The scheme used in this course to represent the sounds of Thai using Latin script (plus a few symbols adopted from IPA) is based upon that developed by Mary Haas, and as has been widely adopted (albeit with a number of minor variations).
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.
|/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 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 (currently incomplete) provides a guide to pronunciation.
|/a/||Somewhere between "a" in ran and "u" in run.|
|/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.|
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 are indicated by the presence (or absence) of a mark over the first vowel of a syllable.
|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|
|/ʔ/||Glottal stop - the sound of "t" in "little" and "bottle" when spoken by a Cockney. On this site this sound is usually not written, but is implied. It occurs (a) at the beginning of all syllables that begin with a vowel, and (b) at the end of all syllables which have a short vowel. So, for example, /àan/ is actually pronounced /ʔàan/ and /tó/ is pronounced /tóʔ/|
|/ˑ/||Used to separate syllables. On this site this is mostly not written. However, it can help avoid ambiguity. For example, the verb "to drill, practise)" /fʉ̀khàt/ is pronounced /fʉ̀kˑhàt/, not fʉ̀ʔˑkhàt|