Does “Thai” mean free?


Does “Thai” mean free?

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Mudassir Ali 3 months 1 Answer 298 views 0

Answer ( 1 )

  1. According to Lao oral history, the word “Tai” came from the Khun Borom mythology. Although there are many versions of this mythology. Each of them suggests that the ancestors of the Tai people once live in lowland but was forced to move up and live in mountainous region of what is now Son La province of North West Vietnam. The city they found was called Muang Thaen (some time written as “Tan” or “Taep”. In Lao language the word “Taep” is often used to indicate the origin or largest of its kind such as “paet taep-(a type of large ducks). In Thai language, Bangkok city is called “Krun Taep”. Muang Thaen is often time called “The city of God”. But that is not an accurate translation. Thaen is a name of a god who saved the people whom we called the “Tai”. So Muang Thaen is more accurate translated as “The city of a god, Thaen.”

    According the Khun Borom mythology, the Tai people were saved from a great flood. It is from this mythology the word “Tai” and “Lao” came from. Because these people were saved by a god names Thaen, the people called themselves “Tai”, which indicate them as the people of Thaen. This is the original definition of the word “Tai”. And because they were taken to the sky and lived among the stars (in mountains), they often call themselves “Kon Dao” or people of the stars. The word “Dao” (star) eventually changed to the word we have today as “Lao”.

    Muang Thaen was the gathering point for these Tai people before they migrated south and westward to makeup the majority of the people in Thailand, Laos and the Shan State people of Myanmar.

    During the 14th century, a large population of Tai-Kadai speaking people fled from what is now Southern China to present day Laos and Northeast Thailand. According to Western scholars, these Tai-Kadai speakers were fleeing from Kublai Khan army. From Lao version of history, they were fleeing from the Chinese. Regardless, these people eventually became know as the “Ai-lao” by the southern Tai people. These people eventually became know as “Tai-Lao”. We do not truly know what these “Tai-Lao” were called when they lived in southern China. It may be true that “Ai-lao” was their original name as some people suggested. But it could be the name given to them by the Tai of Southeast Asia because Khun Borom was their mythology not the “Ai-lao”. Furthermore, the literal translation of the word “Ai-lao” is “older brother Lao,”; but it could also means “older brother of the Lao people”.

    In short: the original meaning of the word “Tai” is “the people of a god, Tan” and the meaning of the word “Lao” is “the people of the stars.”

    The usage of these words changed overtime which is why there are different definitions.

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