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Lesson Transcript

Ryan: Pronunciation, Lesson 5 - Don’t stress about learning Thai intonation. [sà-wàt-dii kráp]
Rawinporn: [sà-wàt-dii khâ]
Ryan: And welcome to the last chapter of the Pronunciation Series. What will we be covering in this lesson?
Rawinporn: In this lesson we’ll be talking about intonation in Thai.
Ryan: Well, this might be a nightmare for you, but I'm sure that if you practice, it’s not difficult at all.
Rawinporn: Yes, give yourself some time to practice Thai intonation. I'm sure everyone can do it.
Ryan: Well, shall we?

Lesson focus

Rawinporn: Sure. Unlike English, there is no stress on Thai words.
Ryan: On the contrary, Thai is a tonal language. There are five tones: mid, low, falling, high and rising.
Rawinporn: For example, [khaa khàa khâa kháa khăa].
Ryan: Right. Again, [khaa khàa khâa kháa khăa].
Rawinporn: Can you hear any difference?
Ryan: Ok, let’s go one by one.
Rawinporn: The first one is the middle tone - [khaa].
Ryan: [khaa] means “to be stuck to”.
Rawinporn: Next is the low tone - [khàa].
Ryan: [khàa] means “galangal”.
Rawinporn: Next is the falling tone - [khâa]. The falling tone starts as a high pitch and then quickly drops.
Ryan: [khâa] means “to kill”.
Rawinporn: That’s scary. Next is the high tone - [kháa].
Ryan: [kháa] means “to sell”.
Rawinporn: The last one is the rising tone -[khăa].
Ryan: [khăa] means “leg”. The rising tone actually deeps down slightly before rising sharply. [khăa]
Rawinporn: Again, [khaa khàa khâa kháa khăa].
Ryan: Let’s move on to another example.
Rawinporn: Sure, that is…
Ryan: [maa màa mâa máa măa]
Rawinporn: Let’s do it one by one again.
Ryan: Sure. The first one is the mid tone [maa].
Rawinporn: This means “to come”.
Ryan: Next is the low tone - [màa].
Rawinporn: Only [màa] has no meaning, but if you add [bprà] in front, it becomes [bprà-màa] which means “bashful”.
Ryan: The next one is the falling tone. [mâa]
Rawinporn: [mâa] For example, [maa-mâa]. It’s a brand of instant noodle. Since it is very famous, some Thais would say [gin maa-mâa], which means they eat instant noodles. Just like you say, Kleenex instead of facial tissue paper.
Ryan: Oh ok, I got it. And in some Thai-Chinese families, they call grandma [aa-mâa], isn’t that right?
Rawinporn: Exactly, because there are a lot of Thai-Chinese people in Bangkok, therefore the word [aa-mâa] is very common.
Ryan: Ok. The next one is the high tone - [máa]
Rawinporn: [máa] means “horse”.
Ryan: I heard that horse racing in Thailand is quite popular.
Rawinporn: Yeah, I guess so. It’s a kind of legal gambling game.
Ryan: I see. And the last one is the rising tone - [măa].
Rawinporn: [măa] means “dog”.
Ryan: Please be careful, [máa] and [măa] are quite close in pronunciation, but there’s a big difference in meaning.
Rawinporn: Yeah, there is.


Ryan: Well, that does it for the Pronunciation Series.
Rawinporn: Now you’re on your way to having great Thai pronunciation.
Ryan: Don’t forget to keep repeating and practicing. And see you next time.
Rawinporn: [sà-wàt-dii khâ]
Ryan: [sà-wàt-dii kráp]


Please to leave a comment.
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ThaiPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 05:13 AM
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สวัสดี เดวิด,

Thank you for your feedback. I will forward it to our team for consideration.

If you have any further feedback or questions, we are glad to assist.

Good luck with your language studies.

Kind regards,

เลเว็นเต้ (Levente)

Team ThaiPod101.com

Friday at 02:57 AM
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It would have been helpful to have the Thai script for each term included in the lesson notes.

Vincent Deng
Monday at 02:03 AM
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[khăa] means “leg”. The rising tone actually deeps down slightly before rising sharply. [khăa]

I think what Ryan meant was dips down instead of deeps down, right?

ThaiPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 04:46 PM
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Hello Claire,

Thank you very much for your comment and question. I'm not quite sure, we did show how to pronounce 5 tones in Thai within this lesson. This are tone mark that we written above vowel in every words "khaa khàa khâa kháa khăa" , it show all five tones. Do you mean we not written in Thai script? Please let me know if you need future help. I will be glad to help you.

Have a nice day.


Team ThaiPod101.com

Monday at 10:15 PM
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Why doesn't this lesson show the Thai tones' accent marks as written?

ThaiPod101.com Verified
Monday at 10:51 PM
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Hello Jing,

Thank you very much for your comment. We glad you like our Thai lessons. For your question, if your name is a middle tone then it should be "จิง" J sound. for 4 others tone "จิ่ง","จิ้ง","จิ๊ง" and "จิ๋ง" depend on whicth tones you say your name. Your welcome for any future questions.

Have a good day. :)


Team ThaiPod101.com

Jing (Kaede)
Friday at 07:08 PM
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The intonation is what I love about Thai~

I am Chinese in Malaysia. I am Hakka (Dialect).

Most people who can speak Hakka will feel that Thai sounds like Hakka!!

And I think that Chinese who speak Mandarin will pick up Thai very fast as they are similar in some occasion such as numbering.

I am happy to be here!

This is a very good site for me to learn Thai!

Thanks to Rawinporn and Ryan!!~~~

I will keep on learning!

ps: May I know to write Ching in Thai? (My name 'Jing' sounds more like in between ch- and J- in Thai, it is ch- but without air blowing out from mouth.... So how should it be?)

khàawp-khun mâak khâ

Tuesday at 10:29 AM
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It should be titled Thai tones instead of Thai intonation. Intonation is used to describe when somebody changes his pitch to indicate change in emotion or to change a statement to a question. Tone indicates when a pitch is changed to distinguish words.