Archive for the ‘Thai Alphabet’ Category

Learn Thai Squiggles Iphone App is Live

April 28, 2011 3 comments

Learn Thai Squiggles has been approved and is now available in the app store.  Have a look!

Thanks to all the testers.  You will be receiving a free copy shortly if you haven’t already.


Remembering Middle Class Letters

June 11, 2010 7 comments

I have been messing around with Sketchcast lately and it has some potential.

I created a quick one introducing the middle class letters. Let me know if people would be interested in more of these.

Please forgive my writing as it was done with a mouse.

Here is a deck to practice the letters from the sketchcast. The most important thing at this point is connecting the English words with the letter. Hearing the words over and over should serve to anchor the sound in your mind as well.
Anki Deck – Mid Class Consonants

Remembering the Middle Class Consonants

Middle Class Story – Transcript

November 28, 2009 Leave a comment

ก็อักษรกลาง อักษรกลางภาษาไทยจะมีทั้งหมด 9 ตัว ก็จะมี  จ ด ต ฎ ฏ บ ป อ ซึ่งการจะจำแบบนี้ มันจะเป็นเรื่องที่ยาก Brett ก็เลยแนะนำวิธีการจำเป็นเรื่องเป็นราวให้ง่ายๆ ดังต่อไปนี้ ก็คือ มีเด็กอยู่ 1 คน เค้าชอบเลี้ยงสัตว์ซึ่งสัตว์ที่เค้าเลี้ยงจะมีอยู่ 3 ชนิดก็คือ มีลา มีเต่า แล้วก็มีไก่ ซึ่งทั้ง 3 ชนิดเนี่ย เด็กคนนี้ก็เลยต้องเลี้ยงให้มันสามารถดำรงชีวิตอยู่ได้ ก็เลยเอาไปใส่ไว้ในอ่าง ซึ่งเป็นอ่างน้ำที่ใหญ่ๆ แล้วก็จะต้องเลี้ยงอาหารให้กับมันเพราะว่าไม่งั้นมันก็จะไม่มีชีวิตรอด ซึ่งอาหารที่เค้าจะให้ก็คือ ใไม้ แล้วถ้าเกิดว่าเราเลี้ยงมันแล้วเราไม่ ไม่ปิดมันเงี่ย มันก็จะทำให้มันสามารถหนีออกไปได้ใช่ไหม หลบหนีออกไปได้ ฉะนั้นเราต้องหาอะไรสักสิ่งหนึ่งมาปิด ซึ่งฝามันก็หายไปแล้ว ก็เลยใช้านที่มีอยู่ที่บ้านมาปิด ก็จะทำให้มันสามารถที่จะดำรงชีวิตอยู่ในบ้านเรา ที่เราเลี้ยงได้ก็ จบ ก็จะมีครบหมดเลยทั้ง 9 ตัวลองไปหาดูในเรื่องราวเมื่อกี้ (อืม…)

หมายเหตุ….ตัว ฎ ฏ จะไม่มีเพราะมันออกเสียงเหมือน ด ต ตามลำดับอยู่แล้วเลยไม่มีในเรื่อง


ก็อักษรกลาง – So, these middle class consonants…

อักษรกลางภาษาไทยจะมีทั้งหมด 9 ตัว Thai has 9 middle class consonants.

ก็จะมี – They are..ก จ ด ต ฎ ฏ บ ป อ

ซึ่งการจะจำแบบนี้ – and so remembering them like this

มันจะเป็นเรื่องที่ยาก – can be difficult

Brett ก็เลยแนะนำวิธีการจำเป็นเรื่องเป็นราว – So Brett came up with a story

ให้ง่ายๆ – to make it easier.

ดังต่อไปนี้ – As follows…

ก็คือ มีเด็กอยู่ 1 คน – So there is this kid…

เค้าชอบเลี้ยงสัตว์ – and he likes keeping pets.

ซึ่งสัตว์ที่เค้าเลี้ยงจะมีอยู่ 3 ชนิด and he has 3 different pets (kinds).

ก็คือ มีลา He’s got a fish.

มีเต่า a turtle

แล้วก็มีไก่ and a chicken

ซึ่งทั้ง 3 ชนิดเนี่ย and so all 3 of these animals

เด็กคนนี้ – so this kid

ก็เลยต้องเลี้ยงให้มันสามารถดำรงชีวิตอยู่ได้ – takes care of all of these animals

ก็เลยเอาไปใส่ไว้ในอ่าง and keeps them in a basin (that shower bucket thing)

ซึ่งเป็นอ่างน้ำที่ใหญ่ๆ a big bucket/basin

แล้วก็จะต้องเลี้ยงอาหารให้กับมัน – and of course he needs to feed them

เพราะว่าไม่งั้นมันก็จะไม่มีชีวิตรอด because if he didn’t how would they survive?

ซึ่งอาหารที่เค้าจะให้ก็คือ and he feeds them

ไม้ leaves

แล้วถ้าเกิดว่าเราเลี้ยงมันแล้วเราไม่ so if we have these animals

ไม่ปิดมันเงี่ย and we don’t close/cover (up the basin)

มันก็จะทำให้มันสามารถหนีออกไปได้ใช่ไหม they’d be able to get out (of the basin where they are kept) right?

หลบหนีออกไปได้  they’d be able to escape

ฉะนั้นเราต้องหาอะไรสักสิ่งหนึ่งมาปิด – so we need to have something to cover the basin with

ซึ่งฝามันก็หายไปแล้ว – but we lost the lid

ก็เลยใช้าน – so we use a plate

ที่มีอยู่ที่บ้านมาปิด from the house to close it up

ก็จะทำให้มันสามารถที่จะดำรงชีวิตอยู่ในบ้านเรา which allows them to stay in the house

ที่เราเลี้ยงได้ก็ จบ so we can take care of them.  That’s it.

ก็จะมีครบหมดเลยทั้ง 9 ตัว Oh, and there are actually 9 letters in all.

ลองไปหาดูในเรื่องราวเมื่อกี้ (อืม…) But if you check the story I just told…

หมายเหตุ….ตัว ฎ ฏ the reason the othe other 2 letters ฎ ฏ

จะไม่มี are left out

เพราะมันออกเสียงเหมือน ด ต  because they sound the same as ด and ต

Remembering the Middle Class Consonants

August 27, 2009 1 comment

I came up with this story the other day while making flashcards for one of my students.  Mnemonics are great.

In order for this mnemonic to work properly, you should try to imagine the story in your mind.  Pictures you make in your head are easier to remember than actual images.

To reinforce it you might make SRS cards to quiz you on the story.   Ex – Q – What pets does the middle class kid keep?  A ปลา ไก่ เต่า

There is a middle class kid (เด็ก) who likes to keep pets.

He has a fish (ปลา), a turtle (เต่า) and a chicken (ไก่).

Where does he keep these pets?  In his basin (อ่าง) of course.  (Actually try to imagine a big bucket with a chicken, a turtle and a fish swimming around inside it always bumping into each other)

He needs to feed the pets.  They eat leaves (ใบ ไม้).

Also, he needs to make sure they don’t get out so he keeps a big plate (จาน) on top of the อ่าง.

Yes, I left out the other 2 as they aren’t vital when you first start reading.  If you are solid on this story its easy to add in the other ones.

Low Class Consonants

May 29, 2009 Leave a comment

There are 24 low class consonants.  This is the biggest group of letters.  This post will just cover some of the more common ones.  It is assumed you are familiar with the vowels covered in previous alphabet-related posts.  These vowels are  – อา อิ อี  เอ เอา ไอ ใอ ออ  อุ  อู

If it isn’t already obvious, the best way to go about this is to memorize the 2 other groups of letters (high and mid) so that when you encounter a letter that you know isn’t high or mid, you know its low.  With a bit of time spent trying to read, it will all become second nature and you will no longer need to think in terms of high, mid or low.  

As I mentioned above, there are 24 letters in the low class.  Today we are just going to cover 14 of them.   As usual, I strongly reccomend learning the alphabet ASAP as it is very difficult to separate sounds within a language while you are associating the sounds with your native alphabet/sylalbary.  So learn the damn alphabet already.  Its easy.   If you are going to be in Chiang Mai (or Bkk if I happen to be there) and need help, I can pound the bulk of the alphabet into your head in 6-8 nearly painless hours and help you start reading (fun easy stuff) so it stays put.  

ค ง ช ซ ท น พ ฟ ภ ม ย ร ล ว 


(คอ ควาย) is very much like the ‘k’ in English.  You should note that the only difference (in appearance) between this letter and ด (ดอ เด็ก) is the circle placement.  

Mnemonic – The line in the middle is an arm.  The circle is a fist holding a dagger.  If you are trying to kill someone the blade of the dagger is coming out the bottom of your hand while you stab them you might shout “I’m gonna kill ya!” in order to remember the ‘k’ sound — ค 

If you are holding the dagger the other way (blade up) you are more likely to be ‘defending yourself.’ — ด

ง  (งอ งู) is like the ‘ng’ in singing, but in Thai it can be the first sound in a word.  The letter is called snake and it looks like one.  Or it looks like a lower-case ‘g’, whatever works for ya.  I’d go with a snake that makes งงงงง  sounds rather than hiss instead.

(ชอ ช้าง) This one is like a ‘ch.’ The name of the letter ‘ช้าง’ (chaang + high tone) means elephant so you might consider the last line which heads off to the top right being the elephant’s trunk.  

(ซอ โซ่) This is the only ‘s’ sound that is low class (the rest are high).  โซ่ means chain and has a nick in the tail of the elephant, so lets imagine a chain wrapped around the poor creature’s tail.  It helps to create a mental image.  

*This letter is the only ‘s’ sound that can be any tone (high class consonants leading a word restrict the word to rising, falling or low)

(ทอ ทหาร) is just like a ‘t’ and the letter’s name means soldier.  Maybe this soldier is holding one fist (the circle) high in some sort of salute….

(นอ หนู) – ‘n’  the name of the letter is ‘mouse’ or ‘rat.’  This letter looks a lot like an ‘N’ to me.  The connecting line in the English letter is mousing its way along the floor only to scamper up the other side.  

(พอ พาน) like a ‘p,’ and the name of the letter is a type of tray or dish that has a pedestal base.  Let’s just think of it as pedestal-ed plate (จาน) with a big P on it.  

(ฟอ ฟัน) like an ‘f,’ and the name means ‘tooth.’ 

(ภอ สำเภา) – ‘p’ – type of boat (junk).  

(มอ ม้า) ‘m’ – horse

(ยอ ยักษ์) ‘y’ – ‘giant’ *often used as a semi-vowel

(รอ เรือ) – ‘r’ (often pronounced as ‘l’ or half-ass’d ‘r’ *correct pronouciation involves a trill, but this is almost always dropped in colloqual speech)  – boat (any kind)

(ลอ ลิง) ‘l’ – monkey *monkey down on all 4’s with unusually long tail extending high over its head

(วอ แหวน) ‘w’ – a ring *Mnemonic – here someone has presented you with a very odd ring – its far too small to fit on your finger (the circle) and it has a long curved claw jutting out of the top.  Maybe if you just hung the claw over your finger… 


Middle and High Consonants Review

November 3, 2008 1 comment

I keep noticing lots of posts on other blogs about ways to learn the alphabet.  This has been going on for years.  Just learn the alphabet already.  It doesn’t matter how you memorize it, but you must realize that if you just memorize it and don’t actually try to read with someone who can correct your pronunciation (both to make sure you are reading the letters correctly and learning to work out which class rules apply to the syllable) then you are just wasting your time.  If you are in CM for a week or so sometime and need some help learning the alphabet let me know.  

On with the learnings…

While one may be intimidated by the rather large number of letters in the low class group, its not really that big of deal as you don’t actually need to memorize which letters are in this group.  If you’ve memorized the middle and high class consonants then the low class letters consist of the leftovers.  

So if you have it down fairly well that 

ข ฉ (ฐ) ถ ผ ฝ ศ ษ ส and ห  are all high, then you are well on your way.

If you are also pretty solid that

ก จ (ฎ ฏ) ด ต บ ป and อ or middle class, then you are set.  Everything else is low class.  The ones in ()’s are less important and while you should note them – you don’t need to stress about them.  

Thats 10 high class and 9 low letters whose class you NEED to know.  Years ago when I memorized these on my own, I memorized the following poem for Middle class.

 ไก่ จิก เฎ็ก ฏาย เด็ก ตาย บน ปาก โอ่ง 

let’s break it up even more – 

  • ไก่ จิก  – chicken pecks
  • เฎ็ก ฏาย – kid dies (ฎ and ฏ are identical in sound to ด and ต this is just funky spelling of the words ‘kid’ and ‘die’ to help us remember the middle class group)
  • เด็ก ตาย – kid dies
  • บน ปาก โอ่ง on-mouth-basin 

So imagine 2 kids standing by a big basin (its the big bucket-like thing that was/is used to bathe with when there is no running water) who are attacked and pecked to death by a rabid chicken.   Spend at least 15-20 seconds picturing that image and once you have the vocab down, you are set on the middle class.  Don’t just read my words, you need to actually create an image in your mind for it to stick.  

 ไก่ จิก เฎ็ก ฏาย เด็ก ตาย บน ปาก โอ่ง

Next up – High class.  While there is a poem for this one as well, I didn’t know about it when I was trying to figure out how to learn the different groups and a friend told me that he went with the circles on the letters.

ข ฉ (ฐ) ถ ผ ฝ ศ ษ ส and ห

Notice that except for the first and last letters, all the rest have circles that are ‘inside.’  You can argue about ฉ, but I consider the tail going up over the circle keeping it inside.  So lets make those circles balloons.  Balloons float up.  Up = high.  Thats it.  Worked for him and it worked for me.  

If you want poems for high class, here is one, but its more useful for a Thai kid who is comfortable with the vocab already.  I’d give the balloons a shot if I were you.  

ฃวด ของ ฉัน ใส่ ถุง ผ้า ฝาก ให้ เศรษฐี

bottle-of-mine put (in) bag-cloth leave-with-rich person

  • ฃวด ของ ฉัน – my bottle
  • ใส่ ถุง ผ้า put in cloth bag
  • ฝาก ให้ เศรษฐี leave with rich person

The Alphabet – High Class Consonants ข ฃ ฉ ฐ ถ ผ ฝ ศ ษ ส ห

July 3, 2008 Leave a comment

ผี ฝาก ถุง ข้าวสาร ให้ ฉัน

What’s this nonsense above us? Well, its just that for now. But soon, very soon, it will be much more.

First up – ข [ขอ ไข่] This is the 2nd letter of the alphabet. Yes the one right after ก [กอ ไก]่. What does this letter’s name mean? Well, ไข่ is an egg. Its pronounced much like a ‘k’. Along with its vowel, it sounds a something like ‘kai’. Can’t think of any words in English that have it. How about the last syllable in the name Malachai (that guy that chills behind the rows). As you no doubt remember ไก่ means chicken and ไข่ is egg. 1st and 2nd. The debate is over. The chicken came first.

Rules of the high class are kind of interesting. Any time there is no tone mark and no hard ending (endings that are like k/g, p/b or t/d) the words will take on a rising tone.  This applies for both long and short vowels.  Too easy eh?  Let’s go over 3 letters and then try some simple words.

ห [หอ หีบ]  This letter is the closest thing to an ‘H’ that you’ll find in Thai.  But remember its not an ‘H’, so its gonna do some things the English ‘H’ version doesn’t do.

ฝ [ฝอ ฝา] Here we have one of the ‘F’ – like letters.   Also, high class so rising tone on open endings.

  • หา – haa (long vowel + rising tone) to look for
  • ฝา – faa  (long vowel + rising tone) lid; cover

Now then, we need to learn some new vowels. These 2 are related and look very similar so lets learn ’em together.  Remember that อ is just a placeholder which you need in order to read the vowel.  The vowels are the semi-circle-ish shapes on top.  The only difference is that the long vowel has a line sticking up from it.

  • อิ /i/  as in ‘he’ but usually a bit shorter then English
  • อี /ii/ as in ‘he’ but usually a bit longer than English

ผี Remember this from above?  ผ is much like a ‘p’ – As this one is high class and we are throwing on that อี above, we are getting a sound just like when they say ‘P’ on Sesame Street.  Well its a long vowel, so make it a bit longer than normal. Um with a rising tone.  Lets change that …think something along the lines of …”I gotta peeee” and send that tone up high.

ผี means ghost btw

ฝี VS ผี – Notice that these letters are mighty similar.  Long vowels, rising tones.

  • ฝี – /fii/ Like the English ‘fee’ sorda
  • ผี – /pii/ ‘peeee’

Mnemonicalafrageous time – You hopefully remember from 3-5 seconds ago that ผี means ‘ghost’ – Um …maybe when you were a kid and you saw a ghost you had to ‘peeee’ or something?  Not great, but it might work.

ฝี – this means ‘boil’ as in the pus-filled kind – so lets say that the long part sticking up is a pus-filled abcess just waiting to burst.  And we can even take that a step farther and imagine that the boil is just so friggin large that if it does burst (and the long part falls off) you die and become a ghost.

Not working?  Go back and read the above again, but this time visualize it in your mind. Imaginative memory is an extremly powerful tool.  You won’t need to remember this stuff forever, but the quickest way to get through an alphabet is by making sure its stuck in your short-term memory until you can process the letters fast enough to graduate to basic reading.

Moving along…consider the following word

ฝาก  Do you remember that last letter?  Its a middle class consonant.  ก [กอ ไก่]

How about the vowel อา ?

ฝ + า = ฝา  lid – see above.  But if we throw on that last letter, everything changes!

ฝาก – Now that we have thrown a hard [k, p, t, b] ending on the tone is gonna change.  Remember I said only open vowels are rising.  With hard endings, we need to switch to a low tone.  The low tone is created in your chest as opposed to your neck or head.  You should feel it in your upper chest if you are producing the sound correctly.  It is difficult to say this tone loudly especially at first.

ฝาก  /faaak/ all k + g- like letters in Thai end with the same sound.  An unaspirated ‘k’ – This means you need to cut off the air before it comes out.

Think of how you say ‘Duck, duck, duck Goose’ to find that cut off ‘k’  and you’ll catch on.

ฝาก  – to deposit

So if we refer to that stuff at the top we now hopefully can read the first 2 words!  Wow, we sure are amazing.

ผี ฝาก – ghost /piii/long vowel, rising tone + deposit /faaak/ long vowel, low tone

What is this ghost trying to deposit?  We’ll get there in a sec.  Be patient.

First we need more vowels!  Did I mention that Thai has over 30 vowels?  Don’t worry, they each have only one sound.

อุ VS อู  –  As you may have already guessed, these vowels are also related.  The first one is of course the short vowel.

  • อุ is a short /u/ like in ‘where to?’
  • อู is a long /uu/ similar to ‘cool’ but your lips should be pursed into a fishy ‘o’ and hold it for a tad longer.

Now lets make some words.

Remember ง [งอ งู]  ?  Yea, well me neither, but we are going to need to if we are ever going to be able to talk about snakes.  Anyways, ง is like the /ng/ in sing and thing and bring.

งู (not a high class consonant!) is pronounced /ngoo/ refer to this post if you need a refresher on the wonders of the งู (snake).  If you still can’t figure out how to pronounce it, do tell me and I can explain in better detail how to find your งู.

Back to High Class – ถ [ถอ ถุง] This letter is just like the T in ‘Mr. T’.  Well almost.

ถ /taw/ /u/ /ng/ = ถุง /toong/ (like the ‘too’ in too much with an ‘ng’ attached to it)  rising tone

ถุง means ‘bag’  as in the paper or plastic variety – not backpacks or luggage.

ผี ฝาก ถุง – /piii/ /faaak/ /toong/  Ghost deposits bag

Letters letters letters!  Too many letters!  Gotta keep moving..

This next word is one of those you will here every day in Thailand.

ข้าว –  ข [ขอ ไข่] + า = ขา + ว = ขาว +    ้ = ข้าว

kaw + า  = kaah (rising tone because high class and open ending) +  ว = kaaaow **Imagine an excited kid saying “Wooow!” Now imagine that he is dyslexic, stutters and occasionally slips up with a lisp – erm..just change the ‘w’ sound to a ‘k’ might be easier.  So…

Wait, did I mention ว yet?  ว [วอ แหวน] is a semi-vowel.  Distant cousin of the ‘W’.  แหวน means ‘ring’.  When it comes at the end of a word it ‘w’-afies the word before it.  Think about what your mouth must do to change the word ‘Ho’ to ‘How’ and you should have a pretty good idea of what it does.

ข้าว is pronounced kaaow (becomes a falling tone due to the tone mark).  If it didn’t have the tone mark it would be a rising ขาว because its a high class consonant with a soft or open ending.

To be continued…..