THAI LANGUAGE LESSONS
L1(b) - Consonant Transliteration
Consonants are relatively easy to transliterate. The first letter of the Thai alphabet is Gor Gai. At the start of a syllable, it makes a 'g' sound. At the end of a syllable, it makes a 'k' sound. This is easy to transliterate.
There are still a few things to be aware of with Thai consonants.
There are 3 Thai consonants that do not exist in the Roman alphabet.
i) There is a sound that is halfway between a 'b' and a 'p'. We will write this as 'bp'. If you find it difficult to make this sound then err towards a 'p' sound.
ii) There is a sound that is halfway between a 'd' and a 't'. We will write this as 'dt'. If you find it difficult to make this sound then err towards a 't' sound.
iii) There is an 'ng' sound that can come at the start of a syllable. In English, we only have this sound at the end of syllables, e.g. 'singing'. This is the Thai consonant that many people find hardest to pronounce. It is an 'n' sound from further back in the throat. A good way to practice it is by repeating the Thai province name 'Phang Nga'. Because the 'ng' sound is at the end of the first syllable and the beginning of the second, you can roll them together to make the right sound.
There are 3 consonant sounds in English that do not exist in the Thai Language.
i) There is no 'v' sound in Thai.
ii) There is no 'z' sound in Thai
iii) There is no 'th' sound in Thai (as in 'the' or 'there').
In Thai, the 's' cannot roll into another consonant sound. Therefore, there are no sounds such as 'st', 'sp', 'sl', 'sh', etc (there is 'ch'). The Thai 's' is always followed by a vowel. This means Thais sometimes pronounce English words like 'sport' with an inherent vowel - 'sa-port'
Thai only allows 6 consonant sounds at the end of syllables. They are M, N, NG, K, P or T. This causes problems when transliterating English words to Thai. For example, the shopping mall 'Central' is generally called 'Centran'. This is because the Thai character for 'l' is pronounced 'n' when at the end of a syllable.
To see the full consonant transliteration system we are using, go to Appendix 1) Thai Alphabet Consonant