Thai Language Tips
- Whenever you speak the Thai language, if you’re a man, you should end the sentence with the word kráp and ká for a woman. You should say it after sà-wàt-dii (Greeting / Hello, Hi) and kòrp-kun (Thank you). Sometimes we use kráp and ká for “yes”. If you hear Thai people talk on the phone you might hear them say only “ kráp kráp kráp “ all the time.
- If you want to speak Thai you should listen to Thai people speak English because they will do it in a Thai accent, for example, they won’t say the letter at the end of the words, as “important” will sound like “im-por-tεεn”, “most” will sound like “moot”, etc. Also, Thai people won’t have the little explosion at the end of the map, we will close our mouth after “p” but English people will end with their mouth open. A good example in Thai is “kráp “, don’t open your mouth after “p”.
- Thai people will also break the word up for example “smile”. We will say it as “sà-maai”, “sport” will become “sà-bpòrt”, “summer” will become “sàm-mə̂ə” and in this case, Thai people will make the last part louder.
- One of the most difficult things about speaking Thai is the tones because there are 5 tones to remember. There are low, middle, high, falling and rising, if you say it in the wrong tone, the word will have a different meaning. For example, if you say mai mài mâi mái măi in the right tone, it will mean “mile, new, no or to burn, wood or …… right?, silk”.
- There are some Thai words that most backpackers get wrong. For example, most people say Koh Samui for the islands. The word island should be pronounced with a short “Gòh” sound. The popular Thai beer Singha is called “sĭng-hăa” by most foreigners. Really, you should say “sĭng”! One more that I can think of now, Siam Square in Bangkok should be pronounced “sà-yăam”.
- Vowel length is very important when you speak Thai. If you make the sound of a word longer you might change the meaning! I know in English you can say “helooooo” if you like but you can’t in Thai.
- It is very difficult to write Thai words using English letters. I have only done this on some pages as a guide. I think it is much better if you try and learn the Thai alphabet. It is not as difficult as it sounds.
Thai Language Teacher