The Thai Language has 32 vowels which are generally categorized into three groups as follows:
This is step 2 of learning Thai, the second thing that you have to learn apart from the Thai Consonants or Thai Alphabet is the Thai Vowels.
Short Vowels consist of –ะ –ิ –ึ –ุเ–ะแ–ะโ–ะเ–าะ–ัวะเ–ียะ
Long Vowels consist of –า –ี –ือ –ูเ– แ– โ– –อ –ัว
Irregular Vowels consist of –ำใ– ไ– เ–าฤฤๅ (ฦฦๅ *no longer used)
As for the Irregular Vowels, most of them are transferred to ‘Long Vowels’ group except ฤ . And the reason we call them ‘Irregular Vowels’ is that they have the sounds of consonants blended in themselves as follows:
–ำ= –ะ with ม(m-sound)
ไ– = –ะ with ย(y-sound)
ใ– = –ะ with ย(y-sound)
ฤๅ=รือ (ร with–ือ)
ฤ =รึ (ร with –ึ )
The main reason we have to categorize Thai Vowels into 2 groups is based on sounds; short sound and long sound, the vowels also play a major role in tones, pronunciation and grammar. The two groups of vowels will define the Thai syllables or Thai words to Dead Syllables and Live Syllables. We spend a longtime practising this with our students at our Thai Language School – but don’t be put off this comes over time …even Thai nationals can get this wrong!
What are the Dead syllables and Live Syllables? To be continued…
Thai Language Teacher