Thai alphabet

From Academic Kids

Template:Alphabet 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). The consonants are written horizontally from left to right, while the vowels are arranged above, below, to the left or to the right of the corresponding consonant.

Unlike the Roman alphabet, the Thai alphabet does not distinguish minuscule and majuscule letters. It is usually written with no space between words, which is facilitated by the fact that most Thai words have only one syllable. The end of sentences is marked by a space.

There is a set of Thai numerals (ตัวเลขไทย), but the so-called Arabic numerals (ตัวเลขอารบิก) are also commonly used.

Contents

History

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

Alphabet listing

Template:IPA notice

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. Duplicate consonants represent different Sanskrit and Pali consonants pronounced identically in Thai. Their continued use is necessary to differentiate among unrelated loan-words which are Thai homophones. The consonants are divided into three classes - low, middle and high - which determine the tone of the following vowel. There are in addition four consonant-vowel combination characters not included in the tally of 44.

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 khor khai (ข ไข่), in which khor is the sound it represents, and khai (ไข่) is a word which starts with the same sound and means "egg".

Two of the consonants (khor khuat and khor khon) aren't used in written Thai anymore. Some say that when the first Thai typewriter was developed by Edwin Hunter McFarland in 1892, there was simply no space for all characters, thus two had to be left out.

Equivalents for Romanization are shown in the table below. Many consonants are pronounced differently at the beginning and at the end of a syllable. The entries in columns initial and final indicate the pronunciation for that consonant in the corresponding positions in a syllable. Where the entry is "-", the consonant may not be used to close a syllable. Where a combination of consonants ends a written syllable, only the first is pronounced; possible closing consonant sounds are limited to 'k', 'm', 'n', 'ng', 'p' and 't'.

Although an official standard for Romanisation is defined by the Royal Thai Institute, many publications use different Romanisation systems. In daily practice a bewildering variety of Romanisations is used, making it difficult to know how to pronounce a word, or to judge if two words (e.g. on a map and a street sign) are actually the same. For more precise information, an equivalent from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is given as well.

Each consonant is assigned to a "class" (Low, Middle, High), which plays a role in determining the tone with which the syllable is pronounced.

SymbolName Royal ThaiIPAClass
   InitialFinalInitialFinalClass
kor kai (chicken) kkM
khor khai (egg) khkH
khor khuat (bottle) [obsolete] khkH
khor khwaai (water buffalo) khkL
khor khon (person) [obsolete] khkL
khor ra-khang (bell) khkL
ngor nguu (snake) ngngL
jor jaan (plate) jtM
chor ching (cymbals) ch-H
chor chaang (elephant) chtL
sor soo (chain) stL
chor choe (bush) ch-L
yor ying (woman) ynL
dor chadaa (headdress) dtM
tor patak (goad) ttM
thor santhaan (base) thtH
thor naangmonthoo (dancer) thtL
thor phuuthao (old person) thtL
nor neen (novice monk) nnL
dor dek (child) dtM
tor tao (turtle) ttM
thor thung (sack) thtH
thor thahaan (soldier) thtL
thor thong (flag) thtL
nor nuu (mouse) nnL
bor baimaai (leaf) bpM
por plaa (fish) ppM
phor phueng (bee) ph-H
for faa (lid) f-H
phor phaan (tray) phpL
for fan (teeth) fpL
phor samphao (sailboat) phpL
mor maa (horse) mmL
yor yak (ogre) yyL
ror ruea (boat) rnL
ror rue (short) * rue--
ฤๅror rue (long) * rue--
lor ling (monkey) lnL
lor lue (short) * lue--
ฦๅlor lue (long) * lue--
wor waen (ring) wwL
sor saalaa (pavilion) stH
sor reusii (hermit) stH
sor seua (tiger) stH
hor hiip (chest) h-H
lor julaa (kite) lnL
or aang (basin) **-M
hor nok-huuk (owl) h-L

* Consonant-vowel combination characters, not members of any group.

** อ is a special case in that at the beginning of a word it is used as a silent initial for syllables that start with a vowel (all vowels are written relative to a consonant — see below).

Vowels

Thai vowel sounds and diphthongs are written using a mixture of vowel symbols, consonants, and combinations of vowel symbols. Each vowel is shown in its correct position relative to an initial consonant (indicated by a dash "–") and sometimes a final consonant as well (second dash). Note that vowels can go above, below, left of or right of the consonant; some are written with symbols to both the left and right of the consonant; and if the syllable starts with a consonant cluster, they are two positions to the left of the consonant whose sound precedes the vowel. The Romanisation of the International Phonetic Alphabet is given, as well as the Royal Thai Institute and several variant Romanisations often encountered. Sounds are very approximate equivalents in Northeastern US English.

Symbol Name IPA Royal Variants Sound
implied a aa, u u in "nut"
– – implied o o  oa in "boat"
–รร– ror han * au u in "nut"
–ว– wor waen * uauar ewe in "newer"
–อ sara or * oaw, ow aw in "saw"
–ะ sara a au u in "nut"
–ั – mai han-akaat au u in "nut"
–ัว sara ua uaewer ewe in "newer"
–ัวะ sara uah uaewer ewe in "sewer"
–า sara aa aaa a in "father"
–ำ sara am amum um in "sum"
–ิ sara i i  y in "greedy"
–ี sara ii iii, ee, y ee in "see"
–ึ sara eu ueeu, uh u in French "du" (short)
–ื sara euu ueeu u in French "dur" (long)
–ุ sara u uoo oo in "look"
–ู sara uu uuu, oo ue in "sue"
เ– sara e eay, a, ae, ai a in "lame"
เ–็ – sara e e  e in "neck"
เ–ะ sara eh eeh e in "neck"
เ–อ sara oe oeeu, u u in "burn"
เ–อะ sara oe oeeu, u e in "the"
เ–ิ – sara oe oeeu, u e in "the"
เ–า sara ao aoaw, ow ow in "cow"
เ–าะ sara orh oorh, oh, or o in "not"
เ–ีย sara ia iaear, ere ea in "ear"
เ–ียะ sara iah iaiah, ear ea in "ear" with
glottal stop
เ–ียว sara iao iaoiow io in "trio"
เ–ือ sara uea ueaeua, ua ure io in "pure"
แ– sara ae aea, e a in "ham"
แ–ะ sara aeh aeaeh, a a in "at"
โ– sara o ooh, or o in "go"
โ–ะ sara oh ooh o in "poke"
ใ– sara ai mai muan aiay, y i in "I"
ไ– sara ai mai malai aiay, y i in "I"

* vowels or diphthongs written with consonant symbols

Diacritics

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

SymbolNameMeaning
ก่mai ektone mark
ก้mai thotone mark
ก๊mai triitone mark
ก๋mai jattawaatone mark
ก็mai taikhuushortens vowel
ก์mai thantakhaatindicates silent letter

Other symbols

SymbolNameMeaning
paiyaan noipreceding word is abbreviated
ฯลฯpaiyaan yaietc.
mai yamokpreceding word or phrase is repeated

Thai in computing

TIS-620 is the best-established character set and character encoding for the Thai alphabet. TIS-620 has been adopted verbatim by in the Unicode range for Thai, U+0E00 ... U+0E7F.

  0123456789ABCDEF
E00 
E10 
E20 
E30 ฿
E40 
E50 
E60 
E70 ๿

See Also

fi:Thai aakkoset fr:Alphabet tha ja:タイ語 nl:Thais alfabet th:อักษรไทย

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