Special characters in Thai language
Thai alphabet or Thai script (อักษรไทย /àk-sŏn tai/) has 44 consonants (พยัญชนะ /pá-yan-chá-ná/) and 32 vowels (สระ /sà-rà/). The vowel can be grouped as short vowels (สระเสียงสั้น /sà-rà-sĭang-sân/) and long vowels (สระเสียงยาว /sà-rà-sĭang-yaao/). In addition, Thai language also has special characters and 4 tone marks!
Yes… Apart from Thai consonants, vowels and tone marks, Thai alphabet also has special characters or other symbols that you may see from time to time in daily life. However, some characters are obsoleted and no longer used in daily life, so I won’t include them in this blog but you may find them in ancient Thai books or on Wikipedia.
Here are special characters in Thai
(that we still use in daily life!)
็ : Shortening Character
ไม้ไต่คู้ /mái dtàai kóo/ is the vowel-shortening mark ็ in Thai written language. You will often see /mái dtàai kóo/ in common Thai words such as เป็น /bpen/ verb to be, เล็ก /lék/ small, เค็ม /kem/ salty, เผ็ด /pèt/ spicy and more.
From the example above, เ- /-ay/ as in May is normally a long vowel in Thai but when there is /mái dtàai kóo/ above the initial consonant, it will change the vowel sound to the short vowel like เ-็ /-e/ as in pet.
์ : Silence Character
ไม้ทัณฑฆาต /mái tan-tá-kâat/ is the silence mark ์ in Thai language and is often referred to as ตัวการันต์ /dtuua gaa-ran/ a letter that is not pronounced because there is ์ on top of it. You will often see /mái tan-tá-kâat/ in Thai language as well as load words from foreign language written in Thai.
For example, กอล์ฟ is pronounced /góf/ instead of golf and การันต์ is pronounced /gaa-ran/ without the ต /-t/ sound at the end.
ๆ : Repetition Character
ไม้ยมก /mái yá-mók/ is the repetition character ๆ in Thai language. /mái yá-mók/ is used to mark the previous word is repeated.
For example, “มาก ๆ” is read as “มาก มาก /mâak mâak/” which mean very much. It’s often used in daily life, so that we don’t need to type the same word 2 times. Genius!
ฯ : Abbreviation Character
ไปยาลน้อย /bpai yaan nói/ is the abbreviation character ฯ , so it’s a character showing the word has been abbreviated.
“กรุงเทพฯ /grung têp/” from กรุงเทพมหานคร /grung têp má-hăa ná-kon/ (Bangkok)
“นายกฯ /naa-yók/” from นายกรัฐมนตรี /naa-yók rát-tà-mon-dtree/ (prime minister;PM)
ฯลฯ : Et Cetera / etc. Character
ไปยาลใหญ่ /bpai yaan yài/ is the character for Et Cetera in Thai ฯลฯ, it’s pronounced as “และอื่น ๆ /láe-èun-èun/“. We can put ฯลฯ after all the example in a sentence to indicate that there are still many more.
For example, อย่างเช่น กล้วย ส้ม มะม่วง ฯลฯ
/yàang chên · glûuay · sôm · má-mûuang · láe èun èun/
(such as bananas, oranges, mangoes, etc.).
Need more help?
If you are still struggling with trying to learn how to read and write Thai by yourself but not successful yet, please check out my Read Thai in 2 Weeks intensive course! I can help you master all you need for reading & writing: consonants, vowels, special characters, tone marks, tone rules and exceptions!
Learning Thai isn’t as complicated as it seems. With the right way to learn, you can learn how to read and write Thai successfully! I hope to see you soon. 🙂