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Lesson Transcript

Ryan: All about Thai lesson 2 - Cracking the Thai Writing System. Hey everyone. Welcome. In this lesson, Rawinporn and I are going to explain a little bit more about one of the most unique aspects of Thai language, the writing system.
Rawinporn: That's right. There are a lot of things that we are going to cover in this lesson.
Ryan: Definitely. The Thai writing system has actually been called The World's Most Complex, but we are here to make the trip through it easy and. Let's start with the basics.
Rawinporn: The Thai alphabet consists of 44 consonants.
Ryan: Wow, that's a lot. But similar to English. Thai uses letters.
Rawinporn: Exactly. Duplicate consonants represent different Sanskrit and Pali consonants pronounce identically in Thai.
Ryan: That's because Thai writing was based on the Sanskrit alphabet developed in ancient India.
Rawinporn: Right! We only write horizontally left to right with no intervening spaces to form syllables, words and sentences. Spaces in the Thai text appear only at the end of a course or the sentence.
Ryan: I heard that the Thai script is quite similar to the Lao's script. Is that true?
Rawinporn: Yeah. Thai script is really similar to the old Lao's script, but modern Lao's script is more concise and more phonetic. We can guess the content, but not 100%.
Ryan: Okay. Let's talk about intonation, which you mentioned in the previous lesson. Can you tell us more about it?
Rawinporn: Sure. Tai is a tonal language with five tones, mid, low, falling high, and rising. For example: kha, khà, khâ, khá, khǎ.
Ryan: I beg your pardon.
Rawinporn: kha, khà, khâ, khá, khǎ.
Ryan: That sounds all the same to me.
Rawinporn: I know it's quite difficult for foreigners to pronounce these five different tones, but if you practice more, I'm sure everyone can do it.
Ryan: How about the spelling? All these five words look pretty similar to me.
Rawinporn: Even though the spelling is the same, the accent mark are added above giving different tones and indicating different meanings of words. For kha, khà, khâ, khá, khǎ, the first word kha means “stuck in the middle.”
Ryan: And that's the mid tone.
Rawinporn: Exactly! The second word is khà, which means “galangal”. Do you know galangal?
Ryan: Sure. It's one of the Tom Yum ingredients.
Rawinporn: You're good. Ka represents the low tone.
Ryan: And the next one?
Rawinporn: khâ, with the falling sound, means “I” In the old Thai language, or it means “kill.”
Ryan: Oh, okay. How about the next one?
Rawinporn: khá, Yes. khá means "sell." This represents the high tone.
Ryan: And less, but not least,
Rawinporn: khǎ means "lake." This is the rising tone.
Ryan: So altogether?
Rawinporn: kha, khà, khâ, khá, khǎ
Ryan: kha, khà, khâ, khá, khǎ
Rawinporn: Yes. You did a very good job.
Ryan: Thanks.
Rawinporn: Let's talk more about the Thai writing system. Even though the Arabic numeric system is also very common, some places use only Thai numerals.
Ryan: For example,
Rawinporn: if you drive in Thailand, most of the signs on freeway are written in the Thai numeral system. Therefore, you better memorize the set of Thai numerals as well.
Ryan: Are you ready to quiz yourself on what you have just learned? Now we are going to give you a quiz about the Thai writing system. Are you ready? In Thai, How can we distinguish that words are different in tone?
Rawinporn: The accent mark is added above giving different tones and indicating different meanings of the words.
Ryan: The Thai writing system might sound complicated, but it really isn't that bad. A lot of people really have fun learning it, so learn it with us here, at ThaiPod101.com. See you next time.
Rawinporn: sà-wàt-dii khâ.