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WINNER: James Higbies’ Essential Thai and Thai Reference Grammar

WINNER: James Higbies' Essential Thai and Thai Reference Grammar

WINNER: James Higbies’ Essential Thai AND Thai Reference Grammar…

The lucky winner of Essential Thai and Thai Reference Grammar is …. Lawrence Michaels from Thailand Holiday Travel! Lawrence, if you send your address via email I’ll get these wonderful learning Thai resources to you asap or shortly after.

Jim, thank you for making this draw possible by donating the signed books. You’ve been very generous! And of course, meeting for lunch at the British Club so’s you can pull a winning name out of a beer mug was great fun too (we really must do it again sometime).

WINNER: James Higbies' Essential Thai and Thai Reference Grammar

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Tim Ferris: Thai Sentence Deconstruction

Tim Ferris: Thai Sentence Deconstruction

How to Learn (but not master) any Language in an hour…

Tim Ferris from the 4 Hour Workweek makes bold statements about learning languages. In my early days of learning Thai I came across his post How to Learn (but not master) any Language in an Hour. I loved his idea of deconstructing sentences.

Here’s the reasoning: Before you invest (or waste) hundreds and thousands of hours on a language, you should deconstruct it. During my thesis research at Princeton, which focused on neuroscience and unorthodox acquisition of Japanese by native English speakers, as well as when redesigning curricula for Berlitz, this neglected deconstruction step surfaced as one of the distinguishing habits of the fastest language learners…

He doesn’t say that deconstructing a language on its own is a fast way to learn a language. It’s what he uses to choose the easiest language (for him) to learn.

How is it possible to become conversationally fluent in one of these languages in 2-12 months? It starts with deconstructing them, choosing wisely, and abandoning all but a few of them.

Obviously, I’d already chosen Thai, so Tim’s explanation on how to decide which language stays or goes was a moot point. But if you are curious, please do read his article: How to Learn (but not master) any Language in an Hour.

What did interest me was the exercise of deconstructing Thai. After fiddling with it, showing it to Hugh, then walking through bits with Thai Skype Teacher Khun Narisa, below is the result.

Thai Sentence Deconstruction…

Tip from Khun Narisa: you must first understand the grammar of your own language before you tackle Thai!

What you see here is written Thai. If you want written and spoken Thai side-by-side (and add transliteration if you must), download the pdf: Thai Sentence Deconstruction.

The apple is red.
subject + verb + adjective

แอปเปิ้ล สี แดง
Apple + red colour.
noun + adjective

It is John’s apple.
pron + verb + noun + poss + noun

มัน คือ/เป็น แอปเปิ้ล ของ จอห์น
It + is + apple + of + John.
pron + verb + noun + conj + noun

I give John the apple.
pron + verb + indirect ob + direct ob

ฉัน/ผม เอา แอปเปิ้ล ให้ จอห์น
I + take + apple + to give to + John.
pron + verb + direct ob + v + indirect ob

We give him the apple.
pron + verb + indirect ob + direct ob

เรา เอา แอปเปิ้ล ให้ เขา
We + take + apple + to give to + him.
pron + verb + direct ob + v + indirect ob

He gives it to John.
pron + v + direct ob + conj + indirect ob

เขา เอา มัน ให้ จอห์น
He + take + it + to give + John.
pron + v + direct ob + v + indirect ob

She gives it to him.
pron + v + direct ob + conj + indirect ob

เขา เอา มัน ให้ เขา
She + take + it + to give + him.
pron + v + direct ob + v + indirect ob

I don’t give apples.
pron + negative + v + noun

ฉัน/ผม ไม่ ให้ แอปเปิ้ล
I + not + give + apple      
pron + negative + v + object

They don’t give apples.
pron + negative + verb + noun

(พวก)เขา ไม่ ให้ แอปเปิ้ล
They + not + give + apple
pron + negative + v + object

He doesn’t give apples.
pron + negative + v + noun

เขา ไม่ ให้ แอปเปิ้ล
He + not + give + apple.
pron + negative + v + object

I gave John an apple yesterday.
pron + verb + indirect obj + direct obj + time expression

ฉัน/ผม เอา แอปเปิ้ล ให้ จอห์น เมื่อวานนี้
I + take + apple + to give + John + yesterday.
pron + v + direct obj + v + indirect obj + time expression

She gave John an apple last week.
pron + v + indirect obj + direct obj + time expression

เขา เอา แอปเปิ้ล ให้ จอห์น อาทิตย์ ที่แล้ว
She + take + apple + to give + John + week + last.
pron + v + direct obj + v + indirect obj + time expression

We’ll give John an apple tomorrow.
pron + aux + verb + indirect obj + direct obj + time expression

(พวก)เรา จะ เอา แอปเปิ้ล ให้ จอห์น พรุ่งนี้
We + will + take + apple + to give + John + tomorrow.
pron + aux + v + direct obj + v + indirect obj + time expression

Tomorrow we will give an apple to John.
time exp + pron + aux + v + direct obj + prep + indirect obj

พรุ่งนี้ (พวก)เรา จะ เอา แอปเปิ้ล ให้จอห์น
Tomorrow + we + will + take + apple + to give + John.
time expression + pron + aux + v + direct obj + v + indirect obj

I must give it to him.
pron + aux + v + direct obj + prep + indirect obj

ฉัน/ผม ต้อง เอา มัน ให้ เขา
I + must + take + it + to give + him.
pron + aux + v + direct obj + v + indirect obj

I want to give it to her.
pron + v + v + direct obj + prep + indirect obj

ฉัน/ผม ต้องการ เอา มัน ให้ เขา/เธอ
I + want + to take + it + to give + her.
pron + v + v + direct obj + v + indirect obj

What is Tim looking for? How verbs are conjugated, placement of objects and their pronouns, negatives, tenses, sentence structure (SVO, SOV, etc), possible noun cases, and auxiliary verbs.

With the sentences Tim chose to compare, in Thai you won’t find that much to fuss about. Similar to English, Thai is SVO (subject-verb-object). And verbs? There is no conjugating going on.

The most difficult bits with learning Thai (for me anyway) is keeping up with context, remembering classifiers, getting the tones right, and giving suitable respect to those on the receiving end.

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Review: A Guide to Thai Grammar Books

A Guide to Thai Grammar Books

A Guide to Thai Grammar Books…

Presented here are short introductions to Thai grammar books, both in the English language for foreign learners and Thai language books for Thai school and university students which are also useful for foreign learners with a good Thai reading ability. As these are reference books, not tutorials, they are not intended to be read from cover-to-cover, but instead used to support continued studies.

Each book overview here covers the general structure and content together with comments about any specific, notable features. However, no opinion or rating is given about their suitability for any particular learning approach which is, of course, very subjective to each learner.

The books listed here are not the only books available. I welcome comments and further suggestions on this topic which would assist us all with our continued studies.

English Language Grammar Books…

The in-print books listed here can usually be found at all large book shops in Thailand which stock foreign language books. Many online shops (both Thai and foreign) sell them too. Google Books has free previews of some and, where relevant, a link is provided.

The Fundamentals of the Thai LanguageThe Fundamentals of the Thai Language (5th edition)
Author: Stuart Campbell and Chuan Shaweevongs
Format: out-of-print but available online (free)
Language: English with examples in Thai script and transliteration.
Website: Fundamentals of the Thai Language
 

While this is more of a language course than a grammar book, it does have a strong emphasis on basic grammar and outlines some key differences from English which is useful for beginners. Each topic is presented with basic vocabulary lists and example conversations. The first edition was printed in 1956 so some of the vocabulary is showing its age but the clear explanations and well structured content make this a useful book.

Thai: Essential GrammarThai: An Essential Grammar
Author: David Smyth
Formats: paperback, hardback, eBook (Kindle, PDF, ePub, Microsoft Reader)
ISBN: 978-0415226134 (paperback)
Language: English with examples in Thai script and transliteration.
 

Thai Reference Grammar: The Structure of Spoken ThaiThai Reference Grammar: The Structure of Spoken Thai
Authors: James Higbie and Snea Thinsan
Format: paperback
ISBN: 978-9748304960
Language: English with examples in Thai script and transliteration.
 

These two books are perhaps the most commonly available grammar books for foreign learners. They’re good introductions to Thai grammar and language patterns and useful for beginners as well as advanced learners. Both are written for general learners and only use basic grammatical terminology (eg. nouns, verbs, conjunctions etc) and therefore are straight forward to read and very approachable.

Different styles of transliteration are used in each book. Smyth’s system is not too different from that developed by Mary Haas and is easy to learn for readers familiar with Haas’ works or the system used in the Thai for Beginners book. Higbie’s transliteration style is unique, using under- and over-scoring representing tones, but after the initial “what is that?” reaction, it’s quick to learn and intuitive.

Given the rising popularity of eBook readers and tablet computers, Smyth’s publisher (Routledge) deserves praise for making his work available in digital formats. However, the Kindle and ePub editions use miniature graphics files for the Thai text and some transliteration symbols so resizing the layout doesn’t work properly on all readers (the graphic files don’t resize along with the normal text). The PDF version does not have this problem. (I’ve not seen the Microsoft Reader version so can’t comment about it.)

Thai Reference GrammarThai Reference Grammar
Author: Richard B. Noss
Formats: PDF (free online), paperback
ISBN: 978-1456503307 (paperback)
Language: English with transliteration (no Thai script)
Website: FSI: Thai Reference Grammar PDF download.

Obviously written at a time when people didn’t worry about the health effects of smoking, this book introduces the topic of classifiers with a demonstration of how to buy cigarettes as “the yellow pack”, “those five packs”, “the big pack” etc. – not something found in modern books! Printed in 1964, this is an updated version of the author’s PhD dissertation so academic linguistic terminology is heavily used throughout eg. nouns are defined as “any substantive which occurs as the head of an endocentric expression”, but there are plenty of examples which help if the lingo is hard to understand. It’s perhaps unfortunate that only transliteration is used – no Thai script at all – but this is a book about spoken Thai.

One feature that stands out is the focus on stress, rhythm and intonation in spoken Thai and the transliteration (also based on Mary Haas’ system) includes symbols to represent these features. Other grammar books generally give less focus on this topic so its inclusion here is welcome.

The PDF version at the above website is free and is a scan of the original print edition. It’s mostly of good quality although there are a few faint or illegible words to be found. There are “new” editions of this book being sold online, but they seem to be identical to this PDF except for the front cover.

A Reference Grammar of ThaiThai Reference Grammar A Reference Grammar of Thai
Authors: Shoichi Iwasaki and Preeya Ingkaphirom
Formats: paperback, hardback
ISBN: 978-0521108676 (paperback)
Language: English with examples in Thai script, transliteration and part-of-speech analysis.
Google Preview: A Reference Grammar of Thai

This book is also for a more academic audience. The terminology used is somewhat difficult at first if the reader is not familiar with technical linguistic terms (eg. chapter titles such as “Deontic Modal Auxiliaries”, “The Periphrastic Causative” etc), although each chapter has a short, less-technical introduction but not totally jargon free. Reading the chapter summaries first will give a clearer overview of the content and the terminology is arguably easier to understand than that used in Noss’ book.

The academic approach used to compile this book is clear from the conversational data: transcriptions of real conversations between teachers & parents, parents & children, business meetings etc. Even hesitations and repetition of words are transcribed, transliterated and analysed into parts of speech as spoken. Top marks for the analysis of real-life speech as this is something that’s not evident in the other books presented here.

The part-of-speech analysis is a feature not found in the other books in this article, although it’s common in many academic papers. For example:

นัดคงไม่มาแล้ว
nát khoŋ mây maa lɛ́ɛw
(name) may NEG come ASP
“Nat may not come any more.”

Lines 1, 2 and 4 are the Thai script, transliteration and translation respectively. Line 3 is the part-of-speech analysis showing how each word fits in the sentence: (name) denotes a persons name, NEG is a “negative marker” (“not”) and ASP is an “aspect auxiliary” (for time/tense).

However, there are a few mistakes: a few transliterations and translations are incomplete, and some incorrect spellings can be found too. But don’t let these minor negatives put you off though as this is otherwise a detailed, insightful (albeit expensive) book. The Smyth and Higbie books are great quick references for learning language structures but this one is more detailed and will often better answer the question “how does that word really work?”

Thai Language Grammar Books…

These grammar books are primarily for native Thai speakers so the focus is very different from those above. The foreign language books are about second language acquisition and understanding whereas books for native speakers explain the workings of the reader’s own native language which they already use fluently in daily life.

The first two books can be found in Thai university bookshops and larger general bookshops. The บรรทัดฐานภาษาไทย books are limited in availability and details are provided separately below.

หลักภาษาไทยหลักภาษาไทย [The Fundamentals of the Thai Language]
Author: กำชัย ทองหล่อ
Formats: paperback, hardback
ISBN: 978-9742466350
Language: Thai

Previews: Two chapters with partial translations can be found on the thai-language.com website:

Modifiers
Parts of Speech

This book is the standard reference book of the Thai language, first printed about 60 years ago. It’s a very detailed, academic tome (540 pages) covering the evolution of the Thai script, alphabet, tones, types of words, their use (including royal vocabulary or “ratchasap”), clauses, sentences, loan words (mainly Pali and Sanskrit with limited discussion of Khmer, Chinese and English), prose and poetry.

This book has no index but the table of contents is very detailed (spanning 11 pages) and lists all chapters, sections and subsections making it quick and easy to find the right page.

This reference manual is the definitive reference book for the Thai language.

ไวยากรณ์ไทยไวยากรณ์ไทย [Thai Grammar]
Author: นววรรณ พันธุเมธา
Formats: paperback, hardback
ISBN: 974-9993276
Language: Thai

This book covers all the essentials and isn’t overly technical. It’s less detailed than หลักภาษาไทย and perhaps easier to understand while being organised in a similar manner. It starts with chapters covering word types (verbs, nouns, conjunctions etc) and then phrase and sentence construction. The book only discusses the modern Thai language as used in normal daily life so there’s limited discussion of royal vocabulary, and nothing on the language history or traditional forms of verse that are covered in หลักภาษาไทย. Plenty of examples are given throughout and there are also exercises at the end of each chapter.

Unfortunately, finding information in this book can be slow as there’s no index and the table of contents is short (one page) which lists only the chapter titles, not subsections. Also, the page headers only contain the author’s name, book title and page numbers (no chapter or section titles) so the reader must scan the pages for section headings instead.

However, this book does have a logical organisation and its non-technical approach makes it useful as both a tutorial and reference guide.

บรรทัดฐานภาษาไทย เล่ม ๑-๖บรรทัดฐานภาษาไทย เล่ม ๑-๖ [Standard Thai, Books 1-6]
Author: Thai Language Institute, Office of Academic and Educational Standards, Office of the Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education
Format: paperback
Language: Thai

Availability generally limited to ศึกษาภัณฑ์พาณิชย์ (Suksapan Phaanit) shops.
Branch locations can be found at suksapan.or.th and an online ordering service is available.

เล่ม ๑ ระบบเสียง อักษรไทย การอ่านคำและการเขียนสะกดคำ
Book 1 Phonology, Thai alphabet, Reading and Spelling Words

เล่ม ๒ คำ การสร้างคำและการยืมคำ
Book 2 Words, Word Construction and Loan Words

เล่ม ๓ ชนิดของคำ วลี ประโยคและสัมพันธสาร
Book 3 Types of Words, Clauses, Sentences and Discourse

เล่ม ๔ วัฒนธรรมการใช้ภาษาไทย
Book 4 Cultural use of the Thai Language

เล่ม ๕ กระบวนการคิดและการเขียนร้อยแก้ว
Book 5 The Art of Writing Prose

เล่ม ๖ ฉันทลักษณ์และขนบการเขียนร้อยกรอง
Book 6 Prosody and Patterns for Writing Verse

Notes:
1. Book 1 of the current print-run has sold out (as of November 2011)
2. Books 5 and 6 have not yet been published (as of November 2011)
3. This review is based on books 2, 3 and 4

These recent books, published in 2009 and 2010, present a modern approach to understanding Thai for “teachers of Thai, students at secondary school level or higher and anyone interested in the Thai language”. They are written by “contemporary academic researchers and experts in the Thai language” which is evident from the bibliographies referencing many modern academic papers (from both Thai and foreign universities). By using a modern, broad base of linguistic research, the authors have developed a series of books that explain the Thai language clearly and concisely.

The vocabulary in these books is relatively straightforward and good use is made of charts and tables where appropriate. Some technical terminology has come from English and translated into Thai (eg. “socio-cultural information” translated to “ข้อมูลด้านสังคมและวัฒนธรรม”) but the English terms/phrases are also given on first use, which is helpful for foreign readers.

Footnotes are used to highlight where deviations have been made from older books such as หลักภาษาไทย (above) and its predecessor, the almost century-old work of พระยาอุปกิตศิลปสาร (not included here because it’s out-of-print). Such deviations are primarily where different terminology is used eg. the new books use คำนามวิสามัญ (proper noun) instead of วิสามานยนาม as used in the older books.

The up-to-date nature of these texts can be clearly seen in the second book (Words, Word Construction and Loan Words). The loan words chapters in the older books focus on Pali, Sanskrit and Khmer with a little Chinese and English but these newer books have extensive chapters for Pali, Sanskrit, Khmer, Chinese, Java-Malaya, and English. Likewise, in book 4 (Cultural use of the Thai Language) there are chapters on regional dialects in Thailand and modern language use in business, advertising, media, legal, religion, ceremonies, and word play/humour too.

In summary, these are well-thought out, up-to-date books with clear explanations, ample examples and a broad scope. They are likely to satisfy the most inquisitive students of the Thai language.

The in-print books listed here can usually be found at all large book shops in Thailand which stock foreign language books. Many online shops (both Thai and foreign) sell them too. Google Books has free previews of some and, where relevant, a link is provided.

Mark Hollow

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Google Books: Thai Learning Resources

Google Books

Thai resources on Google Books…

As what usually happens when blogging, one subject leads to another. For instance, this week I posted about Mary Haas Thai-English Student’s Dictionary in Bangkok. And then, after a suggestion made in the comments (thanks Aksara Anwa Akson Thai – no longer live), I was led to create a post on Thai learning resources found at Google Books.

Google Books opens up Thai reading resources for those who prefer to dig into the contents before purchasing. And if you do a little research, it’ll open up even more.

Please take note of the dates listed, as some books, while still relevant, are grandparents already.

Learning Thai on Google Books…

An Elementary Hand-book of the Siamese Language
Author: Basil Osborn Cartwright
Date: 1906 (out of copyright)

Contents: The Low Class Consonants, The Middle Class Consonants, The Tones, Deep and Dropped Tones, Haw Num Recapitulation, Double Initial Consonants,The Simple Sentence, The Noun, Some Miscellaneous Siamese, Letter Writing, Some Points of Siamese, Miscellaneous Exercises, Easy Passages for Translation into, Newspaper Cuttings, Siamese Letters, Harder Passages Siamese.

AUA Language Center Thai Course: Book One
Author: J. Marvin Brown, A.U.A. Language Center
Date: 1991

Includes extensive grammar, dialogue, and conversations, as well as tone distinction, manipulation, and identification.

A.U.A. Language Center Thai Course: Book Two
Author: J. Marvin Brown, A.U.A. Language Center
Date: 1992

Includes extensive grammar, dialogue, and conversations, as well as tone distinction, manipulation, and identification.

A.U.A. Language Center Thai Course: Book Three
Author: J. Marvin Brown, A.U.A. Language Center
Date: 1992

Includes extensive grammar, dialogue, and conversations, as well as tone distinction, manipulation, and identification.

AUA Language Center Thai Course Reading and Writing: Mostly Reading
Author: J. Marvin Brown, A.U.A. Language Center
Date: 1979

The reading section contains appendices on the history of the language while the writing section contains many practice problems and exercises. The books are comprehensive both in form and method–a necessity for any beginning student.

AUA Language Center Thai Course Reading and Writing: Mostly Writing
Date: 1979
Author: J. Marvin Brown, A.U.A. Language Center

The reading section contains appendices on the history of the language while the writing section contains many practice problems and exercises. The books are comprehensive both in form and method–a necessity for any beginning student.

Colloquial Thai
Authors: John Moore, Saowalak Rodchue
Date: 2005

Specially developed by experienced teachers for self-study or class use, this course offers a step-by-step approach to written and spoken Thai. No prior knowledge of the language is required.

Easy Thai
Author: Gordon H. Allison
Date: 1989

Easy Thai is the perfect introduction to learning the spoken language of Thailand. This basic and simple approach uses lessons which incorporate review lists and exercises with answer keys.

Instant Thai: How to express 1,000 different ideas with just 100 key words and phrases
Authors: Stuart Robson, Prateep Changchit
Date: 2007

Instant Thai contains 100 key words and over 500 basic sentences necessary for getting around in Thailand. It also has an English-Thai wordlist, arranged alphabetically. At the end of the book are useful appendices for telling the time, kinship terms, some Thai proverbs, and emergency expressions.

Sanuk Sanuk
By: National Thai Curriculum Project (Australia), Curriculum Corporation (Australia), National Thai Curriculum Project
Date: 1995

Ideal for: Grades 7-12. Introducing authentic Thai language in interesting situations, these extensively illustrated materials convey cultural information and encourage the acquisition of practical language for beginners at the secondary school level. Sanuk Sanuk (“Have Fun”) provides teachers with a complete framework and supporting resources for organizing and implementing an accelerated Thai language program.

Thai at Your Fingertips
Authors: Allison Weir, Manat Chitakasem, David Smyth, Lexus (Firm)
Date: 1988

Key words and phrases: pom chun, baht, glai, bpai, norn, krup, choo-ay, bpen, tahng, lair-o, gahn, dtorng, kreu-ung, mahk, gorn, Thai, nung, sorm, noun, choot.

Thai Cultural Reader
Authors: Robert B. Jones, Craig J. Reynolds, Ruchira C. Mendiones
Date: 1994

This reader has been designed to provide intermediate level students with readings on a wide range of topics concerning Thai culture and history written in various styles.

The Thai Writing System
Author: Nanthanā Dānwiwat
Date: 1987

Key words and phrases: Thai language, Khmer script, Khmer alphabet, Thailand, vocalic symbol, Bangkok, Thai alphabet, Sukhothai city, Thai numerals, King Rama VI, George Coedes, triphthongs, stop consonant, glottal stop, syllabic consonant, sound symbols, diphthongs, tonal marker, loanwords, Sukhothai script.

Tai-Kadai on Google Books…

The Tai-Kadai Languages
Authors: Anthony Diller, Jerold A. Edmondson, Yongxian Luo
Date: 2008

The Tai-Kadai Languages provides the clear, grammatical descriptions needed in the area. A one-of-a-kind resource, it presents a particularly important overview of Thai that includes extensive cross-referencing to other sections of the volume, sign-posting to sources in the bibliography, and can be seen as an abridged reference grammar in itself. A parallel grammatical study of Lao is also included, as are discussions of the ‘nationality languages’, surveys of further languages in the family with smaller numbers of speakers, and sections dealing with topics of comparative interest.

Thai dictionaries on Google Books…

Mary Haas Thai-English Student’s Dictionary
Compiled by: Mary R. Haas
Date: 1964

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.

Pocket Thai Dictionary
Authors: Benjawan Golding, Michael Golding, Benjawan Jai-Ua, Mike Golding
Date: 2004

Designed by academics, translators, and native speakers with today’s globetrotter in mind, the Periplus Pocket Dictionary Series is ideal for beginning students and travelers. Each volume contains 3,000 commonly used words, presented in an accessible format of both romanized and authentic script.

Robertson’s Practical English-Thai Dictionary
Authors: Richard G. Robertson, Michael Golding, Mike Golding, Benjawan Jai-Ua
Date: 2004

A new edition of this popular dictionary. The content has been thoroughly updated and expanded, and is now presented in a clear double-column layout. The rendering of each word and phrase in the familiar roman alphabet has been completely revised, and tones are clearly indicated throughout. Thai script is also shown in a font that can be read without difficulty both by learners and by Thai natives.

Thai-English Dictionary
Author: George Bradley McFarland
Date: 1944

This book contains a large number of words not found in the present Government dictionary and therefore will lead to a better knowledge and use of the Thai language.

Thai grammar on Google Books…

A Reference Grammar of Thai
Authors: Shōichi Iwasaki, Preeya Ingkaphirom, Inkapiromu Puriyā Horie
Date: 2005

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
Date: 2002

…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 phrase books on Google Books…

Essential Thai phrase book
Authors: Benjawan Golding, Michael Golding, Benjawan Jai-Ua, Mike Golding
Date: 2004

Periplus Essential Phrase Books take you beyond the traditional “Hello. How are you? My name is …”

Lonely Planet Thai Phrasebook
Authors: Lonely Planet Publications Staff, Bruce Evans
Date: 2004

Thailand is the Land of Smiles. A grin shows companionship. A laugh shows forgiveness. But what if you need a second-class train ticket from Bangkok to Chiang Mai? Keep smiling – this phrasebook will show you the way.

Rough Guide Thai
Authors: Rough Guides Staff, David Smyth, Rough Guides, Somsong Smyth, Lexus Firm Staff, Lexus, Lexus (Firm)
Date: 1999

Includes clear grammar and phonetic pronunciation guidelines, etiquette and cultural tips and a menu reader. The most user-friendly phrasebooks on the market.

Msc Thai learning on Google Books…

Webster’s Thai to English Crossword Puzzles: Level 2
Author: Icon Group International, Inc.
Date: 2007

This edition is for Level 2 vocabulary, where the higher the level number, the more complicated the vocabulary. Though highly entertaining, if not addictive, this crossword puzzle book covers some 3000 translations. In this book, hints are in Thai, answers are in English. This format is especially fun (or easiest) for people learning Thai; the format is most instructive, however, for people learning English (i.e. the puzzles are a good challenge). Within each level, the puzzles are organized to expose players to shorter and more common words first.

Webster’s Thai to English Crossword Puzzles Level 4
Author: Icon Group International, Inc.
Date: 2007

Webster’s Crossword Puzzles are edited for three audiences. The first audience consists of students who are actively building their vocabularies in either Thai or English in order to take foreign service, translation certification, Advanced Placement® (AP®) or similar examinations. By enjoying crossword puzzles, the reader can enrich their vocabulary in anticipation of an examination in either Thai or English. The second includes Thai-speaking students enrolled in an English Language Program (ELP), an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) program, an English as a Second Language Program (ESL), or in a TOEFL® or TOEIC® preparation program. The third audience includes English-speaking students enrolled in bilingual education programs or Thai speakers enrolled in English speaking schools.

700 Thai Words Taken From English
Author: Ken Albertsen
Date: ?

Key words and phrases: Thai alphabet, MILAREPA, Thailand, PASSAGE Novel, Thai language, glai, farang, sawm, hip slang, squash vegetable, nung, uwan, transliteration, suway, Thai spelling, orange drink, rawang, glua, masticate.

Linguistics on Google Books…

Concise Compendium of the World’s Languages
Author: George L. Campbell
Date: 1995

In this single volume, George Campbell describes over 100 languages. The emphasis is on the world’s major languages–those with over one million speakers. Throughout the book the treatment is simple and factual; technical terminology is used only where necessary, making this the ideal reference for the non-specialist.

Handbook of Scripts and Alphabets
Author: George L. Campbell
Date: 1997

This is a handy reference to the main scripts and alphabets of the world. Forty alphabets are presented and discussed, with entries ranging from the mainstream, such as Amharic, Chinese and Thai; to the more obscure, Buginese and Cree.

Linguistic Diversity and National Unity
Author: William Allen Smalley
Date: 1994

Unlike other multi-ethnic nations, such as Myanmar and India, where official language policy has sparked bloody clashes, Thailand has maintained relative stability despite its eighty languages. In this study of the relations among politics, geography, and language, William A. Smalley shows how Thailand has maintained national unity through an elaborate social and linguistic hierarchy.

Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics
Authors: Hadumod Bussmann, Gregory Trauth, Kerstin Kazzazi
Date: 1998

In over 2,000 entries, the Dictionary provides a comprehensive survey of the subdisciplines of linguistics and covers many of the world’s languages. It is alphabetically organized, with each entry providing clear and concise definitions of key linguistic terminology, concepts, and themes.

The Translator’s Handbook
Author: Morry Sofer
Date: 2006

Since 1997, this translator’s guide has been the worldwide leader in its field and has elicited high praise from some of the world’s best translators. It has been fully updated in the 2006 edition.

Thai culture/language on Google Books…

Culture and Customs of Thailand
Author: Arne Kislenko
Date: 2004

Evocative photos, a country map, a timeline, and a chronology complete the coverage. This reference is the best source for students and general readers to gain substantial, sweeping insight into the Thais and their “land of smiles.”

Language and National Identity in Asia
Author: Andrew Simpson
Date: 2007

Language and National Identity in Asia is a comprehensive introduction to the role of language in the construction and development of nations and national identities in Asia. Illustrated with maps and accessibly written this book will interest all those concerned to understand the dynamics of social change in some of the most important countries in the world. It will appeal to all those studying, researching, or teaching issues in Asian society, language, and politics from a comparative perspective.

Language, Culture, and History
Authors: Mary Rosamond Haas, Anwar S. Dil
Date: 1978

Key words and phrases: Hitchiti, Muskogean languages, Koasati, Algonkian, protolanguage, Hupa, Penutian, Karok, Edward Sapir, Apalachee, Lake Miwok, Choctaw, Ojibwa, Athapaskan languages, Harry Hoijer, Algonquian, Siouan language, Kroeber, Leonard Bloomfield, reduplication.

Thailand: A Global Studies Handbook
Author: Timothy D. Hoare
Date: 2004

The definitive guide to Thailand, providing a comprehensive, beyond-the-basics overview of the country, its history, economy, society, culture, and language.

Learning languages on Google Books…

How People Learn
Authors: John Bransford, Ann L. Brown, National Research Council (U.S.)
Date: 2003

Expanded to show how the theories and insights from the original hardcover edition can be translated into actions and practice, readers can now make valuable connections between classroom activities and learning behavior. This book offers exciting — and useful — information about the mind and the brain that provides some answers on how people actually learn.

How the Brain Learns
Author: David A. Sousa
Date: 2005

This updated edition of the powerful bestseller examines new research on brain functioning and translates this information into effective classroom strategies and activities.

How to Study
Authors: Allan Mundsack, James Deese, Ellin K. Deese, Clifford Thomas Morgan
Date: 2002

A perennial bestseller since its first publication in 1954, How to Study covers the nuts and bolts of successful studying, including the importance of setting priorities. This strategic guide also introduces readers to the art of studying and the indispensability of being a self-starter–and how to become one.

How Google Books works…

There are several offical views on offer when reading books via Google Books: Full view, limited preview, snippet view, no preview available.

Each book includes an ‘About this book’ page with basic bibliographic data like title, author, publication date, length and subject. For some books you may also see additional information like key terms and phrases, references to the book from scholarly publications or other books, chapter titles and a list of related books. For every book, you’ll see links directing you to bookstores where you can buy the book and libraries where you can borrow it.

Each book in limited preview is roughly 60-65% accessible, with Google keeping track of how many pages you’ve read.

Once you log in, however, to enforce limits on user page views, we do connect some information — your Google Account name — with the books and pages that you’ve viewed.

And once you’ve gone over that limit, you’ll get an alert: You have either reached a page that is unavailable for viewing or reached your viewing limit for this book.

Note: There are more than a few ways to download Google Books offered in full.

Suggestions for learning Thai with Google Books…

One thing I noticed when I was in the UK was the total absence of books for the Thai language learner. And while I’m no expert on which books have the best translation (you’ll need to ask Rikker at Thai101.net), Google Books might help in a pinch.

  1. Go to Google Books.
  2. Type Thai language edition’ in the search box, then select ‘Limited preview and full view’ from the drop down menu.
  3. Scroll through and click on the book of your liking.
  4. Open a new Google Books browser window.
  5. Cut and paste the title into the search box with ‘Limited preview and full view’ selected in the drop down.
  6. Select the English version of the Thai version you’ve chosen.
  7. With browsers side by side, start reading and scrolling.

At the moment the Thai selection is quite limited, but it should grow. And grow.

Shopping via Google Books…

I love a good book. And while pdfs and reading online are fine, there is nothing that beats reading from a real book. A book you can hold in your hands. A book that smells of… book!

Limiting myself, I’ve picked out a few books to add to my constantly growing wish list:

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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.

Hurry…

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