The Thai Alphabet Poem

Recording Niwat

And I thought this was going to be easy…

When I started on the Thai Alphabet poem, I (wrongly) assumed it was going to be an quick post to write for WLT.

With one exception (when the Common Koel started serenading us from beyond the patio), recording with Niwat was the easy part. Sorting out what everything meant, not so easy.

But first, let’s get to the alphabet read by the wonderful (and patient) Niwat.

Note: If you find the script too small when reading along, adjust your browser by clicking on Command + to enlarge (Mac) and Control + (PC). Using the – key in place of the + takes it back down.

The Thai Alphabet poem in full…

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Niwat เอ๋ย ก ไก่ ไข่ ใน เล้า ขวด ของ เรา ควาย เข้า นา ฅน ขึงขัง ระฆัง ข้าง ฝา งู ใจ กล้า จาน ใช้ ดี ฉิ่ง ตี ดัง ช้าง วิ่ง หนี โซ่ ล่าม ที กะ เฌอ คู่ กัน หญิง โส ภา ชะฎา สวม พลัน ปะ ฏัก หุน หัน ฐาน เข้า มา รอง มน โฑ หน้า ขาว ผู้ เฒ่า เดิน ย่อง เณร ไม่ มอง เด็ก ต้อง นิมนต์ เต่า หลัง ตุง ถุง แบก ขน หทาร อด ทน ธง คน นิยม หนู ขวัก ไขว่ ใบ ไม ทับ ถม ปลา ตา กลม ผึ้ง ทำ รัง ฝา ทน ทาน พาน วาง ตั้ง ฟัน สะอาด จัง สำเภา กาง ใบ ม้า คึก คัก ยัก ษ์เขี้ยว ใหญ่ เรือ พาย ไป ลิง ไต่ ราว แหวน ลง ยา ศาลา เงียบ เหงา ฤา ษี หนวด ยาว เสือ ดาว คะ นอง หีบ ใส่ ผ้า จุฬา ท่า ผยอง อ่าง เนือง นอง นกฮูก ตา โต

Gor er-ee gor gài. Kor kài nai láo. Kor kuat kŏng rao. Kor kwaai kâo naa. Kor kon kĕung kăng. Kor rá-kang kâang făa. Nor ngoo jai glâa. Jor jaan chái dee. Chor chìng dtee dang. Chor cháang wîng nĕe. Sor sôh lâam tee. Chor gà cher kôo gan. Yor yĭng soh paa. Dor chá-daa sŭam plan. Dtor bpà tak hŏon hăn. Thor tăan kâo maa rong. Thor mon-tho náa kăao. Thor pôo tâo dern yông. Nor nen mâi mong. Dor dèk dtông ni-mon. Dtor dtào lăng dtoong. Tor tŏong bàek kŏn. Tor ta-haan òt ton. Tor tong kon ní-yom. Nor nŏo kwuk kwài. Bor bai máai táp tŏm. Bor bplaa dtaa glom. Por peung tam rang. For făa ton taan. Por paan waang dtâng. For fan sà-àat jang. Por săm-pao gaang bai. Mor máa kéuk-kuk. Yor yák kîeow yài. Ror reua paai bpai. Lor ling dtài raao. Wor wăen long yaa. Sor săa-laa ngîap ngăo. Sor reu see nùat yaao. Sor sĕua daao ká nong. Hor hèep sài pâa. Lor jòo-laa tâa pà-yŏng. Or àang neuang nong. Hor nók hôok dtaa dtoh.

The Thai Alphabet poem (script, transliteration and translation)…

So, why did this part take the longest to suss? First off, some letters are now obsolete. Second, when using thai2english.com and available translations, some of the meanings were not my friends.

But, by persevering, then calling in my Thai teacher after I felt comfortable with my version, I believe I have a workable translation. A translation I can get into my head along with the Thai Alphabet Poem (my next trick).

What say you?

เอ๋ย ก ไก่
gor er-ee gor gài
A chicken.

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ไข่ ใน เล้า
kor kài nai láo
The eggs are in the coop.

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ขวด ของ เรา
kor kuat kŏng rao
The bottles belong to us.

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ควาย เข้า นา
kor kwaai kâo naa
The buffalo goes to the field.

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ฅน ขึงขัง
kor kon kĕung kăng
A serious person.

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ระฆัง ข้าง ฝา
kor rá-kang kâang făa
A bell beside a wall.

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งู ใจ กล้า
nor ngoo jai glâa
A brave snake.

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จาน ใช้ ดี
jor jaan chái dee
A good plate to use.

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ฉิ่ง ตี ดัง
chor chìng dtee dang
The handbells ring loud.

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ช้าง วิ่ง หนี
chor cháang wîng nĕe
The elephant runs away.

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โซ่ ล่าม ที
sor sôh lâam tee
The chain ties.

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กะ เฌอ คู่ กัน
chor gà cher kôo gan
A pair of trees.

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หญิง โส ภา
yor yĭng soh paa
A pretty girl.

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ชะฎา สวม พลัน
dor chá-daa sŭam plan
Put on the dancer’s crown.

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ปะ ฏัก หุน หัน
dtor bpà tak hŏon hăn
The rapid spear.

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ฐาน เข้า มา รอง
thor tăan kâo maa rong
The base supports.

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มณ โฑ หน้า ขาว
thor mon-tho náa kăao
Mrs. Montho has a white face.

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ผู้ เฒ่า เดิน ย่อง
thor pôo tâo dern yông
The old person walks hunched over.

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เณร ไม่ มอง
nor nen mâi mong
The novice does not look.

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เด็ก ต้อง นิมนต์
dor dèk dtông ni-mon
The children must invite.

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เต่า หลัง ตุง
dtor dtào lăng dtoong
The turtle has a humped back.

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ถุง แบก ขน
tor tŏong bàek kŏn
The bag carries.

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หทาร อด ทน
tor ta-haan òt ton
The soldier is patient.

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ธง คน นิยม
tor tong kon ní-yom
The people’s favourite flag.

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หนู ขวัก ไขว่
nor nŏo kwuk kwài
The rats run around.

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ใบ ไม ้ทับ ถม
bor bai máai táp tŏm
The leaves pile on each other.

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ปลา ตา กลม
bor bplaa dtaa glom
The fish has round eyes.

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ผึ้ง ทำ รัง
por peung tam rang
The bees make their hive.

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ฝา ทน ทาน
for făa ton taan
The lid is strong.

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พาน วาง ตั้ง
por paan waang dtâng
The tray is placed.

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ฟัน สะอาด จัง
for fan sà-àat jang
The teeth are very clean.

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สำเภา กาง ใบ
por săm-pao gaang bai
The junk spreads its sails.

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ม้า คึก คัก
mor máa kéuk-kuk
The horse chomps at the bit.

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ยัก ษ์เขี้ยว ใหญ่
yor yák kîeow yài
The giant has big fangs.

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เรือ พาย ไป
ror reua paai bpai
The boat rows past.

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ลิง ไต่ ราว
lor ling dtài raao
The monkey climbs the railing.

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แหวน ลง ยา
wor wăen long yaa
The ring is in lacquer.

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ศาลา เงียบ เหงา
sor săa-laa ngîap ngăo
The pavilion is lonely and quiet.

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ฤา ษี หนวด ยาว
sor reu see nùat yaao
The forest hermit has a long mustache.

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เเสือ ดาว คะ นอง
sor sĕua daao ká nong
A tiger leopard.

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หีบ ใส่ ผ้า
hor hèep sài pâa
A trunk of clothes.

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จุฬา ท่า ผยอง
lor jòo-laa tâa pà-yŏng
The chula kite poised to attack.

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อ่าง เนือง นอง
or àang neuang nong
A full basin.

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นกฮูก ตา โต
hor nók hôok dtaa dtoh
The owl has big eyes.

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And now for my notes on the Thai Alphabet Poem…

First off, เอ๋ย was an unknown, so I started googling.

เอ๋ย eeuy [a sound expressing affection or politeness, used after a vocative by a man or woman]

So we need to think of it as expressing fondness and affection towards a chicken? Hmmm…

I kept on and this one is good for now, but this one is getting even closer. And this conversation is interesting (I loved the comment about petting the chicken).

Finally, when I asked my teacher, she cleared it up by saying that it means nothing. That they put it in to make the song. Ok.

Next up, the obsolete words. When searching around the response was, ‘if we took them out of the song, then we’d have to write a new one!’ Again, ok.

ฃ [ฃวด [kor kuat] is obsolete, now replaced by ข [ไข่ [kho khai].

ฅ [คน [kho khon], now spelt คน [kon]

And then (as mentioned above), when I went to find out the meanings, I felt driven to come up with my own. Ditto on the ok.

Go ahead and add your opinions as this continues to be a learning process (for me).

Thai Alphabet Poem resources…

Learningthai.com/gorgai_poem: Thai Alphabet Song (offline for now)
Sound, script, transliteration and translation.

Paknam Web Thailand Forum: Thai Alphabet Song
Thai script only.

Paknam Web Thailand Forum: The Thai Alphabet Song
Interesting conversation.

Thai-language.org: เอ๋ย
An explanation.

YouTube: Thai Alphabet ( ก เอ๋ย ก ไก่ )
Not for children.

Resources of interest…

An Alternative Presentation of the Thai Consonants
The ordering of the Thai letters comes from how they are articulated by your speech organs.

In Search of Kaw Kay, by Anake Nawigamune (ISBN 974-8211-09-6)
A guide to the history of the alphabet song (in Thai). If anyone knows where to source this book, I’d be awfully chuffed…

www.sarakadee.com: Ancient Thai Alphabet flash cards.

Wikipedia: Thai Alphabet

And remember, if you want to view the Thai script larger or smaller: on a Mac Command + to increase Command – to decrease. On a PC it’s Control + to increase Command – to decrease.

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25 Responses to “ The Thai Alphabet Poem ”

  1. Do you believe that I can’t say ก to ฮ by not reading its script? And many Thai can’t. You’ve probably heard this before. A to Z is much easier.

    I still don’t hear your voice in this entry.

    One day we’ll meet and sing this poem together. No way!!!!

    Off to see the links of those I-can’t-pronounce-their-names artists.

    Jessis last blog post..I’ve Broken Out In a Rash!! Help!!

  2. Back…

    Holy!! their work looks so weird to me. But I like the work of Lalique. Maybe I like glass. I’ll read it tomorrow as now my eyes are getting tired.

    G’night.

    Jessis last blog post..I’ve Broken Out In a Rash!! Help!!

  3. I’ve been told by several Thais that they don’t know the order of the Thai Alphabet (it’s HUGE!).

    Nahh… my voice isn’t here as this one was recorded awhile ago. If I get a chance, I’ll record mine next Friday, when I have a class again (mine was today).

    And maybe you’ll record yourself singing the Alphabet Poem and send it over? Hmmmm? :-)

    Some of Catteau’s work is awful. It’s like he let his designers throw their work against a rough wall to see what stuck tight. But, others are wonderful. And those, I try to get my hands on.

  4. Thanks for this very informative post, for the links at the end and for the crystal clear recording of the poem. I’m not Thai, so maybe I’m wrong here, but it seems that you have misspelled “ฑ มน โฑ”; it should be “ฑอ มณโฑ”. At least, that’s how all the dictionaries I’ve checked spell it. On the other hand, a Google search for มณโฑ gets 46,400 results, and มนโฑ gets 34,300.

  5. Hi Kaki, Thanks! I had two local Thais look at it (my Thai teacher and Niwat). But as the spellings on the poem are the traditional ones from way back, maybe that’s the way they were spelled then? I will ask again though.

  6. I’ve just finished reading The Mystique of Lalique. I think I like this fellow. He brought art into everyday life by producing in mass so many people could enjoy his work. His work must be real good because though it’s in mass, people still admire him.

    I’m waiting to read your ศาลพระภูมิ story…

    Jessis last blog post..I’ve Broken Out In a Rash!! Help!!

  7. Lalique was a sure talent, as were the artists working for him. D’Avesn is the one I know the most about, but that’s mainly because some of his work is within my price range.

    Ah, Jessi, while I have you here… in the comment above yours there’s a query about proper spelling between “ฑ มน โฑ” and “ฑอ มณโฑ”. The poem was drafted many years ago, so I’m unsure of the proper spelling of the time.

  8. I google (google.co.th) มนโฑ and it asks me “Do you mean มณโฑ?” So, I guess มณโฑ could be the correct spelling. I also looked it up on online Thai-Thai dictionary, but there’s no มนโฑ or มณโฑ. Thai wikipedia has information of Ms.มณโฑ. She’s a character in a Thai folklore.

    Jessis last blog post..I’ve Broken Out In a Rash!! Help!!

  9. wait…maybe “Folklore” is not the right word. ok..she’s a character in Ramayana and in a Dharma (ธรรมะ) story.

    Jessis last blog post..I’ve Broken Out In a Rash!! Help!!

  10. Thanks Jessi. I looked at the two resources I have in the post (Packnam and Learningthai.com) and they both say มณ โฑ. Hmmm… so I wonder where I got มน โฑ from.

  11. Hey Cat,have you recovered from our rough journey to the Bangkok Beach? We’ll rack it up as an adventure! You took some fab photos though. Meanwhile,the Alphabet song is Great!-if we sing it every morning for a week?:)Also,THANK YOU SOOO MUCH for the hint about the font size; I’ve only been scanning and editing every sentence in Thai I’ve tried to learn online..I know how to turn this pooter on and type, that’s about it.
    p.s. only someone who was ‘there’ would be able to hear the little add-on at ‘yor yuk’ in the alphabet; I love it! Another take on ‘gor eee': rhyming purposes.Can’t wait to see what’s in store next; keep ‘em coming!

  12. Hey Lynn, I’m recovered (pretty much!) What a trip, yes? We’ve got to do that one again, only this time, check out some of the other places to visit.

    If we sing the Alphabet song for a week, together, we’d be laughing too hard to remember anything. But I’d love to give it a try. Especially if Niwat helps (if he’s not laughing too hard too ;-)

    The font size tip comes in handy for sure. If I had my act together, I’d enlarge the size of the Thai compared to English on this site. But, I’d have to fiddle with the CSS and I’ve been too swamped lately to do much on the blog design.

    ps back: It took me a minute… :-D

  13. My internet was not working the whole day yesterday. To be precise, the satellite receiver was broken. They’ve just changed it for me 10 minutes ago. I felt like being behind for a month, but in the meantime I finished one book, which is nice. Just FYI. :)

  14. How frustrating for you! I hate when that happens. It’s like my arm is cut off. A book lover, I also read when I’m internetless.

    Btw – have you seen the adult Thai Alphabet Cartoon at YouTube?

    I’ve been working with friends to write out the Thai script, then translate it into English. It’s been a lot of work.

    Learning Thai through cartoons is an excellent way to go, for sure. I just wish there were more available.

  15. Oh shit! It’s great!!

    Let me know if you need help in writing out the Thai script and translating.

    The guy who did this is very talented…

    Jessis last blog post..I’ve Broken Out In a Rash!! Help!!

  16. LOL! Yes, he’s a very talented designer.

    I got lucky and found it in my search for Thai Alphabet videos on YouTube.

    And since I can’t read Thai very well, I just HAD to take a shot at translating it.

    Thanks for the offer, I would LOVE your help in the Thai script and translations.

    What I’m doing now is cutting out spoken sentences (sound files) to match with Thai script, then matching that with translations / transliteration from thai2english.com, then on to translation.

    Yeah, I know… it’s a long process this way, but I’m driven :-)

    But as each sentence gets translated, it all unfolds for me. Quite exciting really. A great adventure.

    Btw – I’ll send it to you via email so you can see where I’m at.

    Again, thanks!

  17. send it here first (edited) Then I’ll answer you with my personal email.

    right now I’m helping my friend translate a menu from Thai into English. They’re opening a new resort in Pai. Any idea where I can find names of Thai dishes in English to save my time? Thanks.

    Jessis last blog post..I’ve Broken Out In a Rash!! Help!!

  18. I sure do. In my resources there are two Thai cooking blogs.

    Temple of Thai and Joy’s Thai Food Recipes & Cooking blog.

    I also have Thai cookbooks, so if you need anything else, just holler.

  19. Thanks, Cat

    I’ll try finish the menu tonight. There’re about 200 something dishes. I want to see what you like me to help.

    Jessis last blog post..I’ve Broken Out In a Rash!! Help!!

  20. You are translating 200 recipes tonight? Whoooh. That’s a lot of work.

    (two emails on the way…)

  21. Hi Cat, I’ve found that the Giant’s wife in question has an English name: she is Mandodari, the wife of Ravana (the aforementioned giant). Read all about it here http://www.urday.com/mandodari.html and have a nice day.

  22. Kaki, that’s a great find. Thanks! Which reminds me, I need to change the alphabet poem as you suggested… so that’s a double thanks from me :-)

  23. “First off, เอ๋ย was an unknown, so I started googling.

    เอ๋ย eeuy [a sound expressing affection or politeness, used after a vocative by a man or woman]

    So we need to think of it as expressing fondness and affection towards a chicken? Hmmm…”

    Oooops … most recently I had a debate with my boss who thought that vocative is one of the 6 Latin cases. Pointing on the fact that Serbo-Croatian has an instrumental which is not an ablative … he admitted that the 5th case of Latin was locative but not vocative …

    What has this to do with oei? Ko oei ko kai? Anyhow, the ko in this “memorizing” sentense is the only one which has a “vocative” but not a name. The kho has the name of khai, khuat, khwai, or khon, but not the sad and lonely ko oei (voca- but not locative).

    K called K of egg? Sweet K named K of egg?

    Btw… Thinking in German … easy to translate:

    Ko heißt K vom Huhn. Das kho vom Ei ist in einem erschöpften Zustand …

    aksarathais last blog post..Das leidige Thema: Transliteration, Transkription, Romanisierung und “Umschriften” – kann man das essen?

  24. ‘Ko heißt K vom Huhn. Das kho vom Ei ist in einem erschöpften Zustand’

    When I asked my Thai teacher about เอ๋ย, she said that it didn’t really mean anything. That it was put in there to make the sentence flow better.

    Not exactly like the Canadian ‘Ehhh?’ though…

    Vocative, ablative, locative… time to dust off the ‘ole grammar in 2009.

    Btw – Happy New Year everyone!

  25. […] Letters – Each letter in Thai has an accompanying symbol. It’s split into consonants in three classes including high, low, and middle. These classes combined with vowels create pronunciation rules. i.e. long or short A. More about this as I learn but for now I’m working on Middle Class consonants. See how long you can take watching this alphabet song video. There’s also a great blog where you can see the alphabet poem translated.  […]

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