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Lesson Transcript


Hi everybody! Jay here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Thai questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: How do I read the middle tone of Thai?
Thai is a lexical tone language. This means that knowing how to read and say each tones correctly will be useful as different tones can completely change the word’s meaning. For example, ไม่ mâi (“no”) and ไม้ mái (“wood”) sound quite similar but have very different meaning. We’ll explore all of the tones in upcoming lessons, but today we’ll learn the most basic tone. This is the middle tone. The transliteration of the middle tone contain no marks.
The middle tone is the simplest one to read and say. In Thai we call it เสียงสามัญ (sĭiang săa-man). Just like the name, the best way to tackle this tone is to speak in your normal vocal range. You don’t need to put stress on any pitch when saying words in this tone. Basically, words in this tone are said in a constant pitch. For example, let’s consider our example at the very beginning of this lesson. If it’s in middle tone, it’ll be ไมค์ mai (“microphone”) (*insert constant arrow to illustrate the pitch* →). Another example is ไปกินกัน bpai gin gan (“let’s go eat”). You can see that in this sentence, all of the words are in middle tone. There are no tone remarks on any of these words. When you say the phrase, there’s no stress on any pitch. Here are some other examples: ในนามีอีกา nai naa mii ii-gaa. (“The farm has crows.”) มานีไปโรงเรียน maa-nii bpai roong riian. (“Manii goes to school.”) All of these are in constant pitch.


Pretty interesting, right?
If you have any more questions, please leave a comment below!
Bye! สวัสดี ค่ะ (sà-wàt-dii khâ)