Transcription Guide

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Transcription Guide

Consonants

The consonants /b/, /d/, /f/, /h/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /r/, /s/, /w/ and /y/ are pronounced very closely to the corresponding sounds in English.


The following consonants, however, require further explanation. Any guide to pronunciation can only be approximate.


Consonant Pronunciation
/c/ Similar to "j" in John or joke
/ch/ Similar to "ch" in champion or chess
/k/ Similar to "g" in go or give (though a little "harder")
/kh/ Similar to "kh" in khaki or khazi
/ŋ/ Similar to "ng" in sing or bong
/p/ Similar to "p" in spin or spot. (Unaspirated.)
/ph/ Similar to "p" in piss or poor
/t/ Similar to "t" in stop or still. (Unaspirated.)
/th/ Similar to "th" in Thailand or "t" in tank

Vowels

Vowels in Thai can be "short" or "long". Long vowels are represented here by repeating the vowel symbol. So, for example, /a/ is a short vowel, and /aa/ the corresponding long one.


The following table provides a guide to pronunciation.


Vowel Pronunciation
/a/ Somewhere between "a" in ran and "u" in run. Note that where there is a high or low tone mark the vowel is followed by a glottal stop.
/aa/ Similar to "a" in rather or part
/e/ Similar to "e" in let or get.
/ee/ Similar to "ay" in May or ray.
/ɛ/ Similar to "ai" in pair. Short.
/ɛɛ/ Similar to "ai" in pair. Long.
/ə/ Similar to "er" in number.
/əə/ Similar to "er" in her.
/i/ Similar to "y" in greedy or funny.
/ii/ Similar to "ee" in free or fee.
/o/ Similar to "o" in con or John.
/oo/ Similar to "o" in go or so.
/ɔ/ Similar to "or" in horn or born (but without an "r" sound at the end of the vowel). Short.
/ɔɔ/ Similar to "or" in horn or born (but without an "r" sound at the end of the vowel). Long.
/u/ Similar to "oo" in rook or book.
/uu/ Similar to "oo" in coo.
/ʉ/ No equivalent in English. Similar to "eu" in the French bleu. Short.
/ʉʉ/ No equivalent in English. Similar to "eu" in the French bleu. Long.

Diphthongs

The pronunciation of most diphthongs is simply a sequence of the individual vowel sounds. So, for example /ua/ is pronunced as /u/ + /a/ (similar to "oe" in doer).


Tones

Tones are indicated by the presence (or absence) of a mark over the first vowel of a syllable.


Tone Mark Pronunciation
No mark Normal voice pitch, mid tone
 ́ Higher than normal pitch, rising slightly, high tone
 ̀ Lower than normal pitch, low tone
 ̌ Starting from lower than normal pitch and rising above it, rising tone
 ̂ Starting from higher than normal pitch and falling below it, falling tone


Transcription guide adapted from http://thai-notes.com Used with permission.

Remarks

- On the right side of the title of every lesson (in the lesson pages) there's a checkbox which allows you to show or hide the transcriptions.

- Whenever there are several pronunciations possible for one word, the transcription will try to follow the audio fragments in that lesson. The Thai in these lessons reflects the conventional spelling of the Royal Society Dictionary.

For instance: เขา is written as เขา and not as เค้า. But in the transcriptions you'll find kháw, as it's pronounced in the audio fragments.

- The concept of "words" in Thai is not as clear as in English. For instance "ห้องเรียนภาษาไทย" could be considered as 1, 2, 3 or 4 words. The division into words in the transcriptions (and spacing according to this division) is based on a dictionary with transcriptions. We don't claim our choice is the only possible or only correct way to divide sentences into words.

- The transcriptions in this course take into account syllable stress and will show the pronunciation as used in normal speech (thus not as in dictation style speech).

For instance: ทหาร is transcribed as thahǎan and not as tháhǎan