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Thai Alphabet

Thai Alphabet

Thai alphabet (ตัวอักษรไทย)

Origin

The Thai alphabet was probably derived from, or at least influenced by, the Old Khmer alphabet. According to tradition it was created in 1283 by King Ramkhamhaeng (พ่อขุนรามคำแหงมหาราช).

Notable features

  • This is a syllabic alphabet consisting of 44 basic consonants, each with an inherent vowel: [o] in medial position and [a] in final position. The [a] is usually found in words of Sanskrit, Pali or Khmer origin while the [o] is found native Thai words. The 18 other vowels and 6 diphthongs are indicated using diacritics which appear in front of, above, below of after the consonants they modify.
  • 8 of the letters are used only for writing words of Pali and Sanskrit origin.
  • For some consonants there are multiple letters. Originally they represented separate sounds, but over the years the distinction between those sounds was lost and the letters were used instead to indicate tones.
  • Thai is a tonal language with 5 tones. The tone of a syllable is determined by a combination of the class of consonant, the type of syllable (open or closed), the tone marker and the length of the vowel.
  • There are no spaces between words, instead spaces in a Thai text indicate the end of a clause or sentence.

Used to write

Thai (ภาษาไทย), a Tai-Kadai language spoken by about 25 million people in Thailand (ประเทศไทย), the Midway Islands, Singapore, the UAE and the USA

Thai alphabet (ตัวอักษรไทย)

Consonants (พยัญชนะ)

Consonants are divided into three classes: 1 (green), 2 (red) and 3 (blue), which help to determine the tone of a syllable. The sounds represented by some consonants change when they are used at the end of a syllable (indicated by the letters on the right of the slash below). Some consonants can only be used at the beginning of a syllable.

 

 

The consonants in the final row are compounds used as alternatives to the basic consonants.

The letter o ang acts as a silent vowel carrier at the beginning of words that start with a vowel.

Vowel diacritics (รูปสระ)

 

Numerals (ตัวเลขไทย)

 

 

Tone indication

 

Sample text in Thai

 

 

Transliteration

Raw thuk khon kə̄t mā yāṅ isara raw thuk khon mī khwāmkhit lŠ khwām khawčai pen khɔ̄ṅ raw ēṅ raw thuk khon khwan dairâp kān patibāti nai thāṅ diyawkân.

Translation

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

 

Last modified: 4/5/2007 9:30 AM by by J. Clark

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