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Tag: Thai Without Tears

WLT’s Thai Language Giveaway: Smyth’s Thai: An Essential Grammar, Higbies’ Thai Reference Grammar and Essential Thai

WLTs Thai Language Giveaway

WLT’s Thai Language Giveaway…

Vote the Top 100 Language Learning Blogs 2015Welcome to week two of WLT’s seven weeks of Thai language giveaways by top movers and shakers in the learning Thai industry.

If you are just hearing about the giveaway do read Please Vote THAI and WIN! 2015: Top 100 Language Lovers Competition to find out about the $4,500+ in prizes being given away.

Thai Reference Grammar, Essential Thai, Thai: An Essential Grammar, and Thai Without Tears…

This week Orchid Press, DCO Books, and WLT (that’s me) have banded together to sponsor some of my favourite books for learning Thai: James Higbies’ Essential Thai and Thai Reference Grammar (two each), David Smyth’s Essential Grammar, and the classic Segaller’s Thai Without Tears.

And to make it even more fun, James Higbie signed all four copies of Essential Thai and Thai Reference Grammar. Lucky winners. I’d love signed copies too!

WLTs Thai Language Giveaway

During the last Essential Thai giveaway James Higbie and I lounged around at the Churchill Bar at British Club in Bangkok, sipping beers while Jim selected winners out of an empty beer mug. But for this giveaway, as Jim is in Bangkok and I’m in Chiang mai, he’ll do the honours without me. There might still be beer though (we’ll see).

And here’s a bit about the sponsors…

Orchid Press has been around since 1981. The majority of the books are related to the Asian region, covering general interest, scholarly, fiction, and poetry. They previously sold books out of a bookstore on Silom but now do internet sales and sales to other bookstores.

DCO Books came online in 1995. Their specialty is English language books published in Thailand. DCO is my go-to bookstore for books on the Thai language, culture and history (out of print or not). Whenever I find a book I just have to have, I’d contact Danny, who sources it for me (he knows where boxes are stashed). To help save you a bundle on shipping, Danny’s new venture is DCO Thai eBooks.

Higbie: Essential Thai…

Jim’s Essential Thai has a bit of lore attached to it. Years out of print, fans would cherish copies of copies until they fell to bits. Finally, in 2010, Orchid Press brought it back to life.

Essential ThaiEssential Thai
Author: James Higbie
Price: US$29.95 / 895 baht
Paperback + CD: 234 pages
Size: 190 x 250 mm
Published: 2011, Orchid Press

If you don’t win this time round, you can order Essential Thai online from Orchid Press or DCO Books.

Orchid Press: Essential Thai is a complete learning package for those who want to acquire basic working skills in the Thai language, quickly and efficiently. Freshly updated and back by popular demand, Essential Thai includes a CD ROM with MP-3 audio files to introduce the student to Thai pronunciation and beginning phrases.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Essential Thai. Jim’s writing is clear and concise, and with the layout being straightforward, the concepts are easy to understand and absorb. It’s so good, I even penned a post on Using the Assimil Method with Essential Thai. Essential Thai is also a prime candidate for using Luca Lampariello’s method outlined in An Easy Way to Learn Foreign Languages Part One and Part Two.

Higbie: Thai Reference Grammar…

Again, it’s Jim’s clear way of explaining concepts that draws me back to Thai Reference Grammar. It’s my go-to resource for those niggling grammar questions, or just for the pleasure of a good read.

Thai Reference GrammarThai Reference Grammar
Author: James Higbie
Price: US$29.95 / 895 baht
Paperback: 234 pages
Size: 190 x 250 mm
Published: 2003

As before, if you don’t win this time round, you can order Thai Reference Grammar online from Orchid Press or DCO Books.

DCO Books: There are many phrasebooks and course books for beginning-level Thai but until now there has been no book that explains higher-level Thai sentence structure and functional vocabulary.

Many students of the Thai language find that basic-level Thai is easy to pick up, but that the language becomes more difficult at higher levels. (For example, there are four ways to say ‘because’ and eleven ways to say ‘only’).

Thai Reference Grammar fills the need for a work that explains high-level Thai sentence structure and vocabulary. The book presents clear explanations of advanced Thai structure, illustrated with examples of typical Thai speech.

On a sidenote: Jim gifted me with the extra materials intended for the follow up of Thai Reference Grammar, so do stay tuned as I feed them through WLT bit by bit.

On a personal note: Jim’s latest project (not about Thai) is Sierra Leone: Inside the War. If it’s written anything like his other books it’ll be a fabulous read.

Smyth: Thai: An Essential Grammar…

Thai Reference Grammar and An Essential Grammar are the most popular grammar books for students of Thai. And if you are a fan of Mary Haas’s style (remember her Green Brick) and Benjawan’s Thai for Beginners, then you are already intune with David’s Essential Grammar. With the well-thought-out layout, it’s a quick jump through the contents to find just what you need.

From David Smyth: I hope you’ll find this book useful; and keep on checking out Cat’s fantastic website!

Thai: An Essential GrammarThai: An Essential Grammar
Author: David Smyth
Price: US$29.95 / 895 baht
Paperback: 234 pages
Size: 155 x 255 mm
Published: UK 2010 (1st) Edition

I have both editions but I’m forever grabbing this one (my second edition is still pristine). And I was in luck when taking this photo of the front cover because the coffee spills and chocolate prints wiped right off the beautiful matt finish!

Thai: An Essential Grammar can be ordered online from DCO Books.

DCO Books: Thai: An essential Grammar is a concise and user-friendly guide to the basic structures of the language. Grammatical forms are demonstrated through examples, given in both Thai script and romanised transliteration, with clear, jargon-free explanations. Its designed for use both by students taking a taught course in Thai and for independent learners, and includes guidance on pronunciation, speech conventions and the Thai writing system as well as grammar.

With numerous examples bringing grammar to life, this unique reference work will prove invaluable to all students looking to master the grammar of Thai.

Segaller: Thai Without Tears…

Segaller Thai Without TearsSegaller Thai Without Tears
Author: Denis Segaller
Price: $9.95
Paperback: 368 pages
Published: 1999

Segaller’s phrasebook, Thai Without Tears (a guide to simple Thai speaking), is an absolute classic and a joy to read. When Danny (DCO Books) mentioned adding it to the giveaway my response was “I LOVE that book!” Actually, I love pretty much everything by Dennis Segaller (RIP). He had a blast living in Thailand and it shines through everything he wrote.

DCO Books: An enjoyable introduction to basic Thai grammar and phrases, including those all-important tones! This handy little book should enable native English speakers to learn conversational Thai in a reasonably short time, and in an interesting and enjoyable way. Its phonetic system is simple and clear – a great help in learning those all-important Thai tones.

The examples have been chosen to be as useful as possible in everyday situations, and the two teaching sections are followed by collections of phrases concerned with telephoning, food, shopping, etc. Other sections deal with colours, times and dates, social norms, getting around, festivals and public holidays presented in a highly readable way and with some cultural background here and there. 1,300 word English-Thai and Thai-English glossaries and some emergency phrases (most of which we hope you’ll never need) round off the book.

Rules for WLTs Thai Language Giveaway…

The rules are dead simple:

  • To be included in the draw, leave comments below.
  • Comment(s) need to add to the conversation (it really does matter).
  • Each relevant comment gets counted, so please do leave as many as you like!
  • If you don’t collect your prize within a week of the announcement, it will be given away to the next person in line.
  • You don’t have to live in Thailand to enter the contest; the cost of shipping to anywhere in the world is covered.

I will not be responsible for choosing the winners so even if you’ve known me for yaks ages you too can win. Also, there is no limit to how many prizes you can win. So go ahead. If you see something you fancy, please do enter again and again and again.

Important: If you own any of these books do let us know in the comments and we’ll adjust the prizes.

The draw will run from this moment until the 10th of June, 6am Thai time. At that time I’ll announce the winners in the comments below as well as create a dedicated post.

Again, my thanks goes to Orchid Press and Danny from DCO Books for sponsoring these wonderful books. And of course, James Higbie for taking the time to sign copies and choose winners. Good luck everyone!

WLTs 2015 Thai Language Giveaway…

Vote the Top 100 Language Learning Blogs 2015Pssst … if you haven’t voted in the Language Lovers Competition, please do. It’s the one time out of the year I get to strut my stuff. Cheers!

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Thai Language Phrase Books: A Mega Review

Thai Language Phrase Books

The guts of a phrase book…

Before embarking on this review, I held preconceived notions of what to expect from phrase books: handy phrases, brief dictionary, small in size, an easy to skim layout and design.

After the books started arriving (thanks Danny!) a serious rethink came into play.

I now know that most Thai phrase books have mistakes, some minute, some quite shocking. And after much thought and wringing of hands, I decided that there just wasn’t the room to make them a focus. Also, while it is my aim to point out features (or the lack), is not my intention to ruffle feathers.

Phrase book considerations…

If I might be so bold… here’s a suggestion for using this post. When reading through the reviews, look out for what you need out of a phrase book.

For instance: If you are a first time tourist or expat new to Thailand, along with Thai phrases, an introduction to Thai culture will be important to you; if you are older or have poor eyesight, you’ll need a decent size copy; if you intend on getting help from Thais, Thai script comes into it; if you have a Thai partner with poor eyesight, the size of the Thai script comes into it too; if you are a Thai language learner, a section on grammar is helpful; if a certain transliteration style bugs you, you need to know before you buy. And for all you design lovers out there, my, oh my.

NOTE: To see a sample page from each phrase book, click on the graphics. To be doubly sure to find a Thai phrase book that fits what you need, skim the table of contents included at the bottom of each review.

Below are the criteria I created to review phrase books:

  • Target market: Is it for tourists, expats new to Thailand, or Thai language learners?
  • Information: Does it weigh on cultural information, phrases or dictionary entries?
  • Dictionary: How extensive is it? Does it have Thai script, transliteration or both?
  • Sound: Is sound included to assist with the mishmash of Thai transliterations?
  • Size: Will it fit into a pocket, purse or backpack, or is it more suited for the coffee table?
  • Design style: Do the colour and font choices add or subtract to the experience?
  • Thai script: Is it too small to read in low light situations?
  • Transliteration: Do they have ก as a g or k; is จ a j or ch?
  • Overall design: Is the layout easy to navigate?

And before you ask, yes, the phrase books reviewed include most of the needed basic phrases. Some more than others.

What other people are saying about the phrase books…

When I interviewed seasoned expats, the opinions on Thai phrase books were mostly negative (some even included expletives). I received complaints such as, “Why are the sentences so long and complicated?”, “Thais don’t speak like that!'”,”Why alphabetise by transliteration?”, and “Why is the Thai script so small?”

When my Thai teacher scanned the phrase books, she was pleased to see the range of phrases (as I’m sure you are too) but was surprised to discover impossibly small Thai script, and at times, no Thai script at all. Her comments? “How can a Thai help when they can’t even read the Thai?” and “How can a Thai help when there is only transliteration?”

When reading reviews on amazon.com, I noticed that some reviews were copied across different languages, which tended to null the glowing reports. I was also surprised to find raving reviews about phrase books I thought were total cacca.

But a given, with people having different wants and needs, personal opinions on phrase books will be all over the place.

The personal opinions below (cacca or otherwise), are mine.

And now for the Thai language phrase book review…

Berlitz Thai Travel Pack

Berlitz Phrase BookAuthor: Berlitz Publishing
Publisher: Berlitz Publishing
Date: 2004
Pages: 192
Size: 5-6/8 x 4-1/8 x 1/2″
Sound files: CD
Estimated phrases: 2000+
Transliteration: ก=g, จ=j
Dictionary: English-Thai-Transliteration 2000+ word vocabulary

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

This review is from the 2004 edition (2007 is nowhere to be found in Thailand) so until they upgrade Berlitz in May of this year, this one stands.

Overview: Albeit a bit old-fashioned, the CD with British-Thai speakers is the prize of this package. In the phrase book, the colour coding with subject titles along the edges of the pages helps with navigation. All throughout the book you’ll find tidbits on Thailand. Being able to find where Thai words are used in a phrase book is important, and Berlitz does it well. Acting as an index, the English dictionary and list of Thai words have page numbers pointing back to their usage in the book.

Possible negatives: Some of the information is (understandably) out of date. But more serious, by using a chicken scratch light font, the size of the Thai script is unbelievably small even for Thais. While it does have a short list of Thai words at the back, the English-Thai-Transliteration dictionary is not helpful for getting assistance from Thais.

Table of contents:

  • Guide to pronunciation
  • Some basic expressions
  • Arrival
  • Hotel-accommodation
  • Eating out
  • Travelling around
  • Sightseeing
  • Relaxing
  • Making friends
  • Shopping guide
  • Your money: banks-currency
  • At the post office
  • Doctor
  • Reference section
  • Basic grammar
  • Dictionary and index
  • Thai index
  • Map of Thailand

Collins Thai Phrasebook CD Pack

Collins Thai PhrasebookAuthor: Collins UK
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Date: May 2008
Pages: 256
Size: 4-5/8 x 3-1/4 x 1/2″
Sound files: 1 CD
Estimated phrases: 1000+
Transliteration: ก=g, จ=j
Dictionary: English-Thai-Transliteration / Thai-Transliteration-English, 1500+ word vocabulary

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: Collins includes a CD with British-Thai speakers; the sound files are separated by subject. The book has an excellent layout, is easy to read, and is the smallest phrase book of the lot. The colour coding on the page edges helps with navigation. On the footer of some pages are hints directing you to similar subjects. Useful information about the Thai culture is dotted around without weighing the phrase book down with too much information. The menu reader with Thai-Transliteration-English is practical when reading from a Thai menu without English, same goes for the signs and notices section.

Possible negatives: The eating out section could use more food choices. For cross-checking words used in phrases, adding page numbers to the dictionary entries would greatly add to the usefulness of this book (any phrase book actually). After a little use, the plastic coating on the cover started rolling off so if you do buy this book, perhaps have the bookstore cover it with a book protector.

Table of contents:

  • Using your phrase book
  • Pronouncing Thai
  • Top ten tips
  • Talking to people
  • Getting around
  • Driving
  • Staying somewhere
  • Shopping
  • Leisure
  • Communications
  • Practicalities
  • Health
  • Different types of travellers
  • Reference
  • Eating out
  • Menu reader
  • Grammar
  • Public holidays
  • Dictionary

Easy Thai

Easy ThaiAuthor: Assistant Professor Boonjira Thungsuk and Professor Dr. Cholticha Bamroongraks
Publisher: Book Promotion and Service Co., Ltd
Date: 2006
Pages: 238
Size: 5-1/2 x 4 x 1/2″
Sound files: No
Estimated phrases: 700+
Transliteration: ก=g, จ=j
Dictionary: English-Transliteration-Thai 1500+ word vocabulary

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: This informative phrase book has clearly been written by authors living in Thailand, and going one further, both are Thai. The phrases are not merely generic to phrase books (a beef of mine), but relate directly to what you will need for Thailand. The tips also reflect an insider’s knowledge of Thailand. The illustrations are wonderful (hats off to illustrator Tammasak Sittipongsutti). And while decent illustrations might not matter to some, they do give a pleasant holiday feeling throughout the book. There are titles both across the top of each page as well as along the sides, making navigation a breeze. All fonts are legible (and that includes the Thai script).

Negatives: There is no Thai-English dictionary, so no sharing this Thai phrase book with your Thai buddies. Marketing to short time tourists, the authors decided to omit tone markers so you are on you own there too. Without an accompanying CD, you’ll need to take extra care when using Thai words on the danger list (if you don’t know of any danger words, just keep on eye out for telltale signs of a Thai in distress).

Table of contents:

  • Guide to pronunciation
  • Basic Thai grammar
  • Social customs and home life
  • Your arrival in Thailand
  • At your hotel
  • Travelling around
  • Eating and drinking
  • Shopping
  • Emergency terms
  • At the doctor s office
  • Post and telephone
  • English-Thai vocabulary

English-Thai Phrase Book with CD

English-ThaiAuthor: Bangkok Book House
Publisher: Bangkok Book House
Date: 2007
Pages: 144
Size: 6-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2/8″
Sound files: 2 CDs
Estimated phrases: 500+
Transliteration: ก=k, จ=j
Dictionary: English-Transliteration-Thai 1000+ word vocabulary

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: A shrewd move, the index is incorporated with the dictionary, enabling the reader to find where words are used in the book. The CDs, recorded with American-Thai speakers, made me smile when they came into iTunes titled Diary of a Sinner by Petey Pablo, and Obscured by Clouds by Pink Floyd. Sweet. And gals, the sound files are in female voice (yeah for us!), so if your travelling mate is using this phrase book and starts saying คะ (ká) or ค่ะ (khâ) instead of ครับ (kráp ) at the end of sentences, you’ll know why.

Possible negatives: The pages do not have subject titles on the top or along the sides. The Thai script is small; in the dictionary the script is smaller still. The tone marks are squashed into the line of copy above, at times making them difficult to read. The sound files come one to a CD, so if you want to listen by subject, you’ll need to edit them using Audacity or similar. Lacking is a Thai-English dictionary, and nowhere do they have the Thai script first. There are no tips on pronunciation, Thailand, or Thai culture.

Table of contents:

  • Thai language
  • Useful stuff
  • Welcome to Thailand
  • Numbers, days and date
  • Shopping
  • Eating out
  • Travel
  • Weather
  • Leisure and sports
  • Sightseeing
  • Bank, post office and police station
  • Doctor, hospital
  • Small talk
  • Index and dictionary

English-Thai Pocket Book

English-Thai Pocket BookAuthor: Bangkok Book House
Publisher: Bangkok Book House
Date: 2008 (5th edition)
Pages: 194
Size: 6 x 4-1/8 x 1/2″
Sound files: 2 CDs
Estimated phrases: 400+
Transliteration: ก=k, จ=j
Dictionary: No (but there is an index)

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: This book is intended to go with their English-Thai Holidays Language-Guide. And while it is not listed as a phrase book, it is a decent mini-intro to Thai phrases. The two CDs (American and Thai speakers) with files separated into subject increases the value of this book. All copy is legible, even the odd graphics used to denote tones. Subject titles are placed along the top of each page. The circles around important issues are old-fashioned, but effective.

Possible negatives: The nine full page ads are invasive. Nowhere does the Thai script come first. If you need a dictionary, the lack of one in Thai or English will be a problem.

Table of contents:

  • Thai language
  • Greetings
  • Verbs
  • Adjectives
  • Question and answer
  • Numbers and counting
  • Time and date
  • Shopping
  • Living
  • Working
  • Family
  • Doctor’s office
  • Post Office and bank
  • Telephone
  • Nature
  • Travel
  • Feelings
  • Love
  • Important phrases
  • Restaurant and bar
  • Index

Hide This Thai Phrase Book

Hide This Thai Phrase BookAuthor: APA Publications
Publisher: APA Publications
Date: Sept 2008
Pages: 129
Size: 5-7/8 x 4 x 3/8″
Sound files: No
Estimated phrases: 1000+
Transliteration: ก=g, จ=j
Dictionary: Transliteration-English, English-Transliteration

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: The marketing ploy of this phrase book is the title, “Hide This Thai Phrase Book” with a cover blurb that yells, “WARNING: Highly inflammatory language inside. Discretion is recommended when using with locals”. As a red thermometer graphic marks where the bad words are used, they are quite easy to find. All two of them. Aiming for a young audience, the writing and design is modern, with copy that is (mostly) easy to read. The Thai script is bold (at long last) and legible. The subject titles are along the page sides. On the inside of the book, the red and black grunge titles help with navigation.

Negatives: If you are of the opinion that learning cuss words in Thai is a negative, then this book is not for you. If you expected more than two cuss words, then, well, well, this book can’t win for losing. Nowhere is the Thai script first, not even in the dictionary (which has no Thai script at all). So gals and guys, if you bought this book to get close to a sweet Thai, totally forget about waggling it in their direction with the aim of asking for help (sounds drastic when I say it like that, yes?) The only bad style choice is the handwriting font, which is too small in places.

Table of contents:

  • Intro
  • Speak Thai – the easy way
  • The basics
  • Getting around
  • Money
  • Hotel
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Havin’ fun
  • Sports
  • Makin’ friends
  • Shopping
  • Tech talk
  • Dictionary

Eyewitness Thai Phrase Book

 Eyewitness Thai Phrase BookAuthors: David Smyth, Somsong Smyth
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd
Date: April 2003
Pages: 128
Size: 5-5/8 x 4 x 1/4 inches
Sound files: No
Estimated phrases: 400+
Transliteration: ก=g, จ=j
Dictionary: English-Transliteration-Thai 1000+ word vocabulary

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: The overall design is better than average. Except for the section paragraphs with copy crammed together, there is plenty of white space between the blocks of text to scan for information. As with Collins Thai, the Thai script comes first in the menu guide and sign section.

Possible negatives: The Thai script is very small, and the light black ink on light green background makes it doubly difficult to read. The dictionary is limited to English-Thai so you cannot ask a Thai for assistance. The dictionary entries are not accompanied by corresponding page numbers.

Table of contents:

  • Pronunciation
  • Cross-cultural notes
  • Useful everyday phrases
  • Days, months, seasons
  • Numbers
  • Time, the calendar
  • Hotels
  • Driving
  • Rail travel
  • By bus and taxi
  • Eating out
  • Menu guide
  • Shopping
  • At the hairdresser
  • Post offices and banks
  • Communications
  • Health
  • Mini-dictionary

Practical Thai 15th Edition

Practical ThaiAuthor: Suraphong Kanchananago
Publisher: APA-C
Date: 2008 (15th edition)
Pages: 320
Size: 5-5/8 x 4-1/4 x 5/8″
Sound files: No
Estimated phrases: 2000+
Transliteration: ก=k, จ=ch
Dictionary: English-Thai 2000+ word vocabulary

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: This phrase book is chockablock full of Thai words and phrases, tips and information on visiting as well as living in the country. Thailand is a veritable smorgasbord when it comes to choice, and this book has a well-rounded food and shopping section to match. And kudos to them for finally dealing with servants. The book is printed in one colour with a legible Thai script; subject titles can be easily found across the top of each page.

Possible negatives: White space between some of the information would come in handy. The phrase book is missing Thai-English in both the dictionary and restaurant sections. The English-Thai dictionary entries could use page numbers pointing back to where the Thai words appear in the phrase book.

Table of contents:

  • Pronunciation
  • Rudiments of grammar
  • Social customs and home life
  • Words and phrases in common use
  • Your arrival in Thailand
  • Travelling around
  • At your hotel
  • Eating and drinking
  • Shopping and bargaining
  • Making friends
  • Living in Thailand
  • At a doctors office
  • Post, telegraph and telephone
  • Ministries and government departments
  • Some official titles
  • English-Thai vocabulary

Thai for Travellers (Asia Books)

Thai for TravellersAuthor: Suraphong Kanchananaga
Publisher: Asia Books
Date: 2008 (12th printing)
Pages: 309
Size: 5-5/8 x 4-1/8 x 1/2″
Sound files: No
Estimated phrases: 1000+
Transliteration: ก=k, จ=ch
Dictionary: English-Transliteration-Thai 1000+ word vocabulary

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: Thai for Travellers book has information on Thailand, Thai words and phrases, and samples of Thai grammar. The Thai script is small (borderline tiny) but under good conditions is not impossible to read. The book is printed in one colour, with subject titles easily found across the top of each page. At the back of the book are three pages for jotting down notes.

Possible negatives: It could be improved with an increase of white space in some areas (but mostly it is fine). Nowhere does the Thai script come first. There is no Thai-English dictionary and the English-Transliteration-Thai dictionary does not include page numbers for word entries.

Table of contents:

  • Introducing Thailand
  • Guide to pronunciation
  • A bit of Thai grammar
  • When you enter Thailand
  • Checking in at a hotel
  • Eating and drinking
  • Marketing
  • Products made in Thailand
  • Going about
  • A journey by railway
  • Living in Thailand
  • Travel tips
  • Reference section

Thai for Travellers with CD

Thai for TravellersAuthor: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Publisher: Paiboon Publishing
Date: 2006
Pages: 182
Size: 5-1/2 x 4 x 3/8″
Sound files: CD
Estimated phrases: 550+
Transliteration: ก=g, จ=j
Dictionary: No

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: The American-Thai speakers on the language CD cover basic Thai phrases with the sound files being separated out by subjects. This is a phrase book that doesn’t strain the eyes with tiny Thai script. The design is old-fashioned, but the copy is mostly easy to read.

Possible negatives: There are no subject titles across the top or along the sides of the pages. And although the copy is easy to read, there are no indications of where you are, so you are forever flipping around. All through the book is English-Transliteration-Thai so this is not a book to share with Thais. There is no dictionary or information for those new to Thailand.

Table of contents:

  • Guide to pronunciation
  • Greetings and introduction
  • Often used phrases
  • Language difficulties
  • At the hotel
  • Getting around
  • Shopping
  • Services
  • Phone conversations
  • Food and drinks
  • Health matters
  • Emergencies
  • Small talk
  • Love and romance

Thai in Your Pocket (Asia Books)

Thai in Your PocketAuthor: Globetrotter
Publisher: Asia Books
Date: 2009
Pages: 193
Size: 5-3/4 x 3-7/8 x 3/8″
Sound files: No
Estimated phrases: 600+
Transliteration: ก=g, จ=j
Dictionary: English-Thai-Transliteration / Transliteration-Thai-English 3000+ word vocabulary

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: There are a few tips for the first time visitor to the Kingdom. Although the Thai section of the dictionary starts off with transliteration, the Thai script comes immediately after it is possible to get help from a Thai. The Thai script is a decent size, printed in a clear font on a mostly white background. Where the Thai script is printed on a coloured background, it is printed in strong black of a readable size. To separate out sections, colour coding graces the page edges.

Possible negatives: It is a first print run, so some of the more glaring snafus have not been tracked down. But all in all, they are not that big of a deal. Not really. Well, ok, I’ve never had to ask a Thai where the ski run is, or if they have avalanches or ice-skating, but there’s always a first time. As with most of the phrase books, the dictionaries do not include page numbers for easy reference.

Table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • How to use this book
  • Pronunciation
  • Grammar
  • Basics
  • Transport
  • Accommodation
  • Eating and drinking
  • Money and shopping
  • Activities
  • Health and safety
  • Etiquette
  • Holidays and festivals
  • Dictionary

Thai: Lonely Planet Phrasebook

Author: Bruce Evans, Lonely Planet Phrasebooks
Publisher: Lonely Planet
Date: 2008 (6th edition)
Pages: 258
Size: 5-1/2 x 3-3/4 x 1/2″
Sound files: No
Estimated phrases: 2000+
Transliteration: ก=g, จ=j
Dictionary: English-Thai-Transliteration / Thai-Transliteration-English with 2000+ word vocabulary

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: This phrase book is stuffed with phrases, as well as information on Thailand and Thai culture. The book has a pleasant design, similar to The Rough Guide.

Possible negatives: The Thai script is tiny, especially in the dictionary (which is difficult to make out even in good light). The Culinary Reader is alphabetised by transliteration, not Thai-English. I guess if you are quick enough, you could look up a dish after listening to a Thai waitress run through their menu, but it won’t work for reading menus in Thai script. Although there is a brief index in English, neither dictionary includes page numbers pointing back to word entries.

Table of contents:

  • Introduction to Thai
  • Pronunciation
  • Phrasebuilder
  • Language difficulties
  • Numbers and amounts
  • Time and dates
  • Money
  • Transport
  • Border crossing
  • Directions
  • Accommodation
  • Shopping
  • Banking
  • Sightseeing
  • Business
  • Senior and disabled travellers
  • Children
  • Meeting people
  • Interests
  • Feelings and opinions
  • Going out
  • Romance
  • Beliefs and cultural differences
  • Art
  • Sport
  • Outdoors
  • Eating out
  • Self-catering
  • Vegetarian and special needs
  • Culinary reader
  • Essentials
  • Health
  • Dictionary
  • Index

Thai Phrase Book with Tones

ThaiAuthor: Aaron Handel
Publisher: Tiger Press
Date: 2007
Pages: 155
Size: 4 x 5-5/8 x 3/8″
Sound files: No
Estimated phrases: 200+
Transliteration: ก=g, จ=j
Dictionary: No

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: It has been a long time since I’ve seen a book with ruled lines instead of white space, but it does help keep the ideas together.

Possible negatives: If you are a design fan, you might be getting itchy fingers right about now. If you are an academic, perhaps not. This book covers basic phrases and grammar but does not include anything to do with Thais or Thai culture. With a language focus only, there is no information for tourists first coming into the country. It is also lacking a dictionary.

Table of contents:

  • Tones
  • Thai grammar
  • Greetings and questions
  • Numbers
  • Colours
  • Time and date
  • Shopping
  • Food
  • Accommodation
  • Travel and driving
  • Money
  • Health
  • Romance
  • Appendix

Thai Without Tears

ThaiAuthor: Denis Segaller
Publisher: Books & Magazine Distributors (Thailand) Co., Ltd
Date: 2002 (2nd edition)
Pages: 362
Size: 5-1/2 x 4 x 1″
Sound files: No
Estimated phrases: 300+
Transliteration: ก=g, จ=j
Dictionary: English-Transliteration-Thai 1300+ word vocabulary, Thai-English 1000+ word vocabulary

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: Warning: I enjoy reading Denis Segaller, so I might just be a wee bit biased. This book includes warm, personal insights into Thailand and Thai culture; the chapter on understanding Thainglish should be included in all Thai phrase books. The Thai script is a decent size and the transliteration explanations are broken down into American/English and British/English. Another person I know swears by this book too, happily using the phrases and vocabulary in his Palm Pilot for a portable reference.

Possible negatives: Due to the overall arrangement and design layout, it is difficult to find phrases quickly. An index/dictionary combo wouldn’t go amiss, nor would subject titles across the top of each page or along the sides. Take your pick.

Table of contents:

  • Introduction to Thai
  • Understanding Thainglish
  • The bare minimum
  • More ambitious
  • Useful phrases
  • Colours
  • Times and dates
  • Thai social norms
  • Getting around
  • Festivals and public holidays
  • Sightseeing
  • English-Thai glossary
  • Emergency list
  • Thai-English glossary
  • Emergency list

The Rough Guide to Thai Dictionary Phrasebook

Rough GuideAuthor: Lexus, David Smyth, Somsong Smyth
Publisher: Rough Guides; Blg Upd edition
Date: 2006 (2nd edition)
Pages: 288
Size: 5-5/8 x 4-1/8 x 1/2″
Estimated phrases: 1000+
Transliteration: ก=g, จ=j
Dictionary: English-Transliteration-Thai 2000+ word vocabulary, Transliteration-English 2000+ word vocabulary

NOTE: To see a sample page click on the phrase book thumbnail.

Overview: The all-in-one English-Thai dictionary with sentences and dialogue has excellent and well defined sections (eating, signs, how the language works) and legible Thai script. The menu reader is Thai-Transliteration-English, as is the section for signs. Except for the white copy on blue in the front, I prefer this design over all but Collins.

Possible negatives: The scenarios section (16 pages worth) has white copy on light blue pages, making for difficult reading. Another disappointment: it does not include a Thai-English dictionary, instead it has a Transliteration-English dictionary. This means that while you should be able to look up a word after hearing it, you can’t get help from Thais. In my opinion, with the few available phrases being buried in the dictionary, it is a mini-dictionary, not a phrase book.

Table of contents:

  • Basic phrases
  • Scenarios
  • English-Thai
  • Thai-English
  • Thai-English signs and notices
  • Menu reader
  • How the language works

If you have any comments on the individual guides, please add them below or contact me.

Next up: Thai Phrase Books with a Twist.

Reviewing Thai phrase books, the series…

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