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Tag: Mary Haas

Mary Haas Thai-English Student’s Dictionary in Bangkok

Mary Haas

Getting serious about learning Thai…

There is a rumour going around about several must have resources for the serious Thai language learner. Not that I have gone into serious mode or anything, but I am curious about design and transliteration styles. I also have a love for books, so I set out to acquire what I could (which isn’t always easy in Thailand).

The last book on my main list was the esteemed Mary Haas Thai-English Student’s Dictionary. I saw it a year back at Paragon but balked at the price and then it was gone. Yesterday I didn’t leave the next opportunity to chance.

And then there were four…

Three focus on Thai grammar (take your pic) and one is the above mentioned Thai-English dictionary.

A Reference Grammar of Thai (paperback)
Authors: Shoichi Iwasaki and Preeya Ingkaphirom

…provides a clear, detailed and comprehensive guide to Thai grammar, designed for intermediate to advanced learners. Written by two leading experts on Thai, it places a special emphasis on functional accounts of its grammatical phenomena: the use of demonstratives, personal reference terms, the modality system, the aspectual system, pragmatic particles, verb serialisation, relative clauses, question formation, passive and causative constructions, topic marking and many more.

Unlike any other book on Thai grammar, it draws on data from everyday spoken discourses such as informal conversation, group discussions, interviews and narratives, as well as non-technical written texts such as folk tales, short stories and newspaper articles, to discuss grammatical phenomena at both sentence and discourse level. An extensive index is provided and examples are given in both Thai orthography and IPA symbols, making this an invaluable resource for linguists as well as students and teachers of Thai.

Thai, an Essential Grammar
Author: David Smyth

…the ideal guide to the basic structures of the language for both students on taught courses and independent learners. Grammatical forms are explained in clear, jargon-free style and illustrated by examples, given in both Thai script and romanization. As well as grammar, it includes guidance on pronunciation, speech conventions and the beautiful Thai writing system.

Thai Reference Grammar, the Structure of Spoken Thai
Authors: James Higbie and Snea Thinsan

…written to meet the need of students and teachers of the Thai language for information on advanced sentence structure. The book is divided into chapters based on common grammatical-structural categories. There are over 500 separate topics, and the most important feature is the sample sentences for each topic, of which there are over 2,000. These sentences are not stuffy, old-fashioned grammar examples, but samples of typical, idiomatic spoken Thai.

The authors, an American and a Thai both with advanced degrees in linguistics and language teaching, analyzed thousands of Thai sentences to formulate clear and concise explanations for all the important sentence patterns of the Thai language. Examples are given in both Thai script and transliterated Thai, written in the English alphabet with no special phonetic symbols. Tones are marked with a special font that shows the level of the sound of each word, essential to pronunciation in tonal languages like Thai.

Mary Haas Thai-English Student’s Dictionary
Compiled by: Mary R. Haas

Both English-speaking students of Thai and Thai students of all disciplines will be hard put to find a more comprehensive and satisfying answer to their general vocabulary needs. Professional translators, researchers, and even specialists whose only concern is problems of transliteration, will all benefit from this remarkable publication.

Mary died on my birthday in 1996, but as her dictionary is in Bangkok as of yesterday (and doesn’t stick around for long), I thought I’d post this now instead of Sunday.

NOTE: If you want to go for free, you can see some of the Thai-English student’s dictionary on Google Books. Beware the Google viewing limit… (A special thanks goes to Aksara Anwa Akson Thai (no longer online) for bringing it to my attention).

Except for A Reference Grammar of Thai, all books can be found at Kinokuniya, located in the Siam Paragon shopping complex.


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Thai-English Readers with Mp3s

Thai Readers

Back, back, back to kinder…

Going back to kindergarten. Hmmm. But, if that’s what it takes to read Thai, then so be it.

Thai is a tonal language, so being able to listen while you read is especially important for those clinging to training wheels (like me). And (I hear) even for intermediate readers.

Some Thai-English books for beginners will come with sound, but most won’t. When I got into my mad buying spree (still there), I didn’t realise the significance. I now have a nice pile sitting here, waiting.

But before I get to the Thai-English readers for beginners, I’d like to share tips for listening to Thai language mp3s.

Beginning courses have slower recordings. Once out of the ‘see spot run’ range, you are rushed into normal speed. As you should be.

But for basic beginners on fast forward, well, your brain will cease to exist.

So this is what you do…

Audacity and Thai readers…

  1. Download a free copy of Audacity (don’t forget to install the LAME MP3 encoder).
  2. Import your mp3 of choice into Audacity by dragging, then dropping the mp3 icon onto the Audacity program icon.
  3. Once open (if needed) click on the magnifying glass with the + until you see a clear distinction between sound clumps (look for blobs between flat lines).
  4. To select a sentence, drag your curser over a clump of blue.
  5. While it’s selected, click on the green arrow and adjust your selection until satisfied.
  6. In Audacity’s top nav, select effect >> change speed.
  7. Move the percent change slider, then click on the preview button until happy.
  8. Click the ok button, then the undo (command Z for a Mac, ctrl Z for PC) once you get back (you don’t want to slow down a selection twice).
  9. Select everything (command/ctrl A) and go back to the top nav to effect >> repeat last effect.
  10. Again, go back up to the top nav, but this time to file >> export as >> mp3.
  11. Save the file under a different name.


Listen using iTunes, RealPlayer, QuickTime or similar. Or, do what I do. Select sentences inside Audacity and keep hitting that green button as you read. Easy.

Finally, the online readers…

Manii Readers
Manii is one of the first Thai readers. First as in first on the ground as well as a first reader. On this site you’ll find pdf and mp3 downloads for Manii Reader 1 and 2, as well as online vocabulary tests. It’s old and clunky, but it’s there if you need it.

Read Thai with Manee and Friends at LearningThai.com (no longer online – for the moment) has a modern Manee (Manii) reader. As there is no direct url, select Read with Manee from the nav on your left. Included are 22 lessons with sound, a vocabulary list, flashcards, tests, and more tests.

SEAlang Lab: Just Read
This is the motherload of online Thai-English reading. Sounds are lacking for whole paragraphs, but when you click on individual words the search takes you to a dictionary with sound and video. It’s powerful, it’s loaded down with Mary Haas, and it goes from beginner to beyond.

Thai Audio Books (spokenthai.com – offline for now)
Talking books written and recorded by students from Sriwittayapaknam School in Samut Prakan.

Hard copy readers with sound…

There are several online bookstores selling Thai-English books. One of the top Thai publishers are is Nanmeebooks. But, for basic beginners (unless you have a Thai by your side), finding an online Thai bookshop in English is needed.

For children’s books, Buy Thai Books (offline for now) is the place to be.

From the list below I ordered the four Disney Pixar books as well as the thirty Aesop Tales. The recordings are clear and professional, with Pixar being particularly cheerful.

UPDATE: When the site goes online for good I’ll relink the books.

101 Dalmatians
One book. Illustrated. Thai and English. 24 pages.

One book. Illustrated. 24 pages.

Disney Pixar
Four books: Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, Cars and Monster, Inc. Illustrated.

One book. Illustrated. 24 pages.

Aesop Tales
Thirty Aesop Tales books written in Thai and English. Illustrated. 24 pages each.

One book. Illustrated. 24 pages.

Snow White
One book. Illustrated. 24 pages.

The Lion King
One book. Illustrated. 24 pages.

Intermediate online Thai-English reading resources…

Note: this is not a complete list so expect it to be edited.

Languages on the Web
Daisy Stores: Night Watch, A Nice Little Trip, The Bookworm, Daisy Macbeth.

SEAlang Lab: Just Read
SEAlang gets a double mention for its long list of English-Thai on offer.

Thai Fiction in Translation
Translated modern Thai literature, by Marcel Barang.

Thai On-Line Library – Bitext Corpus
Thai and (mostly) English parallel translations.

Advanced online Thai reading resources…

Thai Literature audio books. Download their pdfs and mp3s files to read along.

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