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  1. #1
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    Question Consonant chaos and confusion

    I'm beginning to understand how to read Thai, but there is one thing that keeps confusing me.

    How the hell are you supposed to know when two consonants should be pronounced together and when they should be pronounced with an 'a/o' sound in the middle?

    Some examples:
    ถนน - thanon (street), a/o sound between all the consonants
    ประตู - bradoo (door), no a/o sound between ป and ร
    ใกล้ - glai (close), no a/o sound between ก and ล้

    It seems random when to pronounce an 'a/o' sound in the middle and when not to. Is there some secret rule that I ought to know?

  2. #2
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    First one is simple.
    Tor tahaan Nor Noo Nor Noo makes no sense without vowels.
    Given the fact that it is a 2 syllable word without any vowels written, the first one is always A, second one O.
    As in sakon nakhon. สกลนคร
    A one syllable word without a vowel it is O. As in nok นก Bird.
    ปร is an often used consonant cluster, to the best of my knowledge (which is somewhat limited I`ll admit) it is never pronounced with an inserted a/o vowel.
    ใกล้ the mai muan vowel ai is linked to the gl consonant cluster. there can be no insertion of another vowel in this collocation.

    The linquists in here may have a better or more accurate description. Once you have learnt to read and recognize words, you dont give it much thought anymore.

    สวัสดี sawasdee. How would one know that one has to write the vowel a in the second syllable and not the first one? Or why not in both syllables? This one sure beats me.

  3. #3
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    melvbot's Avatar
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    Im curious about learning to read Thai. Where/whats the best place to start?

  4. #4
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    ChiangMai noon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by melvbot
    Where/whats the best place to start?
    i used the Benjawan Poomsan Becker book,' thai for beginners'.

    then bought lots of kids books.

    only takes a few months.

  5. #5
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    ^ Benjawin Poomsan-Becker's books are great for learning to read and write...
    There's a series of 3 starting with the absolute basics.
    It's a bit like going back to nursery school again, but a few months of hard study will have you reading fairly well...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiangMai noon
    i used the Benjawan Poomsan Becker book,' thai for beginners'
    ...Beat me to it...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pescator
    Once you have learnt to read and recognize words
    quite.

    i think you learn to sight read, not phonetically spell out words after a while.

    bit like you do with English.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pescator
    สวัสดี sawasdee. How would one know that one has to write the vowel a in the second syllable and not the first one? Or why not in both syllables? This one sure beats me.
    i have no idea either but it's more like swadee than sawadee innit?

  9. #9
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    CharleyFarley's Avatar
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    Before I die I really would like to read , write and speak Thai.

    Any E-book versions of the above?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharleyFarley
    Before I die I really would like to read , write and speak Thai.
    don't know, but can't you buy it where you are?

    seriously it's not very hard.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharleyFarley
    Any E-book versions of the above?
    More than likely, but you'd really need to get a hard copy of the book if you want to learn to speak well too. It comes with a couple of cd's.
    It's a very popular book, you should be able to get a copy in your area.

  12. #12
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    Advice taken, thanks

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pescator View Post
    First one is simple.
    Tor tahaan Nor Noo Nor Noo makes no sense without vowels.
    Given the fact that it is a 2 syllable word without any vowels written, the first one is always A, second one O.
    As in sakon nakhon. สกลนคร
    A one syllable word without a vowel it is O. As in nok นก Bird.
    ปร is an often used consonant cluster, to the best of my knowledge (which is somewhat limited I`ll admit) it is never pronounced with an inserted a/o vowel.
    ใกล้ the mai muan vowel ai is linked to the gl consonant cluster. there can be no insertion of another vowel in this collocation.

    The linquists in here may have a better or more accurate description. Once you have learnt to read and recognize words, you dont give it much thought anymore.

    สวัสดี sawasdee. How would one know that one has to write the vowel a in the second syllable and not the first one? Or why not in both syllables? This one sure beats me.
    Excellent, thanks. It helped a lot.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silent Ninja
    ประตู - bradoo (door), no a/o sound between ป and ร
    First letter is pa pla not baw bi mi, the doo is not a d but a t sound, the ะ is an uh sound the doo dad I cant find below the ต is an oo like in who.

    Pratu

  15. #15
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    Since there are no official transcription for Thai letter, it all comes down to how we pronounce Latin letters.

    Being Danish I probably pronounce things differently from you.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by melvbot View Post
    Im curious about learning to read Thai. Where/whats the best place to start?
    Certainly, if you already comprehend and understand {or not} the spoken language, the written form comes much easier - because if you have a Thai instructor you figure it out by see and say methods.

  17. #17
    Member Ramseth's Avatar
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    Hello all, I'm quite a newcomer to this forum. I can speak conversational and read some Thai now. I probably can recognise all 42(+2 obselete) consonants, 32 vowels and 4 tone marks now.

    I started with a kindergarten Ko-Kai Kho-Khai chart from a night market several years ago. It cost my then-girlfriend 20bht, a very inexpensive but hearty gift. She encouraged me to learn to read Thai. Later, I discovered Benjawan Poomsan Becker's Thai for Beginners in a bookshop. If I remember correctly, it set me back about 250bht or so. Well worth the while and value beyond it's price.

    I'd wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wishes to learn to read and write basic Thai. The only thing is, being deep-mindset in Roman alphabet, the Poomsan transliteration carried literal precision in transliteration a bit too far and too different from the traditionally accepted Thai-Romanisation system.

    Otherwise, in fact in any case, it's a great book to begin learning Thai with.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silent Ninja View Post
    Since there are no official transcription for Thai letter, it all comes down to how we pronounce Latin letters.

    Being Danish I probably pronounce things differently from you.
    Just for the record, I thought you transliterated them 100% correct. But then again I am danish too

    Cheers

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by aging one View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Silent Ninja
    ประตู - bradoo (door), no a/o sound between ป and ร
    First letter is pa pla not baw bi mi, the doo is not a d but a t sound, the ะ is an uh sound the doo dad I cant find below the ต is an oo like in who.

    Pratu
    I follow your reasoning, but also know there are many ways to transliterate Thai.
    The confusion between ก and ข kills me Gs and Ks almost completely interchangeable.

    The doo-dad อู is sara-uu, a long u sound.

  20. #20
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    Well I've got the BPB book and CD - brilliant. Why ?, because it gets you to read and write the Thai characters immediately. Absolutely no point in turning the page unless you learn what has gone before.

    I'm full of confidence I'll be reading ( albeit slowly ) in a few months.

    How on earth did such a simple minded nation of rice farmers end up with such a complicated language ?

    Learning English would surely be piss easy for them
    "The supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive."

  21. #21
    Member Ramseth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharleyFarley View Post
    How on earth did such a simple minded nation of rice farmers end up with such a complicated language ?

    Thai originated as a simple monosyllabic language. However, as with other monosyllabic languages (e.g. Chinese, Vietnamese), being monosyllabic inadvertently comes with multi-tones since each syllable stands alone and can be assigned different tones for different meanings. Multi-tones isn't practicably possible with polysyllabic languages (e.g. English, Japanese).

    Therefore, you can hear Thai or Chinese speakers breaking up polysyllabic English words and speaking in an accent which is multi-tonal. And also, you can hear English or Japanese speaking a series of Thai words jointedly in a flat tone accent. It takes some time for polysyllabic tongues to get adjusted to monosyllabic muti-tonal tongues, and vice versa.

    Thai written script looks like most Indian written scripts (e.g. Hindi, Tamil) because the designs are based on Sanskrit, with the main difference being Thai script has consonant classes and tone marks. Just like Japanese script looks like Chinese script because the designs are based on Chinese.

    Thai as a basically monosyllabic language is complicated by the large number of Pali and English loanwords, so that it's not as purely monosyllabic as Chinese now. Just like Japanese as a basically polysyllabic language is complicated by the large number of monosyllabic Chinese loanwords, so that it's not as purely polysyllabic as English now.

  22. #22
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    I feel a little bit 'sylly' after that thanks Ramseth.

    What your saying is that one needs a different mindset or approach to learning Thai?

  23. #23
    Member Ramseth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharleyFarley View Post
    Learning English would surely be piss easy for them

    LOL! Our language always feel easy for us and others' language always feel difficult for us. It's only natural. We learned English seemingly effortlessly as a kid. Thais learned Thai seemingly effortlessly as a kid too.

    However, what we feel easy with, i.e. English, is difficult for Thais, and vice versa of course. For example, English has tenses and inflections which most Thais find difficult to figure out, and Thai has consonant classes and tones which most English speakers find difficult to sort out.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharleyFarley View Post
    Well I've got the BPB book and CD - brilliant. Why ?, because it gets you to read and write the Thai characters immediately. Absolutely no point in turning the page unless you learn what has gone before.

    I'm full of confidence I'll be reading ( albeit slowly ) in a few months.

    How on earth did such a simple minded nation of rice farmers end up with such a complicated language ?

    Learning English would surely be piss easy for them
    .
    The Thai are far from simple minded and the language is not complicated. However, they do pick up English quite easily. 2 wrong out of 3 is failing.

    .

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by somtamslap View Post
    ^ Benjawin Poomsan-Becker's books are great for learning to read and write...
    There's a series of 3 starting with the absolute basics.
    It's a bit like going back to nursery school again, but a few months of hard study will have you reading fairly well...
    I am not fully agreeing with you there. The step from book two to three is too big, tehre should be something inbetween.

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