CONSONANTS | VOWELS | NUMERALS | PECULIARITIES | TONES | DEVANAGARI | CHINESE

THAI SCRIPT

 

 

ภาษาไทย

Introduction

This section is intended as a reference and aid to help recognize and determine the transcription of certain Thai words in the lexicon. There are many exceptions and rules that are not mentioned. The pronunciation of a consonant often differs depending on whether it stands at the beginning of a word or syllable, or at the end. In our reference list this is indicated by putting the pronunciation at the beginning of a syllable, followed by the pronunciation of the consonant at the end of a syllable. Sometimes consonants are written just once but pronounced twice. Some vowels are pronounced but not written. This mainly applies to the vowels o and a and are called ‘silent vowels’.

Thai is a tonal language and there are five tones namely high, low, middle, falling and rising. The meaning of a word changes according to its tone. These details are lost when transcribing into Latin script. So seemingly similar words in Latin script are different when read in Thai script. Consonants belong to a certain class of tone. The word-tone will be determined by this class and the changes to it are influenced by the vowels and consonants following it, or by ‘tone marks’.  In the section ‘tone rules’ the expression a ‘living sound’ refers to a sound that has either an open syllable ending on a long vowel or vowel combination (e.g. phaa, pai) or a closed syllable which end sound is nasal and reverberates (e.g. phaan, ping). With a ‘dead sound’ we refer to a sound that has a closed syllable ending with an occlusive and does not reverberate (e.g. phat) or a sound that has an open syllable ending on a short vowel that does not reverberate, possibly with a glottal stop (e.g. dja). See also comparative language list.

 

Consonants

..... k (hard g) - k

..... kh - k

..... kh - k (archaic)

..... kh - k

..... kh - k (archaic)

..... kh - k

..... ng - ng

..... ch (hard j) - t

..... ch - /

..... ch - t

..... s - t

..... ch - t

..... y (j) - n

..... d - t

..... t - t

..... th - t

..... th - t

..... th - t

..... n - n

..... d - t

..... t - t

..... th - t

..... th - t

..... th - t

..... n - n

..... b - p

..... p - p

..... ph - /

..... f - /

..... ph - p

..... f - f

..... ph - p

..... m - m

..... y - y (i)

..... r - n

..... l - n

..... w - w

..... s - t

..... s - t

..... s - t

..... h - /

..... l - n

..... (is, or accomp. a vowel)

..... h - /

See also Photographic Alphabet and Alphabet Postage Stamps.

 

Vowels

..... o (cons. used as a vowel)

อะ ..... a

อั ..... a

อา ..... aa (ah)

อำ ..... am

อิ ..... i

อี ..... ie (ih)

อึ ..... eu

อื ..... euh

อุ ..... oe

อู ..... oeh

เอ ..... e (dull e or short ae)

แอ ..... ae

โอ ..... oo (oh)

ใอ ..... ai (ay)

ไอ ..... ai (ay)

เอะ ..... e (dull e or short eu)

แอะ ..... ae (short)

โอะ ..... o (short)

เอาะ ..... o (short)

อัวะ ..... ua (short)

เอียะ ..... ia (short)

เอือะ ..... eua (short)

เออะ ..... e (dull and short)

ออ ..... ou

อัว ..... oua

-- ..... oua

เอีย ..... ia

เอือ ..... eua

เออ ..... e (dull e or short eu)

เอิ ..... eu

เอา ..... ao

ออย ..... oui (ooi)

อัย ..... ai (ay)

เอือย ..... euai (euay)

อุย ..... oei

โอย ..... ooi (ooy)

อาย ..... aai (aay)

ไอย ..... ai (ay)

เอย ..... eui (ey)

อาว ..... aaw

อิว ..... iw

เอว ..... eo (aew)

เอียว ..... ieao (iaw)

แอว ..... aew

 

Numerals

  ..... 1

..... 2

..... 3

..... 4

..... 5

..... 6

..... 7

..... 8

..... 9

0 ..... 0

 

 

Peculiarities

รร ..... an (double consonant), am (when รรม)

..... reu (re), ri (comb. vowel/cons.)

ฤา ..... reuh (reua)

..... leu (le) (comb. vowel/cons.)

ฦา ..... leuh

อ็ ..... mai tai ku (short o or shortens any sound)

อ์ ..... mai tan takaat, kahran (silences or changes final sound)

..... pai yaan noi (used with abbreviations, ฯลฯ = etc.)

..... yamok (used for repetition)

ทร ..... s-sound (combination of consonants)

 

Tones (marks and rules)

    Tone marks:

อ่ ..... mai ek  (ไม้เอก)

อ้ ..... mai toh (ไม้โท)

อ๊ ..... mai trih (ไม้ตรี)

อ๋ ..... mai chatawah (ไม้จัตวา)

 

Tone rules:

 

High tone class Midtone class Low tone class
อักษรสูง (๑๑)

 

อักษรกลาง () อักษรต่ำ (๒๔) คู่/ดี่ยว
ข (ฃ) ฉ ฐ ถ ผ ฝ ศ ษ ส ห ก จ ฎ ฏ ด ต บ ป อ

ค (ฅ) ฆ ช ซ ฌ ฑ ฒ ท ธ พ ฟ ภ ฮ

ง ญ น ย ณ ร ล ว ม ฬ

 

mnemonic: mnemonic:

 

mnemonics:
วดองฉันใส่ถุผ้ากให้ษฐี ก่จิกเด็ายเฎ็ายากโอ่ง See note below*

 

living sound = rising tone

dead sound = low ton

living sound = mid tone

dead sound = low tone

living sound = mid tone

dead sound (short vowel) = high tone

dead sound (long vowel) = falling tone

 

อ่ = low tone

อ้ = falling tone

อ่ = low tone

อ้ = falling tone

อ๊ = high tone

อ๋ = rising tone

อ่ = falling tone

อ้ = high tone

 

*Note: Low tone class consonants (fig.) can be divided into two groups, separating consonants that have an equivalent sounding consonant in either the high or mid tone class, from those that don't.

The first group of 14 consonants, with 7 different sounds, is referred to as akson tam khoo (อักษรต่ำคู่), i.e. ‘associated low consonants’, the second group of 10 consonants is referred to as akson tam diaw (อักษรต่ำเดี่ยว), i.e. ‘single low consonants’.

Hence, there are two mnemonics for the low tone class consonants, one for each group, i.e. พ่ค้ฟัองซื้ช้างฮ่ for the associated low consonants. This mnemonic does however not mention ฅ, ฆ, ฌ, ฑ, ฒ, ธ and ภ, as these are consonants with a similar sound as those already used in the sentence.

Yet, there is also another —though incomplete— mnemonic, that is sometimes used and that includes all letters apart from ฑ [and sometimes ท], i.e. เฌฆฒ่าใช้ซ่ใหญ่าดงรูปนกฮูกล้มรืนในงานาณยักษ์[ที่วัดโมฬีโลก].

For the second group of 10 single low consonants, the mnemonic is งูใหญ่นอนอยู่  ริวัดโมฬีก. It may, however, be sufficient to learn just the consonants of the high tone and midtone classes (fig.), as all the remaining consonants automatically belong to the low tone class.