Much of the religious and technical vocabulary of Thai has been taken from Sanskrit and Pali.
Now, whereas Thai only has one "ess−type" sound, Sanskrit has three, usually represented as: ś, ṣ and s.
In Thai effort is made for loanwords to preserve as much of the spelling of the original language
as possible. That meant the creation of two additional characters to represent ś and ṣ. Both are
pronounced in the same way as ส, namely /s/ at the start of a syllable, and /t/ at the end, and
both are high class, like ส.
The new consonants are:
Sala (open−sided pavillion)
Contrast with บ
These consonants are referred to as "irregular consonants" because they are not used to write
native Thai words. All the consonants previously encountered in this course have been
Another problem with loanwords is that sometimes consonants at the ends of syllables
are either unpronounced in the original language (e.g. "r" in "bar"), or can't be
pronounced in Thai (e.g. the "s" in "physics"). As Thai tries to preserve the original spelling of
loanwords, the unpronounced and unpronouncable characters are retained in the spelling,
but a mark, known as /thanˑthaˑkhâat/ (or, less formally, as /kaaˑran/. So,
bar is written บาร์ (pronounced /baa/), and "physics" is written ฟิสิกส์ (pronounced /fíˑsìk/).
The consonants silenced have no effect whatsoever on the pronunciation of the remaining
part of the word, so in อาจารย์ (/aaˑcaan/, teacher) ร is pronounced as if it were at the
end of the syllable, and is pronounced /n/.
Here are some words to practice reading:
โบสถ์\/bòot/\ordination hall in a Buddhist temple\1^
องค์\/oŋ/\classifier for kings, princes, princesses, priests, images of Buddha, gods, palaces, pagodas\1^
Sometimes it's more than just the final consonant that's silenced.
If there's a vowel associated with the final consonant, it's silenced too.
So, for example, in ศักดิ์ (ability), both ด and ◌ิ are silenced, and the word
is pronounced /sàk/.
Also, if after the final consonant is silenced what is left doesn't make "sense"
the preceding consonant will be silenced, too. For example:
And sometimes you just have to "know" that the previous syllable is silenced. For example:
Finally, sometimes ◌์ will appear in the middle of a syllable − most commonly r/ร and l/ล − in
words taken from English, e.g. ฟอร์ม (/fɔɔm/, form) and ปาล์ม (/paam/, palm).
Here are some words to read covering all these types: