Thai is a Tai-Kadai language spoken by about 65 million people mainly in Thailand
(ประเทศไทย), and also in
the Midway Islands, Singapore, the UAE and the USA
Thai is closely related to Lao, and northern dialects of Thai are more or
less mutually intelligible with Lao, particularly the Lao spoken in northern
Thailand. Thai vocabulary includes many words from Pali, Sanskrit and Old
The Thai alphabet was probably derived from, or at least influenced by, the
Old Khmer alphabet. According to tradition it was created in 1283 by King
The Thai alphabet is used to write Thai, Sanskrit,
Pali, and a number of minority languages spoken in Thailand.
Type of writing system: syllabic alphabet consisting of 44 basic consonants, each
with an inherent vowel: [o] in medial position and [a] in final position.
The [a] is usually found in words of Sanskrit, Pali or Khmer origin while
the [o] is found native Thai words. The 18 other vowels and 6 diphthongs
are indicated using diacritics which appear in front of, above, below of
after the consonants they modify.
Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines.
8 of the letters are used only for writing words of Pali and Sanskrit origin.
For some consonants there are multiple letters. Originally they
represented separate sounds, but over the years the distinction between
those sounds was lost and the letters were used instead to indicate tones.
Thai is a tonal language with 5 tones. The tone of a syllable is
determined by a combination of the class of consonant, the type of syllable
(open or closed), the tone marker and the length of the vowel. More details.
There are no spaces between words, instead spaces in a Thai text
indicate the end of a clause or sentence.
Thai alphabet and pronunciation
The Royal Thai General System of Transcription (RTGS), the official
standard for the romanisation of Thai, is used here. Many other romanisation
systems are used elsewhere.
Consonants are divided into three classes: low (เสียงต่ำ),
mid (เสียงกลาง) and
high (เสียงสูง) , which help to determine
the tone of a syllable.
The sounds represented by some consonants change when they
are used at the end of a syllable (indicated by the letters on the right of the slash).
Some consonants can only be used at the beginning of a syllable.
Duplicate consonants represent different Sanskrit and Pali consonants sounds
which are pronounced identically in Thai.
The letter o ang acts as a silent vowel carrier at the beginning of words
that start with a vowel.
The names of the consonants are acrophonic and intended to help with learning them.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are
endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a
spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Thai alphabet for Sanskrit
These are the Thai letters used to write Sanskrit.