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Sanskrit Origins of Thai, Lao and Khmer Province Names


Sanskrit Origins of Thai, Lao and Khmer Province Names

Since ancient times, the Indian Subcontinent has been in contact with Southeast Asia because of trade, religions and kingdoms.

Hinduism and Buddhism had a huge influence on Southeast Asia. Sanskrit and Pali (The liturgical languages of Hinduism and Buddhism) were also imported from India. The impact of this diffusion can still be seen in the Geography of mainland Southeast Asia.

Many names in Thailand and Cambodia have a Sanskrit and native root present in one word. Such names have been put into (parentheses).
Also, the longest Sanskrit names are given to the capital cities of the three nations - Bangkok, Vientiane and Phnom Penh.

Hinduism was gradually replaced by Buddhism in almost all of Southeast Asia except the Malay archipelago and some parts of Burma. The names of the provinces however show how extensively, Hinduism and Sanskrit influnced these cultures. 

Names like Rāma, Viśņu, Brahmā (Chaturmukha) and Indra can be seen being used regularly.

Thai and Lao languages are members of the Kra-Dai (Tai-Karai) Language Family. Khmer (Cambodian) along with Vietnamese are members of the Austro-Asiatic Language Family. While, Sanskrit is an Indo-Āryan language belonging to the Indo-European Language Family.

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