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THAI ALPHABET

Specialty Definition: Thai alphabet

(From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia)

The Thai alphabet (ตัวอักษรไทย) is used to write the Thai language (ภาษาไทย) and other minority languages in Thailand. It has forty-four consonants (พยัญชนะ), twenty-eight vowel forms (รูปสระ) and four tone marks (วรรณยุกต์). Unlike the Roman alphabet (ตัวอักษรโรมัน), the Thai alphabet has no upper case letters and is written with no space between words, except for at the end of the sentences. There is a set of Thai numerals (ตัวเลขไทย), but the so-called Arabic numerals (ตัวเลขอารบิค) are also commonly used.

History

The Thai alphabet is probably derived from the Old Khmer (อักขระเขมร) script, which is a descendant of Brahmi, an Indic script. According to tradition it was created in 1283 by King Ramkhamhaeng the Great (พ่อขุนรามคำแหงมหาราช).

Alphabet listing

You will need a Unicode-capable browser and font that contains the Thai alphabet to view the Thai letters below.

Consonants

There are 44 consonants representing 21 distinct consonant sounds. The additional consonants are used to influence the tone of the vowel that follows. The consonants are divided into three classes - low, middle and high - which also influence the tone of the following vowel.

To aid learning, each consonant is traditionally associated with a Thai word that either starts with the same sound, or features it prominently. For example, the name of the letter ข is kho khai (ข ไข่), in which kho is the sound it represents, and khai (ไข่) is a word which starts with the same sound and means "egg".

Equivalents for Romanization are shown, although there is no single standard. Many consonants are pronounced and Romanized differently when at the end of a word. In particular 'r' is pronounced as 'n', 'l' may be pronounced as 'n' and 's' is silent (this is why many Thai speakers will always miss 's' sounds at the end of words when speaking other languages).

SymbolNameEquivalentClass
ko kai (chicken)kM
kho khai (egg)kh-, -kH
kho khuad (bottle) [obsolete]kh-, -kH
kho khwai (water buffalo)kh-, -kL
kho khon (person) [obsolete]kh-, -kL
kho rakhang (bell)kh-, -kL
ngo ngu (snake)ngL
cho chan (plate)ch-, -tM
cho ching (cymbals)ch-, -tM
cho chang (elephant)ch-, -tL
so so (chain)s-, -tL
cho choe (bush)ch-, -tL
yo ying (woman)y-, -nL
do chada (headdress)d-, -tM
to patak (goad)tM
tho sunthan (base)th-, -tH
tho nangmontho (dancer)thL
tho phuthao (old person)th-, -tL
no nen (novice monk)nL
do dek (child)d-, -tM
to tao (turtle)tM
tho thung (sack)th-, -tH
tho thahan (soldier)th-, -tL
tho thong (flag)th-, -tL
no nu (mouse)nL
bo baimai (leaf)b-, -pM
po pla (fish)pM
pho phung (bee)ph-, -pH
fo fa (wall)f-, -pH
pho phan (tray)ph-, -pL
fo fan (teeth)f-, -pL
pho sampao (sailboat)ph-, -pL
mo ma (horse)mL
yo yak (ogre)yL
ro rua (rowing boat)r-, -nL
lo ling (monkey)l-, -nL
wo waen (ring)wL
so sala (pavilion)s-, -tH
so rusi (hermit)s-, -tH
so sua (tiger)s-, -tH
ho hip (chest)hH
lo chula (kite)l-, -nL
o ang (basin)[silent]M
ho nokhuk (owl)hL

Vowels

Each vowel is shown in its correct position relative to a consonant. Note that vowels can go above, below, left of or right of the consonant.

SymbolName
กะsara a
กัmai han-akat
กาsara aa
กำsara am
กิsara i
กีsara ii
กึsara ue
กืsara uee
กุsara u
กูsara uu
เกsara e
แกsara ae
โกsara o
ใกsara ai maimuan
ไกsara ai maimalai
ก็mai taikhu

Tone marks

Each mark is shown in its correct location relative to the consonant ko kai. The names of the tones are derived from the numbers one, two, three and four in an Indic language.

SymbolNameMeaning (1)
ก่mai eklow tone
ก้mai thofalling tone
ก๊mai trihigh tone
ก๋mai jattawarising tone

Note 1: The meaning of the tone marker can be modified by the tone class of consonant to which it is attached.

Source: the above text is adapted by the editor from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia under a copyleft GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) from the article "Thai alphabet."

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Copyright © Philip M. Parker, INSEAD. Terms of Use.