Unlike other multi-ethnic nations, such as Myanmar and India, where official language policy has sparked bloody clashes, Thailand has maintained relative stability despite its eighty languages. In this study of the relations among politics, geography, and language, William A. Smalley shows how Thailand has maintained national unity through an elaborate social and linguistic hierarchy.
Smalley contends that because the people of Thailand perceive their social hierarchy as the normal order, Standard Thai, spoken by members of the higher levels of society, prevails as the uncontested national language. By examining the hierarchy of Thailand's diverse languages and dialects in light of Thai history, education, culture, and religion, Smalley shows how Thailand has been able to keep its many ethnic groups at peace. Linguistic Diversity and National Unity
explores the intricate relationship between language and power and the ways in which social and linguistic rank can be used to perpetuate order.