Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Ryan: Pronunciation, Lesson 1 - Thai consonants on parade. Welcome back to ThaiPod101.com.
Rawinporn: [สวัสดีค่ะ]
Ryan: [สวัสดีครับ] And welcome to our Pronunciation Series. In this lesson we’re going to start with the basics and slowly work our way up.

Lesson focus

Rawinporn: That’s right. First we’ll talk about what Thai sounds are made of.
Ryan: Well Thai has a wide variety of sounds compared with other languages.
Rawinporn: Yes. There are 44 consonants with 21 sounds in Thai.
Ryan: And there are 21 vowels (vowel symbols) with 32 (vowel) sounds. In Thai, there are no words that have clusters of three or more consonants such as the English word “strength”. Vowels are attached to consonants to form syllables. Can we hear some examples of how typical Thai words sound like?
Rawinporn: For example, [ข้าวเหนียว]. It means “sticky rice”.
Ryan: So there are two syllables in this word - [ข้าว] and [เหนียว]. Each one is made up of a consonant and a vowel. Can we have another one?
Rawinporn: Sure. [โทรศัพท์]. It means “telephone”.
Ryan: So this one is made up three syllables.
Rawinporn: Let’s get back to the consonants. There are many consonants with the same English pronunciation, while many differences exist.
Ryan: As mentioned before, Thai has 44 consonants with 21 sounds. The alphabet and the order of the letters was derived from the Sanskrit alphabet originating in Ancient India. All of the Sanskrit letters were kept so that words of Sanskrit, [Pali (from the audio, it’s not a Thai word but an english word)] and [Khmer(this is also an english word too)] origin could keep their proper spellings, even though Thai speakers didn’t pronounce the full range of Sanskrit sounds. That’s why the Thai alphabet has so many letters that sound the same.
Rawinporn: Each consonant name is made up of the sound it makes and the word starting with that letter. Some consonant names represent Sanskrit words. Some represent words of [Pali] and [Khmer] origin, and some represent native Thai words.
Ryan: I think 44 consonants is a lot. Why don’t we do half and half? Let’s start with the first 22 consonants in this lesson.
Rawinporn: Good idea.
Ryan: Ok, let’s start with the first consonant which is…
Rawinporn: [กอไก่] means “chicken”.
Ryan: [กอไก่] It’s a harder sound than in English, somewhere between G and K.
Rawinporn: Next, [ขอไข่].
Ryan: [ขอขวด] means “bottle”.
Rawinporn: This consonant, [ขอขวด], is not used anymore.
Ryan: Next, [คอควาย]. [คอควาย] means “water buffalo”.
Rawinporn: Yes, and it can be bad word as well. If you call someone [ควาย] it means that person is very, very dumb. So please be careful.
Ryan: Next, [คอคน]. [คอคน] means “person”. Anyway, this consonant is not used anymore either.
Rawinporn: Yes. Then we have [คอระคัง]. [ระคัง] means “bell”.
Ryan: The next one is quite difficult for some people - [งองู]. [งู] means “snake”. In English the NG sound only comes in the middle or end of words, like the word “singing”. In Thai, it can begin words. You can practice this sound by dropping the SI from the beginning of “singing” and just say “nging”, “nging”, “nging”. It’s pretty fun to do.
Rawinporn: Ok, next - [จอจาน]. [จาน] means “plate”.
Ryan: The next one is [ฉอฉิ่ง]. [ฉิ่ง] means “little hand cymbals”, the ones that make the sound ching, ching, ching when you hit them together.
Rawinporn: Yes. And then [ชอช้าง]. [ช้าง] means “elephant”.
Ryan: Then [ซโซ่]. [โซ่] means “chain”.
Rawinporn: Are you getting tired? We’ve already come halfway.
Ryan: Woo-hoo! Next, [ชอกะเชอ]. [เชอ] means “bush”.
Rawinporn: That’s a very old word. I don’t even know the meaning.
Ryan: Ok. Next, [ยอหญิง]. [หญิง] means “woman”. [หญิง] is also a popular nickname for a girl.
Rawinporn: Right, many of my friends are named [หญิง] as well. Next we have [ดอชะดา].
Ryan: Then we have [ตอปะตัก]. [ปะตัก] is a “goad” that you use to drive a water buffalo with.
Rawinporn: [ตอปะตัก] is a hard sound between T and D.
Ryan: Just like the TY at the end of 20. In Thailand, you’ll often see this sound written with just a T on street signs, for example. But to avoid the temptation to mispronounce it, we’ll transcribe it as DT in the lesson notes.
Rawinporn: Next is [ถอสันถาน]. [ถาน] means [base].
Ryan: Ok.
Rawinporn: Next is [ถอสันถาน]. [ถาน] means [base], like a [base] of a statue.
Ryan: Ok. Then [ทอนามนโท], which means “dancer”.
Rawinporn: And then [ทอผู้เท่า], which means “old person”. You might notice that this three consonants sound exactly the same.
Ryan: Yes, they do. And we write this sound with TH, just like in the word “Thai”.
Rawinporn: Next is…
Ryan: [นอเณร]. [เณร] means “novice monk”.
Rawinporn: [ดอเด็ก]. [เด็ก] means “child”.
Ryan: Then [ตอเต่า]. [เต่า] means “turtle”. This makes the same sound we saw earlier, halfway between D and T.
Rawinporn: And the last one for this lesson is…
Ryan: [ถอถุง]. [ถุง] means “sack”.
Rawinporn: Alright, so we’ve covered the first 22 Thai consonants.


Ryan: Make sure to practice these over and over until you really get the hang of them. The best way to improve pronunciation is through practice.
Rawinporn: So keep practicing.
Ryan: And see you next time at the Thai Pronunciation Series.
Rawinporn: [สวัสดีค่ะ]
Ryan: [สวัสดีครับ]