How To Speak Thai - Thai Language

The Thai language has it's own unique script with 44 consonants and 32 different vowels, though not all of these have a unique pronunciation. Many of the Thai consonants are very easy to pronounce, as there are exact or almost exact equivalents in English. They are pronounced as follows:

b As in back.
bp

This is a sound halfway between b and p. If you have trouble saying it, pronouncing it as either b or p will often be understood.

ch

As in chair.

d
As in down.
dt This is a sound halfway between d and t. Again, saying it either as d or t will often be understood.
f
As in food.
g As in gold. It is never pronounced as a 'soft' sound, such as in the English "gem".
h
As in holiday.
j As in just.
k
As in kill.
l As in lemon.
m As in man
n As in never.
ng
As in sing. This is a difficult sound because, unlike in English, it can come at the start of words as well as at the end e.g. ngern (money). Practice by saying words like 'singing' without the si in front.
p As in pine.
r
As in red.
s As in seat.
t
As in take.
w

As in window.

y As in yes.

Though this is all of the consonant sounds, the range of consonant sounds which can come at the end of a syllable or word is limited only to p, t, k, y, n, w, and ng. When a consonant finishes a Thai word it is usually only half-pronounced.

The l and r sounds are often used almost interchangeably in Thai, though they are separate sounds. It's done because the proper r sound is quite hard to say, even for many Thais as well as non-native speakers. It should correctly be slightly trilled, but if you can't do this the l sound is closer to being correct than the flat English r.

It's very common when speaking Thai to drop the second consonant sound if two occur consecutively, so glai will be pronounced as gai, bplao as bpao, krap like kap etc...Like the swapping of the l and r sounds, this is not technically correct Thai (you wouldn't hear a TV newsreader doing it, for instance) but it is a widespread practice and one many non-native speakers also adopt when learning Thai. A stranger change that also sometimes occurs is when a gw sound is sometimes pronounced as f.

The vowels are, by a distance, the trickiest parts of learning to speak Thai as quite a few simply have no equivalent in English. A approximate guide of to how to say most of the vowel sounds is below:

a As in fan.
ah Like the ar sound in park.
ai

As in Thai. This can be a long or a short sound, unlike in English.

air
As in hair. This can be a long or a short sound, unlike in English.
ao As in Lao. This can be a long or a short sound, unlike in English.
ay
As in day. This can be a long or a short sound, unlike in English.
e As in pen.
ee
As in seen.
er As in letter, but pronounced with a lot more emphasis than you would in English - it's more like lettER. This can be a long or a short sound, unlike in English.
eu There is no English equivalent to this sound. The closest is the sound of revulsion eugh ! This can be a long or a short sound, unlike in English.
eu-a There is no English equivalent to this sound. It is pronounced the same as eu above, but with a sound after.
i As in bin
ia Like the ear sound in near, but without the r sound. This can be a long or a short sound, unlike in English.
o
As in gone.
oh As in go.
oie There is no English equivalent to this sound. It sounds similar to the French word oeil. In English, it's approximately similar to a long distorted oi sound.
oo As in shoot
oi
Like the oy sound in toy.
or Like the aw sound in dawn. This can be a long or a short sound, unlike in English.
u
As in Luke, not the u in bun. This is the short equivalent to the long oo sound.
ua There is no real equivalent to this sound in English, but it is approximately similar to the ewer sound in brewer. This can be a long or a short sound, unlike in English.
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it is very useful website to understand bangkok..
' Qim
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