In Thai language, there are 3 /s/ sounds in high class consonant. Students might wonder how to use them and why we have 3 different symbols just to represent only one sound.
Actually, we follow the origin of words in writing system although we might not pronounce them as the native speakers do. In Sanskrit language, there are ศ ษ and ส because they pronounce them differently.
If you know how to read and write Thai, you will notice that Pali language and Sanskrit language influence Thai language deeply. In Pali and Thai, there are only ส while the 3 consonants are used in Sanskrit. That means all words with ศ or ษ are originally from Sanskrit.
During 1940 – 1944, the government of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram specified to use only ส; however, ศ and ษ resumed again after that. Nowadays we write ศ ษ or ส following the writing rules of Pali-Sanskrit.
If you don’t have any clues about Pali-Sanskrit, I’d like to suggest you to remember words by heart. If not, feel free to learn both before coming back to learn Thai. LOL Have fun!!!
Some example words of ศ
ประกาศ (n/v) announce; announcement
พฤศจิกายน (n) November
พิศ (v) look, watch
เลิศ (adj/adv) excellent
ศรัทธา (v) believe in
ศัตรู (n) enemy
ศาล (n) court; shrine
ศาสนา (n) religion
Some example words of ษ
กษัตริย์ (n) king
พฤษภาคม (n) May
พิษ (n) poison
ภาษา (n) language
ภาษี (n) tax
รักษา (v) medical treat, cure
Some example words of ส
ทาส (n) slave
พฤหัสบดี (n) Thursday
วาสนา (n) fortune, destiny
สงฆ์ (n) monk
สวรรค์ (n) heaven
สัตย์ (n/adj) honest
สัตว์ (n) animal
สาร (n) text, message
สูตร (n) formula
หงส์ (n) swan
โอกาส (n) opportunity
If you are looking for a free Thai lessons online, you will hear teachers call themselves ‘ครู’ /kroo/
ครู /kroo/ is originally from a Pali ครุ /kru/ or Sanskrit คุรุ /kuru/. It means heavy; someone with respectful behaviors and a teacher.
Normally people use it to call teachers in kindergartens and schools. It can be a noun and a pronoun. That means students will call their teacher ‘ครู’ /kroo/. It’s pretty common to hear teachers call themselves ‘ครู’ /kroo/ when they talk with their students, too.
What’s about อาจารย์ /aa-jaan/?
Do you know ‘www.ajarn.com’? It is a famous job-listing website for foreign teachers in Thailand. I think that you can guess by now how the word ‘อาจารย์’ /aa-jaan/ relates to teaching job.
อาจารย์ /aa-jaan/ is from Sanskrit meaning a role model; a teacher and an instructor.
Normally, we use this word to call lecturers or professors in colleges and universities. We also use it to address someone as a master of any kinds of knowledge although that person might not teach for a living.
I hope that you enjoy learning Thai with your present ‘ครู’ /kroo/ or ‘อาจารย์’ /aa-jaan/. J
P.S. Since there is no official, mandatory standard of Thai Romanization, not like Pinyin for Mandarin. That’s why, you might see various ways of romanizations. Some very academic schools might prefer to use phonetic symbols. Other schools prefer different romanizations. I also prefer to use the romanization but my version might not be exactly the same as any others.
Anyway, if you are certain that you will live here and you prefer to blend in the society or at least understand them from the eyes of local people, learning the language is the first door for you. Being able to read Thai is also very important in order to improve your comprehension in language and culture in a long run.
I wish you luck! LOL