Introductory section

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Contents

Introduction

This is the first volume of a three-volume course designed to teach standard Thai. Standard Thai is the national spoken language of Thailand and is the dialect of educated speakers of Bangkok and central Thailand. Standard Thai in written and spoken form is known to some extend by nearly all Thais. There are approximately 20 million speakers.

The materials contained in the first two volumes consist of the following:

  1. Programmed introduction to Thai phonology
  2. Standard text of 40 lessons
  3. Text glossary

Not included in the text but considered to be integral part of the course are a series of tapes consisting of taped portions of the text and other supplementary materials.

These materials were designed to be used in a course of introduction where the main focus is on teaching the student to speak and understand Thai. This is not to say that reading and writing should be ignored, but that additional materials would be required for that purpose.

Basic to the approach recommended by the authors of this text are the following tenets:

  1. In the classroom only Thai should be spoken.
  2. The teacher should be either a native speaker of Thai or a non-native with excellent control of the language.
  3. Every effort should be made to make the instruction both in and out of class approximate 'real' use of the language.
  4. The use of audio-visual devices of all kinds (charts, films, objects, etc.) is encouraged, but they must be used in such a way to function as an integrated part of the instruction and not just as an interesting appendage.
  5. Language learning is largely a function of the student's interest, motivation, and application; therefore, every effort should be made to interest and motivate him to make the requisite effort to learn the language. Next to the student, the language teacher is the most important, imperative that the teacher not be restricted to the following slavishly any particular course of study. With this in mind we encourage Thai language instructors to look upon this text and the accompanying tapes as useful devices which may be modified as required and should in no sense be thought of as the sole or even the main instruments for teaching Thai.

Organization and use of this course

Basic dialog

There is a basic dialog at the beginning of each lesson. It consists of a limited number of exchanges between two or sometimes more persons. It represents a somewhat modified version of a 'real' dialog, since hesitation phenomena, false starts, and other features regularly occurring in real speech have been eliminated. It does present what two educated Thai speakers might say in a given situation if they were being particularly careful to avoid the features referred to above.

If the student has memorized the dialogs, he will have a store of language that is readily available when needed (assuming he is in a situation comparable to that of a particular dialog). It is, therefore, suggested that some time be spent for this purpose. Most of this time should be outside of the classroom with the tape recorder, since different students memorize at different rates, and if many class hours are used for this purpose, it will prove very boring to quick learners and very frustrating to slow ones.

Notes

There are 3 kinds of notes in this text: notes on the dialog, vocabulary notes, and grammar notes. Notes on the dialog present some information that is useful for understanding the dialog. It is often cultural. Vocabulary notes are used to explain the meaning of a word in somewhat greater depth than is included in the lesson glossary. Grammar notes provide a general understanding of Thai grammar. They are written in such a manner as to be useful to even the most linguistically unsophisticated learner. All types of notes should be read and studied outside of class. If some points are still unclear, the instructor may clarify further by giving additional examples, paraphrasing, or by explaining in Thai.

Drills

The drills in this textbook are for the purpose of providing an opportunity for the student to isolate a particular feature (grammatical or semantic) of the language and to practice it in a limited context until he understands well how to use it and can say it with good fluency and pronunciation.

It should be clearly understood that drills of any kind are simple devices for actuating practice having a particular focus and with a limited objective, and as such they do not represent 'real communication' in language no matter how cleverly they are arranged, therefore, the instructor should be constantly alert to signs of boredom and should switch to a different type of activity before that point is reached.

All this is not to say that drills do not have a place in language teaching. It is probably that a certain number of drills are very helpful if not absolutely indispensable in learning to speaking language well.

Various kinds of drill (substitution, transformation, etc.) are found in this textbook. In most cases it is obvious from the format of the drill what procedure (substitution of an item in a sentence, rearrangement of a sentence, expansion of a sentence or phrase, etc.) is called for. In those instances where it might not be clear, special instructions are provided.

Exercises

'Exercises' (as the term is used in this textbook) are distinguishable from drills mainly by the type of response they elicit. Drills are designed to elicit one particular response and any other response (even if it is correct in form and meaning) is unacceptable; whereas, the only requirement in an exercise is that the response conform logically with the original request (i.e. if you are asked where a certain building is, you don't respond with a description of it instead).

The exercises in any particular lessons in this text have two basic purposes: to provide (1) a setting in which communication of restricted kind can take place and (2) a means for the instructor to test the ability of the students to use the material in the lesson in more realistic situations.

The exercises in the lessons are an especially important part of the lesson and should be done at the end of the lesson. If students are unable to perform well, the task presented to them, the instructor should review any parts of the lesson that seem necessary for successful completion of those tasks. In no case should students go to the next lesson until they can do the exercises easily, rapidly, and correctly.

Lesson and text glossaries

At the end of each lesson there is a list of words occurring for the first time in that lesson. At the end of the volume there is a complete list of words in the first volume.

All entries are listed in alphabetical order (English alphabet) and are written in a phonemic transcription using Roman letters. With each noun is its unit classifier. A limited number of the more useful noun and verb compounds are included. Two examples are given below:

... (...) [หมอ (คน)] doctor (medical)
... ... [เข้าไป] to enter (away from the speaker)
... ... [เข้ามา] to enter (towards the speaker)

Taped material

Besides the tapes which form a major part of the Programmed Introduction to Thai Phonology, there are tapes of various kinds that accompany each lesson. The dialogs and most of the essential drills are recorded on the lesson tapes; however, they are recorded in such a manner as not to be an exact duplicate of the way in which the drill will be conducted in class, since the purpose of the tapes is to supplement not replace classroom work. Special pronunciation drills and remarks are included on the tapes.

Instructions: Programmed Introduction to Thai Phonology

The purpose of this material is to acquaint you with the significant feature of the Thai sound system. 'Significant' as used here refers to those features which distinguish words; for example, in English the words sit and set are distinguished only by the quality of the two vowels; therefore, we can only say that vowel quality is significant in English (i.e. if you say sit instead of set, you may be misunderstood). It is, therefore, important that you learn to hear and produce vowel quality. On the other hand, it does not matter whether you pronounce the vowel in hit long or short. You may find it a little harder to understand an Southerner who pronounces hit with a slightly longer vowel than you do, but you will not confuse it with heat, which has different vowel quality. We can see then that vowel quality is significant, but vowel length isn't in English.

The significant features of the Thai sound system referred to here relate to contrasts in pitch contour, length of vowels and diphthongs, aspiration of consonants, and syllable prominence.

In addition to the sound features referred to, you will be taught to read and write the special phonetic transcription which is used in the Thai Basic Course that follows this instruction.

The following procedure should be used with these materials:

  1. Put tape 1 of the Programmed Introduction on the tape recorder and proceed through it carrying out the instructions you hear on the tape. You will not need to refer to the text except for those portions of the material where you are asked to read or write something.
  2. When you are asked to write something, write it in the text and check your answers. If you need more time than is provided on the tape for checking your answers, stop the machine.
  3. If at any time in the program, you are confused about something, stop the tape, rewind it and listen to that particular part again.
  4. Although the process was designed primarily for use before beginning lesson one in the text, all or parts of it can be use profitably at later stages of the course as well.
  5. It is suggested that you do not work for longer periods of time than 30 minutes. Take a short break, and then return. All of the tapes can be completed in one day.
  6. Since almost all of the material is only on tape, it would be clearly impossible to do the program without the tapes and a tape recorder.

Programmed Introduction to Thai phonology

Student's Text.

Note: The only 'frames' that are written out in this text are those where you are asked to look at how something is written otherwise, the content of the frame is voiced only. You will be notified by the tape when you are to refer to the written text. Be sure to cover the answer when doing a written frame.

Part I is on tape only.

Part II Section 1

Frames 1-10 are on tape only.

Frame Content
11. Observe the way this word is written in the special writing system used in this book:
phaa
12. The 'ph' is used to represent the initial consonant in the word, which sounds like the 'p' in 'pat' in English. The 'aa' stands for 'long a', which sounds like 'ah' in 'father'.
13. Observe the way this word is written. Notice particularly the symbol above the vowels.
phaa
14. The 'hat' or 'circumflex accent' over the first vowel is used to indicate that the vowel is pronounced with the high falling pitch contour.
15. Pronounce this word 3 times: phaa
After each attempt, listen to the tape for confirmation.
16. If no mark is written above the vowel, that is indication that the word is to be pronounced with a mid-level pitch contour. Listen ot the pronunciation of phaa.
17. Listen to the pronunciation of the following words and write a mark above the vowel when necessary:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Answers: 1. ... 2. ... 3. ... 4. ... 5. ...
18. Listen to the following words and write them in the Thai transcription in the spaces below:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Answers: 1. ... 2. ... 3. ... 4. ... 5. ...
19. This word has a low rising pitch. It is written phaa.
20. The mark / / is written above the vowel to indicate that it is to be pronounced with a low rising pitch contour.
21 Read the following words. Check your response by the tape:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Answers: 1. ... 2. ... 3. ... 4. ... 5. ... 6. ...
22. Put the tone markers on the following words after they are pronounced on the tape:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
Answers: 1. ... 2. ... 3. ... 4. ... 5. ... 6. ... 7. ... 8. ...
23. Transcribe the following words:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Answers: 1. ... 2. ... 3. ... 4. ... 5. ... 6. ... 7. ... 8. ... 9. ... 10. ...

Part II Section 1 Drills

Frames 1-17 are on tape only.

18. This time look at the words below as they are read on the tape. Note carefully how they are written in the special writing system.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
11. 12. 13. 13. 15.
16. 17. 18. 19. 20.
19. This time write the words you hear on the tape in the spaces below using the special writing system:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
11. 12. 13. 13. 15.
16. 17. 18. 19. 20.
20. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
11. 12. 13. 13. 15.
16. 17. 18. 19. 20.

Part II Section 2

Frames 1-10 are on tape only.

11. The symbol / / above the vowel is used to indicate high pitch contour. Put the correct tone marker above the vowel in the words below:
1. 2. 3. 4.
Answers: 1. ... 2. ... 3. ... 4. ...

Part II Section 2

Frames 12-20 are on tape only.

21. Indicate the pitch contour of the following words by writing / / for high falling pitch; / / for high; and nothing for mid-level.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Answers: 1. ... 2. ... 3. ... 4. ... 5. ...
22. Listen to these words and transcribe them below:
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
Answers: 1. ... 2. ... 3. ... 4. ...
5. ... 6. ... 7. ... 8. ...
23. Read the following words and listen to the tap for pronunciation check:
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
Answers: 1. ... 2. ... 3. ... 4. ...
5. ... 6. ... 7. ... 8. ...

Part II Section 2 Drills

Frames 1-9 are on tape only.

10. Read the following words:
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
11. Write the words you hear below:
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
Answers: 1. ... 2. ... 3. ... 4. ...
5. ... 6. ... 7. ... 8. ...

Part II Section 3

Frames 1-5 are on tape only.

6. This word is written as follows phit.
7. Write this word: ____
Answer: phit
8. This word is written phit
What is the pitch contour on this word?
9. Do these words sound the same?
10. Do these words sound the same?
11. True or false? The symbol / / is used to indicate low pitch contour.
Answer: True
12. The symbol / / is used to indicate high falling pitch contour. True or false?
Answer: True
13. /ph/ is used to transcribe a sound that is like the 'p' in the English word pit. True or false? Answer: True

Frames 14-17 are on tape only.

18. This word is written khaat
19. This word is written khaat
20. Transcribe this word: ____
Answer: ...
21. Transcribe this word: ____
Answer: ...
22. Pronounce these words after the tape:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
23. Read these words. Check your responses with the tape:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Part II Section 3

Frames 24-30 are on tape only.

31. Read the words below:
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
32. Read the words you hear in the space below:
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.

Part III Section 1

Frames 1-23 are on tape only.

24. In the special phonetic alphabet used in the Thai Basic Course, aspirated t is written th (the h stands for aspiration).
25. How would you write this word in the special alphabet?
____
Answer: thaa

Frames 26-36 are on the tape only.

37. The word meaning 'eye' is written taa in the special phonetic alphabet.
38. Write these words in a phonetic transcription as you hear them:
1. ____ 2. ____ 3. ____ 4. ____
5. ____ 6. ____ 7. ____ 8. ____
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.

Part III Section 1 Drill

Frames 1-10 are on tape only.

11. Listen to the following words as they are pronounced on the tape:
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
9. 10. 11. 12.
13. 14. 15. 16.
17. 18.
12. Listen to a series of Thai words. If a word begins with an aspirated t, write th in the space besides its number. If it begins with an unaspirated t, write t after its number.
1. ____ 2. ____ 3. ____ 4. ____ 5. ____
6. ____ 7. ____ 8. ____ 9. ____ 10. ____
Answers: 1. t 2. th 3. t 4. th 5. t
6. th 7. th 8. th 9. t 10. t
13. Transcribe the words you hear in the spaces below:
1. ____ 2. ____ 3. ____ 4. ____
5. ____ 6. ____ 7. ____ 8. ____
9. ____ 10. ____ 11. ____ 12. ____
13. ____ 14. ____ 15. ____ 16. ____
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
9. 10. 11. 12.
13. 14. 15. 16.

Part III Section 2

Frames 1-4 are on tape only.

5. It begins with an unaspirated t (it doesn't have a puff of air after it) and it is written in the special alphabet.

Frames 6-8 are on tape only.

9. It begins with d and is written dii.

Frames 10-14 are on tape only.

15. Identify the following words by writing d, t, or th in the blank by their numbers, after you hear them on tape.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Answers: 1. d 2. th 3. th 4. t 5. d
6. th 7. d 8. t 9. th 10. d

Part III Section 3

Frame 1-5 are on tape only.

6. This word is written phaa. The 'h' after the 'p' shows that the 'p' is aspirated.
The 'h' after the 'p' shows that the 'p' is aspirated.
7. Does this word begin with an 'aspirated p'?
8. How would you write this word?: ____
Answer:

Frames 9-18 are on tape only.

19. The word meaning 'father's elder sister' is written paa in the special writing system used in the text. Listen to it.
20. The word meaning 'cloth' is written phaa.
21. You will now hear several repetitions of these two words. As you hear each one, write it in transcription in the space below:
1. ____ 2. ____ 3. ____ 4. ____
5. ____ 6. ____ 7. ____ 8. ____
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.

Part III Section 3

Frames 1-10 are on tape only.

11. Listen to a series of Thai words. If a word begins with an aspirated p, write ph in the space beside its number; if it begins with an unaspirated p, write p after its number.
1. ____ 2. ____ 3. ____ 4. ____
5. ____ 6. ____ 7. ____ 8. ____
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
12. Listen to the following words as they are pronounced on the tape:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
11. 12. 13. 15. 15.
13. Write the words you hear in the phonetic transcription in the spaces below:
1. ____ 2. ____ 3. ____ 4. ____
5. ____ 6. ____ 7. ____ 8. ____
9. ____ 10. ____ 11. ____ 12. ____
13. ____ 14. ____ 15. ____
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

Part III Section 4

Frames 1-8 are on tape only.

9. Read the following words and check your readings with the tape:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
10. A pair of words will be spoken, if they sound the same, say 'same'; if different, say 'different'.
11. Look at the following words as they are read on the tape. Notice in particular the tone marks above the vowels:
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
11.
12. Write the words you hear on the tape in the spaces below:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Note: If you didn't get most of them right including the correct tone mark, use a clean piece of paper and repeat the drill, as well as frame 11 above.

Part III Section 4 Drill

Frames 1 and 2 are on tape only.

3. Read the words below. Check with the tape for pronunciation.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
11. 12. 13. 14. 15.
4. Write the words you hear in transcription below:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Part III Section 5

Frames 1-7 are on tape only.

8. In transscription aspirated k is written kh. The 'h' stands for the air stream. Write the symbol for the intial sound in these words:
1. 2. 3. 4.
Answer: To all 4: kh

Frames 9-12 are on tape only.

13. Unaspirated k is written 'k'. in the spaces below write the symbol for the initial consonant sound in these words:
1. 2. 3. 4.
Answer: In each case is k.

Fames 14-17 are on tape only.

18. Listen to these words. If a word begins with aspirated k, write kh opposite its number; if unaspirated k, write k.
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6.
Answers: 1. kh, 2. k, 4. kh, 5. k, 6. kh
19. Read the words below. Check your responses with the tape.
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
9. 10. 11. 12.
20. Write these words:
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
9. 10. 11. 12.
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
9. 10. 11. 12.

Part III Section 6

Frames 1-9 are on tape only.

10. The symbol ch is used to write the initial consonant in these words. The 'c' indicates the sound is made at the hard palate ('the ceiling of the mouth') and the 'h' indicates that there is a stream of air after the 'c'. Write the initial consonant of these words in the spaces below:
1. 2. 3. 4.
The answer in each case above is ch. (Don't forget: 'c' for 'ceiling' and 'h' for aspiration).
11. The initial sound in this Thai word is also made with the tongue on the hard palate (i.e. 'the ceiling' of the mouth).
12. There is no aspiration after the initial consonant.
13. This sound that is made at the hard palate and is without aspiration is written 'c'. Write the initial sound of these words in the space below:
1. 2. 3. 4.
Answers: 1. c 2. c 3. c 4. c

Frames 14-19 are on tape only.

20. Read the following words:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
11. 12. 13. 14. 15.
20. Write the following words in the spaces below:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
11. 12. 13. 14.
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
11. 12. 13. 14.

Part III Section 7

Frames 1-3 are on tape only.

4. You can hear the quality of this sound easily by saying ing several time. This sound is called a velar nasal and is written x in phonetic writing. Please observe that x is like n with a long bent tail on it.
5. The velar nasal / / occurs finally in many English words (bring, sing, etc) and it also occurs medially in some words (singer, etc.), but it never occurs in initial position.
6. This Thai word ends in a velar nasal like bring in English.
7. What sound do these words end in?
Answer:
8. The final sound in these words would be written / /. True or false?
9. These words end in a nasal sound also but not the velar nasal. Listen to these words. What is the final sound?
10. Now you will hear some pairs of words. The first member of the pair ends in the velar nasal, the second in n. Listen to the difference.
11. The velar nasal occurs at the beginning of some Thai words. Listen to these examples.
12. Contrast these words beginning with / / with those beginning with / /.

Frame 13-16 are on tape only.

17. Read the following words:
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
18. Write the following words:
1. 2. 3. 4.
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Part III Section 8

Frames 1-4 are on tape only.

5. If you said 'an old oak' (with clear separation between old and oak), what you said would be written phonetically as follows:
xxx xxx xxx (the symbol xx represents the glottal stop)

Frames 6-9 are on tape only.

10. Being careful to put a glottal stop at the end of each syllable, pronounce the following words when you hear their number:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Note: The glottal stop symbol is not usually written after short vowels since its occurance is predictable.

Part III Section 9

Frames 1-15 are on tape only.

16. Listen to these words and write the final stops (p, t, or k) in the space below:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Answers: 1. p 2. t 3. k 4. p 5. k
6. t 7. k 8. p 9. t 10. k

Part III Section 10

Frames 1-4 are on tape only.

5. Write the final sound of these words in the space below (use x for glottal stop):
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Answers 1. p 2. k 3. 4. t 5.
6. t 7. t 8. 9. p 10.

Frames 6-9 are on the tape only.

10. Write the final sound of these words below:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Answers 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Part IV Section 1

Frames 1-2 are on tape only.

3. The diphthong is made up of two parts:
a as in bah plus a glide like w
It would be written /haw/ in phonetic transcription.

Frames 4-6 are on tape only.

7. The diphthong in this word could be written /aw/. The first part is a and the last part is a w glide.

Frames 8-10 are on tape only.

11. The diphthong in this word could be written aaw. The first part is a long a and the second part is a w glide.
12. The aa and the w glide are about equally loud but the aa is considerably longer than the w glide. This is called a long diphthong.

Frames 13-18 are on tape only.

19. Read the following words:
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
20. Write these words in the space below:
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.

Part IV Section 2

1. This word ends in a diphthong.
2. This diphthong in this word is written / / which means that it begind with an ah sound and end with an 'ee' glide.
3. The ah sound and the ee glide are about equally loud, but the ee glide is longer.

Frames 4-9 are on tape only.

10. The long diphthong in these wrds is written xxx. Write the words you hear below:
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6.
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6.

Frames 11-13 are on tape only.

14. Read the words below and check your responses with the tape:
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6.
15. Write the words you hear below:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Answers: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Part V, Section 1, Frames 1-13 are on tape only.

Part V Section 2

Frames 1-8 are on tape only.

9. A syllable in Thai has 4 parts to it: an initial consonant, a vocalism, an optional final consonant and a pitch contour. Here are examples of each of the types of syllables:
a) Consonant plus long vowel (...)
b) Consonant plus long vowel plus nasal (...)
c) Consonant plus long vowel pus glide (...)
d) Consonant plus long voewl plus stop (...)
e) Consonant plus long vowel plus nasal (...)
f) Consonant plus short vowel plus glide (...)
g) Consonant plus short vowel plus stop (...)

Frames 10-14 are on tape only.

This is the end of the Programmed Introduction to the Thai Phonology.

Reference chart of special symbols used in Thai, basic course

When Thais write Thai they use the regular writing system, which is a rather complex system based on Sanscrit. After you have been studying the spoken language for 6 to 8 weeks, you will begin to learn to read in this system. Since it is fairly difficult to learn regular Thai orthography, it is considered inadvisable to require you to learn it in addition to learning the spoken language at the beginning; therefore, a special system of transcription is used throughout the first volume of the Thai Basic Course.

In this system regular Roman letters plus a few phonetic symbols are used. The system is completely regular, and you will learn to read it rather quickly. In fact, if you have already finished the Programmed Introduction, you may already know most of it.

Please keep in mind that no writing system reflects accurately and precisely the sound system of a language, so rely on your ears and not on any written symbols (including the regular Thai orthography) for the pronunciation of Thai words and sentences.

It will help you understand the summary of the transcription system that follows, if you are aware of 3 conventions that are used in it:

  1. Vowel length is indicated by a doubling of the vowel symbol
  2. An 'h' after an initial consonant indicates that the consonant is 'aspirated', and...
  3. Pitch contours are indicated by placing certain kinds of symbols above vowels; thus paa refers to an 'aspirated p', followed by 'long a', which has a 'high falling' pitch contour.

Reference chart

Symbol Usual English letter Approximate pronunciation
b b similar to English b in Samba.
p p (after- a) like the p in spy (no puff of air after p)
ph p like the p in pie (puff of air after p)
d d similar to English d in Sunday
t t (after s) like the t in sty (no puff of air after t)
th t like the t in tie (puff of air after t)
k k (after s) like the k in ski
kh k like the k in Korea
c .. between English jet and Chet
ch ch between ch in cheat and sh in sheet
r r r as in red may be used rarely (occurs in Bangkok dialect)
l l l as in long
m m m as in me
h h h as in hen
f f f as in fun
s s s as in see
n n n as need
... -ng (only final) like -ng in sing
w w w as in we
j y y as in yet
i i i in sip
ii ee, ea ee as in see
e e e as in pet
ee a, ay a as in made
... a a as in and
... a a as in fan
y .. u in sugar is somewhat similar
yy .. ....
... .. somewhat similar to -er in baker but shorter and without 'r' quality
... .. similar to ... but longer British pronunciation of sir
a u somewhat similar to u in fun
aa a a as in father
u oo oo as in look
uu ou ou as in you
o o o as in cone but shorter
oo o o as in so
... .. ...
... aw aw as in law
iw .. ....
ew .. ..
eew ..
.... .. ..
aw ow ow as in cow
aaw ow ow as in cow (longer than aw)
uj .. ..
ooj .. ..
... ... oy as in toy
... oy oy as in toy (longer than ...)
aj y, i y as in my
aaj y, i y as in my (longer than aj)
ia ee, ie, ee as in beer (without r)
ya .. ..
ua oo oo as in poor (without r)
iaw eo as in Leo
yaj .. ..

Thai tone chart

The shapes, names and symbols used for five significant pitch contours in Thai are given below:

File:Intro-tone-chart-old.jpg