the language to grasp is tone. The Thai language has five tones, which can give the same words different meanings. Of the tonal languages in the world, Thai is considered complex, which can add to the difficulty.

Thai instructor Wannasin "Kei" Yaowalee​, provides a few tips for learning the historic language.