Finding the Tone of a Thai Syllable

Finding the Tone of a Thai Syllable… Thai children can apply the tone rules long before they can explain them. This is because they learn...

Finding the Tone of a Thai Syllable

Amazing Thailand: ThailandOnly SongkranThailand?

Amazing Thailand: ThailandOnly SongkranThailand?… I don’t know what to think about the Songkran marketing push from...

Amazing Thailand: ThailandOnly SongkranThailand?

Thai Language Thai Culture: A “G” Rated Look at Thai Sex Words

A “G” Rated Look at Thai Sex Words… Thai, like any other robust language, has lots and lots of words...

Thai Language Thai Culture: A “G” Rated Look at Thai Sex Words

Mixed Messages: Is Thailand Suing Singapore for Stealing Songkran?

Is Thailand Suing Singapore for Stealing Songkran?… I don’t know about you but I’m bored bored...

Mixed Messages: Is Thailand Suing Singapore for Stealing Songkran?
Finding the Tone of a Thai Syllable

Finding the Tone of a Thai Syllable

Finding the Tone of a Thai Syllable… Thai children can apply the tone rules long before they can explain them. This is because they learn words in groups with similar characteristics. For instance, the group of words ending in “p” (บ, ป, พ, ภ) and starting with a low class consonant. When they meet a […]

Thai Language Thai Culture: A “G” Rated Look at Thai Sex Words

Thai Language Thai Culture: A “G” Rated Look at Thai Sex Words

A “G” Rated Look at Thai Sex Words… Thai, like any other robust language, has lots and lots of words for “sex” and all the stuff associated with it. And in Thailand, for various reasons, discussions of this topic are quite frequently encountered. But just like with any language, the words used in discussing this […]

Successful Thai Language Learner: Luke Bauer

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Amazing Thailand: ThailandOnly SongkranThailand?

Amazing Thailand: ThailandOnly SongkranThailand?

Amazing Thailand: ThailandOnly SongkranThailand?… I don’t know what to think about the Songkran marketing push from TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand): Amazing Thailand: #ThailandOnly #SongkranThailand. Google+ Community Official Community from Tourism Authority of Thailand ร่วมแชร์ภาพสงกรานต์ทั่วไทย ด้วย #SongkranThailand #ThailandOnly Official Community from Tourism Authority of Thailand Share Songkran Festival of Thailand to the world with #SongkranThailand […]

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Is Thailand Suing Singapore for Stealing Songkran?… I don’t know about you but I’m bored bored bored with the political protests in Thailand. Go home already! Just recently Kaewmala started reminiscing about the good ‘ole days when we would poke fun at the hilarious antics of Thailand’s Ministry of Culture instead. Do you remember when […]

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Finding the Tone of a Thai Syllable

Finding the Tone of a Thai Syllable

Finding the Tone of a Thai Syllable…

Thai children can apply the tone rules long before they can explain them. This is because they learn words in groups with similar characteristics. For instance, the group of words ending in “p” (บ, ป, พ, ภ) and starting with a low class consonant. When they meet a new word, they automatically know the correct group and therefor will know the tones to use.

Knowing Thai tone rules is important if you intend to speak Thai clearly. Sometimes reading through the rules helps, but for others charts make more sense. I’ve included both in this post.

In Thai there are three kinds of consonants:

  1. low class: ค,ฅ,ฆ,ง,ช,ซ,ฌ,ญ,ฑ,ฒ,ณ,ท,ธ,น,พ,ฟ,ภ,ม,ย,ร,ล,ว,ฬ,ฮ
  2. mid class: ก,จ,ฎ,ฏ,ด,ต,บ,ป,อ
  3. high class: ข,ฃ,ฉ,ฐ,ถ,ผ,ฝ,ศ,ษ,ส,ห

You best remember the mid and the high class consonants – the low class are all the rest.

In Thai there are two kinds of vowels:

  1. short vowels: -ั, -ิ, -ุ, -ึ and ฤ. And all vowels with ะ or -็ in them.
  2. long vowels: all the rest

In Thai there are two kinds of syllables:

  1. dead syllable: ends a short vowel or on a p t or k sound.
  2. live syllable: all the rest

In Thai there are four tones marks:

  1. -่ : normally indicates a low tone
  2. -้ : normally indicated a falling tone
  3. -๊ : normally indicates a high tone
  4. -๋ : normally indicates a rising tone

The Thai tone rules…

If the syllable has a tone mark:

  • follow the tone mark
    • exception: the first consonant is low class: take the next tone

If the syllable doesn’t have a tone mark:

  • and the syllable is a life syllable: mid tone
    • exception: the first consonant is high class: rising tone
  • and the syllable is dead: low tone
    • exception: the first consonant is low class
      • and the syllable has a short vowel: high tone
      • and the syllable has a long vowel: falling tone

Chart of the Thai tone rules…

Thai Tone Chart

Download pdf: Finding the Tone of a Thai Syllable
Download jpg: Thai Tone Chart

Kris Willems

Do you have questions about the quirks of the Thai language?
Send them over and we’ll do our best.

Amazing Thailand: ThailandOnly SongkranThailand?

Amazing Thailand: ThailandOnly SongkranThailand

Amazing Thailand: ThailandOnly SongkranThailand?…

I don’t know what to think about the Songkran marketing push from TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand): Amazing Thailand: #ThailandOnly #SongkranThailand.

Google+ CommunityThailandOnly SongkranThailand
Official Community from Tourism Authority of Thailand ร่วมแชร์ภาพสงกรานต์ทั่วไทย ด้วย #SongkranThailand #ThailandOnly Official Community from Tourism Authority of Thailand Share Songkran Festival of Thailand to the world with #SongkranThailand #ThailandOnly

After Thailand’s embarrassing pissyfit over Singapore’s Songkran celebration (see Is Thailand Suing Singapore for Stealing Songkran?), turns out Singapore’s Songkran won’t even have water (a crucial ingredient).

So why underline Thailand’s paranoia with the in-your-face marketing slogan, #ThailandOnly #SongkranThailand?

Just like when my elder brother fell for a snipe hunting gag at an important dinner (twice in one night), I’m painfully embarrassed for Thailand.

Amazing Thailand indeed.

UPDATE: The #ThailandOnly hashtag is taking on a life of its own (and not all is good).

Do you have questions about the quirks of the Thai language?
Send them over and we’ll do our best.

Thai Language Thai Culture: A “G” Rated Look at Thai Sex Words

Thai Language

A “G” Rated Look at Thai Sex Words…

Thai, like any other robust language, has lots and lots of words for “sex” and all the stuff associated with it. And in Thailand, for various reasons, discussions of this topic are quite frequently encountered.

But just like with any language, the words used in discussing this topic can run the gamut from the scientific to the vulgar. The vulgar words can be picked up just about anywhere, so I thought that a short lesson on how to discuss this most important of topics at a higher, more well-mannered level might be beneficial.

Sex…

เพศ /pâyt/ – sex

This is a very useful word in that it can refer to the gender of a person or animal. เพศชาย /pâyt-​chaai/ is a “male” (ชาย); and เพศหญิง /pâyt-​yǐng/ is a “female” (หญิง). But เพศ /pâyt/ by itself can also just simply mean “sex”. It gets really interesting especially when it is used along with other words though.

อวัยวะเพศชาย /à~​wai-​yá~​wá-​pâyt-​chaai/ – male sex organ
อวัยวะเพศหญิง /à~​wai-​yá~​wá-​pâyt-​ yǐng/ – female sex organ

อวัยวะ /à~​wai-​yá~​wá/ means “organ” (of the body). Add that along to the word for “male” and “female” and you can safely, and if you want scientifically, talk about the various sex organs of the body. I have also heard these terms used in talking about the reproductive organs of a flower. To each his own, I guess.

The Thai word สัมพันธ์ /sǎm-​pan/ means “connected to” as in “relationship”. So a nice formal and completely polite word is มีเพศสัมพันธ์ /​mee-​pâyt-​sǎm-​pan/ or “to have a sexual relationship” or to be more straight forward, “to have sexual intercourse” (another meaning of the word “intercourse” is communications between individuals, interestingly similar to สัมพันธ์ /sǎm-​pan/). But a simpler way to say the same thing is just มีเพศ – “to have sex”. Since this is a very important activity there are a multitude of words for it. Another polite word is ร่วมเพศ /rûam-​pâyt/. ร่วม /rûam/ means to “share” or to “join together”.

People of the night…

We have an interesting saying in English “the oldest profession” meaning of course, “prostitution”. Thai is no slouch when it comes to euphemisms either. The term การค้าประเวณี /gaan-​káa-​bprà~​way-​nee/ is made up of the words การค้า /gaan-​káa/ – “business”; and ประเวณี /​bprà~​way-​nee/ a word that means “customary” or “traditional”. You probably won’t hear this word about a traditional way of earning a living except maybe at a university lecture. But there are lots of others to describe this particular career path.

The most straight-forward and least euphemistic of these is โสเภณี /sǒh-​pay-​nee/. But this topic is ripe for euphemisms, as in ผู้หญิงหากิน /pôo-​yǐng-​hǎa-​kin/ “a girl looking to eat”; or ผู้หญิงหาเงิน /pôo-​yǐng-​hǎa-​ngern/ “ a girl looking for money”. Of course just to be balanced here, you can substitute ผู้ชาย /pôo-​chaai/ – “boy” instead. Then of course there is the easily understood loan word ผู้หญิงบาร์ /pûu-​yǐng baa/ – “a bar girl”.

Gay and Homosexual…

True homophobia like you find in the west is almost never encountered in Thai society, except maybe from the visiting foreign community, so a lot of the following words will not have the negative connotation that they would in other places.

A caveat: One word that you hear Farangs use often in Thailand is “Lady Boy”. It’s basically self-explanatory although a bit condescending. But it isn’t really a Thai word, and although it might be in the process, it still hasn’t been borrowed into the language. I personally have never heard a Thai use this word unless they are talking with a foreigner. My impression is that the word “lady boy” is an English word used almost exclusively by foreigners to describe a common cultural aspect of life in Thailand.

But Thai has a very rich vocabulary for this topic.

A real loan word is เกย์ /gay/. Straight forward, meaning the same in Thai as in English. A Thai word commonly understood by most foreigners living here is กะเทย /gà~​toie/ – meaning “a gay man”.

But this aspect of Thai culture can sometime be confusing. For example: The other day I was passing a store selling cosmetics. Outside there were two salespeople helping women shoppers by explaining how to use each of the products. One of the sales people was quite beautiful, shapely, with long hair and a tight fitting dress. But when she spoke it was obvious that she had been born a physical male. The other sales person was a man dressed in a nice suit and colorful tie and was acting much more effeminate than his partner.

Because vocabulary arises to describe things in a culture that need describing, there are two different words for these two very different people.

The word often used for the man in the suit and styled hair, speaking with a soft voice when explaining the cosmetics is กะเทย /gà~​toie/, or just เกย์ /gay/.

The other person, visually a stunning woman, is often referred to as ผู้หญิงประเภทสอง /pôo-​yǐng bprà~​pâyt sǒng/ (not a “lady boy” as a foreigner would say). This word explains a lot about the Thai world view. The word ผู้หญิง of course means “woman”, ประเภท means “kind’ or “category”, and สอง means “two” or “second”. Translated this word means “a woman of the second category”. The guy in the suit was a man; his partner, although physically a male, was a woman (albeit of the 2nd kind).

No wonder Thailand can hold and be proud of the yearly Miss Tiffany Universe Pageant.

Here are a few more words (I told you Thai had a rich vocabulary):

คนรักร่วมเพศ /kon-​rák-​rûam-​pâyt/; คน – “a person”; รัก – “love”; ร่วม – “to mix”, “to join together”; เพศ – “sex”. This word, although being ambiguous, is usually used for homosexuals.

ทอม /tom/ – “lesbian” – This is a loan word, probably originating from “tomboy”.
กะเทยแปลงเพศ /gà~​toie-​bplaeng-​pâyt/ – “transsexual” (having had sex change surgery); the word แปลง /bplaeng/ – means “adapt”, “modify”, “convert”.

And just to show that I am an equal opportunity blogger…

Heterosexual…

สนใจเพศตรงข้าม /sǒn-​jai-​pâyt-​dtrong-​kâam/ – heterosexual. สนใจ /sǒn-​jai/ – to be interested in; เพศ /pâyt/ – sex; ตรงข้าม /dtrong-​kâam/ – opposite

Procreation…

And although sex doesn’t always lead up to this, it is often a “side effect”. The simplest word for “pregnant” is ท้อง /tóng/ – literally “stomach”. Also used is มีท้อง /mee-​tóng/ – “to have a stomach”, and then the nice really formal word which you might read but almost never hear มีครรภ์ /mee-​kan/ where ครรภ์ means “womb”.

And as for the words “to give birth” we have ออกลูก /òk-​lôok/ – loosely translated “to put the kid out”, and the formal ให้กำเนิด /hâi-​gam-​nèrt/ – “to cause to be born”. But the one that seems the best to use in most situations is คลอด(ลูก) klôt (lôok).

And for others:
งดเว้น /ngót-​wén/ or ละเว้น /lá-​wén/ – “to abstain from …”

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
eBooks in Thailand

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Mixed Messages: Is Thailand Suing Singapore for Stealing Songkran?

Thailand Threatens to Sue Singapore for Stealing Songkran

Is Thailand Suing Singapore for Stealing Songkran?…

I don’t know about you but I’m bored bored bored with the political protests in Thailand. Go home already! Just recently Kaewmala started reminiscing about the good ‘ole days when we would poke fun at the hilarious antics of Thailand’s Ministry of Culture instead.

Do you remember when MiniCult decided that bare boobs at Songkran were no longer Thai? And then MiniCult had to do a mad scramble to replace the lovely Songkran boobs gracing their own website? And wasn’t that fun?

Well, this week Singapore announced that their annual Songkran festival for 2014 will better than ever with the Largest Water Festival Celebration Party in Singapore! Then yesterday TAT (Thai Tourism Authority) said that it welcomed Songkran in Singapore. But today we woke up to a Thai official threatening to sue Singapore over Songkran.

I don’t know what to think about these mixed messages except for GAME ON!

Thailand threatens to sue Singapore for ‘stealing’ Songkran: A senior Culture Ministry official has threatened to sue organisers of a Songkran festival in Singapore next month, saying it will undermine the value of the rival Thai New Year celebration.

Culture Surveillance Bureau director Yupa Taweewattanakijbaworn said Songkran is not just about splashing water for fun, but is aimed at strengthening relationships between family members and communities.

Singapore is using the festival to promote tourism, without acknowledging the value of the traditions behind Songkran, she said. ”This is wrong because the value of the traditional celebration is being distorted,” she said.

Seems she didn’t do her homework, or her Google finger is broken, or both.

Wikipedia: Songkran is a term derived from the Sanskrit saṅkrānti (or, more specifically, meṣa saṅkrānti). It may refer to the traditional New Year celebrated in Thailand and several Southeast Asian countries when the sun transits the constellation of Aries, the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, as reckoned by sidereal astrology.

Songkran can also refer to the traditional New Year celebrated by the Dai people of Yunnan, China, and by the Tai Dam people of Northern Vietnam.

Wikipedia: The Water Festival is the New Year’s celebrations that take place in Southeast Asian countries such as Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand as well as Yunnan, China. It is called the ‘Water Festival’ by Westerners because people splash / pour water at one another as part of the cleansing ritual to welcome the new year.

Traditionally people gently sprinkled water on one another as a sign of respect, but as the new year falls during the hottest month in South East Asia, many people end up dousing strangers and passersby in vehicles in boisterous celebration.

The act of pouring water is also a show of blessings and good wishes. It is believed that on this Water Festival, everything old must be thrown away, or it will bring the owner bad luck.

From the Indian Holi to the Thai Songkran: Songkran is believed to have originated in India, and the word Sankranti become Songkran. Holi is also celebrated in Burma (Myanmar), where it is still celebrated as a festival of colors. Gradually it moved to Siam, where the water and color mix gave way to a water festival. In Thailand, besides water, talcum is used to celebrate Songkran. In recent years, colors are being imported from India, and a section of revelers use colors along with water.

Now, let’s put aside the fact that Songkran isn’t a Thai only holiday for a minute. The argument is, ”This is wrong because the value of the traditional celebration is being distorted”. But what about all the holidays Thailand has grabbed from other countries? Chinese New Year, New Years, Xmas, Valentine’s day … and more.

After the MiniCult’s ill-informed rant I’m seriously thinking about flying down for the Largest Water Festival Celebration Party in Singapore. Are you with me?

Pssssst. Unlike in Thailand, Singapore will at least have beer.

BREAKING NEWS…

Official: No Plan To Sue Singapore Over Songkran: Ms. Yupa told Khaosod late yesterday that her agency, which operates under the Ministry of Culture, has no intention to file any lawsuit against Singapore.

“I never said anything like that,” Ms. Yupa insisted, “Such reports have caused damage to me, and to the Ministry of Culture”.

The director of Thai cultural watchdog claimed that she merely said in previous interviews that she postively views the Singaporean Songkran as good PR for Thai Songkran, and expressed her wish that the Singaporeans would “play Songkran correctly” in accordance to the Thai tradtion.

“It’s a sensitive subject. I don’t want to cause any disturbance to international relations,” Ms. Yupa complained, adding that she’s distraught to see her “misquotes” being amplified and “distorted” on the social network.

And now I really don’t know what to believe because both the Bangkok Post and the Nation posted her original quotes.

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