Jump to content

Learning Thai


Recommended Posts

Anybody here studying Thai? I want to start studying it soon, but I'm worried. I've chosen this language because I love the way it looks and I think it sounds pretty, too, but it looks like it'd be a nightmare to self-study. If anybody here knows or studies Thai, I'd be grateful for some tips :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I am not that fluent in Thai but I was born in a city only 2 hours away from the Thai border. My family and I traveled a lot across the border for holidays all the time. I am thus very familiar with the Thai language even though I did not study it formally.

The language is tonal like Chinese, so you really need to pay attention to the 5 tones. "Maa" can mean "horse", "dog" and "to come" when pronounced with specific tones. Also be careful because some words are used only by  men and some only by women. For example the word for "hello" is "Sawadee Khap" when said by men but "Sawadee Khaa" when said by women.

The writing is similar in principles to Indian Subcontinental languages like Hindi and Nepalese. Basically a character represents a consonant-vowel combination, like "Ko". By adding additional strokes on too, in front, under and around the characters, you change the pattern of the consonant-vowel combination. "Ko" becomes "ka", "kaa", "ki", "kee" and a lot of other combinations and each has 5 tonal variations. Many characters are only used in Sanskrit loanwords so they are pronounced the same in Thai but are written differently.

Last but not least, Thai is written with no spaces between words! A sentence is separated from another by a space but not individual words! You have to read long stretches of characters and learn to separate the words mentally.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for your detailed answer :) I am aware of those things and that's why I think learning Thai might be difficult. I also have a slight hearing inpairment and I wonder whether it'll influence my ability to learn the tones.

I know I have to start with learning the script, I'm just not sure what I'll do after that.

I'm so jealous of you leaving so close to the Thai border. I live close to the German border which is nice too, but German is not a very exciting country :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you can hear the difference when someone says 'Hello!' and 'Hello?', then I do not think you will have any problems when you learn to differentiate Thai words. Thai people also speak at a higher pitch than English speakers, so it will not be too difficult to diambiguate words.

Thai script is difficult in the beginning because of the unfamiliar shapes but once you learn it, reading it is actually easier than English because the complex rules are followed without exceptions. Even words borrowed from Sanskrit often use extra letters that are not pronounced, and a 'silencer' is added at the top of a letter or syllable to show that it is silent. Not even French does that!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...