Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Thai alphabet (ตัวอักษรไทย) is used to write the Thai language (ภาษาไทย) and other minority languages in Thailand. It has forty-four consonants (พยัญชนะ), twenty-eight vowel forms (รูปสระ) and four tone marks (วรรณยุกต์). The consonants are written horizontally from left to right, while the vowels are arranged above, below, to the left or to the right of the corresponding consonant.
Unlike the Roman alphabet, the Thai alphabet does not distinguish minuscule and majuscule letters. It is usually written with no space between words, which is facilitated by the fact that most Thai words have only one syllable. The end of sentences is marked by a space.
The Thai alphabet is probably derived from the Old Khmer (อักขระเขมร) script, which is a southern Brahmic script of the Indic family. According to tradition it was created in 1283 by King Ramkhamhaeng the Great (พ่อขุนรามคำแหงมหาราช).
You will need a Unicode-capable browser and font that contains the Thai alphabet to view the Thai letters below.
There are 44 consonants representing 21 distinct consonant sounds. Duplicate consonants represent different Sanskrit and Pali consonants pronounced identically in Thai. Their continued use is necessary to differentiate among unrelated loan-words which are Thai homophones. The consonants are divided into three classes - low, middle and high - which determine the tone of the following vowel. There are in addition four consonant-vowel combination characters not included in the tally of 44.
To aid learning, each consonant is traditionally associated with a Thai word that either starts with the same sound, or features it prominently. For example, the name of the letter ข is khor khai (ข ไข่), in which khor is the sound it represents, and khai (ไข่) is a word which starts with the same sound and means "egg".
Two of the consonants (khor khuat and khor khon) aren't used in written Thai anymore. Some say that when the first Thai typewriter was developed by Edwin Hunter McFarland in 1892, there was simply no space for all characters, thus two had to be left out.
Equivalents for Romanization are shown in the table below. Many consonants are pronounced differently at the beginning and at the end of a syllable. The entries in columns initial and final indicate the pronunciation for that consonant in the corresponding positions in a syllable. Where the entry is "-", the consonant may not be used to close a syllable. Where a combination of consonants ends a written syllable, only the first is pronounced; possible closing consonant sounds are limited to 'k', 'm', 'n', 'ng', 'p' and 't'.
Although an official standard for Romanisation is defined by the Royal Thai Institute, many publications use different Romanisation systems. In daily practice a bewildering variety of Romanisations is used, making it difficult to know how to pronounce a word, or to judge if two words (e.g. on a map and a street sign) are actually the same. For more precise information, an equivalent from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is given as well.
Each consonant is assigned to a "class" (Low, Middle, High), which plays a role in determining the tone with which the syllable is pronounced.
|ก||kor kai (chicken)||k||k||k||M|
|ข||khor khai (egg)||kh||k||kʰ||k||H|
|ฃ||khor khuat (bottle) [obsolete]||kh||k||kʰ||k||H|
|ค||khor khwaai (water buffalo)||kh||k||kʰ||k||L|
|ฅ||khor khon (person) [obsolete]||kh||k||kʰ||k||L|
|ฆ||khor ra-khang (bell)||kh||k||kʰ||k||L|
|ง||ngor nguu (snake)||ng||ng||ŋ||ŋ||L|
|จ||jor jaan (plate)||j||t||c||t||M|
|ฉ||chor ching (cymbals)||ch||-||tʃ||-||H|
|ช||chor chaang (elephant)||ch||t||tʃ||t||L|
|ซ||sor soo (chain)||s||t||s||t||L|
|ฌ||chor choe (bush)||ch||-||tʃ||-||L|
|ญ||yor ying (woman)||y||n||j||n||L|
|ฎ||dor chadaa (headdress)||d||t||d||t||M|
|ฏ||tor patak (goad)||t||t||t||t||M|
|ฐ||thor santhaan (base)||th||t||tʰ||t||H|
|ฑ||thor naangmonthoo (dancer)||th||t||tʰ||t||L|
|ฒ||thor phuuthao (old person)||th||t||tʰ||t||L|
|ณ||nor neen (novice monk)||n||n||n||n||L|
|ด||dor dek (child)||d||t||d||t||M|
|ต||tor tao (turtle)||t||t||t||t||M|
|ถ||thor thung (sack)||th||t||tʰ||t||H|
|ท||thor thahaan (soldier)||th||t||tʰ||t||L|
|ธ||thor thong (flag)||th||t||tʰ||t||L|
|น||nor nuu (mouse)||n||n||n||n||L|
|บ||bor baimaai (leaf)||b||p||b||p||M|
|ป||por plaa (fish)||p||p||p||p||M|
|ผ||phor phueng (bee)||ph||-||pʰ||-||H|
|ฝ||for faa (lid)||f||-||f||-||H|
|พ||phor phaan (tray)||ph||p||pʰ||p||L|
|ฟ||for fan (teeth)||f||p||f||p||L|
|ภ||phor samphao (sailboat)||ph||p||pʰ||p||L|
|ม||mor maa (horse)||m||m||m||m||L|
|ย||yor yak (ogre)||y||y||j||j||L|
|ร||ror ruea (boat)||r||n||r||n||L|
|ฤ||ror rue (short) *||rue||-||rɨ||-||-|
|ฤๅ||ror rue (long) *||rue||-||rɨː||-||-|
|ล||lor ling (monkey)||l||n||l||n||L|
|ฦ||lor lue (short) *||lue||-||lɨ||-||-|
|ฦๅ||lor lue (long) *||lue||-||lɨː||-||-|
|ว||wor waen (ring)||w||w||w||w||L|
|ศ||sor saalaa (pavilion)||s||t||s||t||H|
|ษ||sor reusii (hermit)||s||t||s||t||H|
|ส||sor seua (tiger)||s||t||s||t||H|
|ห||hor hiip (chest)||h||-||h||-||H|
|ฬ||lor julaa (kite)||l||n||l||n||L|
|อ||or aang (basin)||**||-||ʔ||-||M|
|ฮ||hor nok-huuk (owl)||h||-||h||-||L|
* Consonant-vowel combination characters, not members of any group.
** อ is a special case in that at the beginning of a word it is used as a silent initial for syllables that start with a vowel (all vowels are written relative to a consonant — see below).
Thai vowel sounds and diphthongs are written using a mixture of vowel symbols, consonants, and combinations of vowel symbols. Each vowel is shown in its correct position relative to an initial consonant (indicated by a dash "–") and sometimes a final consonant as well (second dash). Note that vowels can go above, below, left of or right of the consonant; some are written with symbols to both the left and right of the consonant; and if the syllable starts with a consonant cluster, they are two positions to the left of the consonant whose sound precedes the vowel. The Romanisation of the International Phonetic Alphabet is given, as well as the Royal Thai Institute and several variant Romanisations often encountered.
Sounds are very approximate equivalents in Northeastern US English.
|–||implied a||a||a||a, u||u in "nut"|
|– –||implied o||o||o||oa in "boat"|
|–รร–||ror han *||ɑ||a||u||u in "nut"|
|–ว–||wor waen *||ua||ua||uar||ewe in "newer"|
|–อ||sara or *||ɔː||o||aw, ow||aw in "saw"|
|–ะ||sara a||aʔ||a||u||u in "nut"|
|–ั –||mai han-akaat||ɑ||a||u||u in "nut"|
|–ัว||sara ua||ua||ua||ewer||ewe in "newer"|
|–ัวะ||sara uah||uaʔ||ua||ewer||ewe in "sewer"|
|–า||sara aa||aː||a||aa||a in "father"|
|–ำ||sara am||ɑm||am||um||um in "sum"|
|–ิ||sara i||i||i||y in "greedy"|
|–ี||sara ii||iː||i||ii, ee, y||ee in "see"|
|–ึ||sara eu||ɨ||ue||eu, uh||u in French "du" (short)|
|–ื||sara euu||ɨː||ue||eu||u in French "dur" (long)|
|–ุ||sara u||u||u||oo||oo in "look"|
|–ู||sara uu||uː||u||uu, oo||ue in "sue"|
|เ–||sara e||eː||e||ay, a, ae, ai||a in "lame"|
|เ–็ –||sara e||e||e||e in "neck"|
|เ–ะ||sara eh||eʔ||e||eh||e in "neck"|
|เ–อ||sara oe||əː||oe||eu, u||u in "burn"|
|เ–อะ||sara oe||əʔ||oe||eu, u||e in "the"|
|เ–ิ –||sara oe||ə||oe||eu, u||e in "the"|
|เ–า||sara ao||ao||ao||aw, ow||ow in "cow"|
|เ–าะ||sara orh||ɔʔ||o||orh, oh, or||o in "not"|
|เ–ีย||sara ia||ia||ia||ear, ere||ea in "ear"|
|เ–ียะ||sara iah||iaʔ||ia||iah, ear||ea in "ear" with
|เ–ียว||sara iao||io||iao||iow||io in "trio"|
|เ–ือ||sara uea||ɨːa||uea||eua, ua||ure io in "pure"|
|แ–||sara ae||æː||ae||a, e||a in "ham"|
|แ–ะ||sara aeh||æʔ||ae||aeh, a||a in "at"|
|โ–||sara o||oː||o||oh, or||o in "go"|
|โ–ะ||sara oh||oʔ||o||oh||o in "poke"|
|ใ–||sara ai mai muan||ɑj||ai||ay, y||i in "I"|
|ไ–||sara ai mai malai||ɑj||ai||ay, y||i in "I"|
* vowels or diphthongs written with consonant symbols
Each mark is shown in its correct location relative to the consonant kor kai. The names of the tones are derived from the numbers one, two, three and four in an Indic language.
|ก่||mai ek||tone mark|
|ก้||mai tho||tone mark|
|ก๊||mai trii||tone mark|
|ก๋||mai jattawaa||tone mark|
|ก็||mai taikhuu||shortens vowel|
|ก์||mai thantakhaat||indicates silent letter|
|ฯ||paiyaan noi||preceding word is abbreviated|
|ๆ||mai yamok||preceding word or phrase is repeated|
Thai in computing
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