Pronunciation Guide

Transcription Pronunciation

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.

Tone MarkPronunciation
No markNormal 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 /fʉ̀kˑ​hàt/, not fʉ̀ʔˑ​khàt