Category: Thai letters
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’d like to learn how to read and write Thai, normally you will start with alphabets, right?
In Thai language, there are 44 consonant letters. It’s funny because there are 2 characters which we don’t use anymore, but we still count them as part of our alphabets. Any ideas?
Right, I’m talking about ฃ and ฅ.
So, when did ฃ and ฅ be created and for what reason?
For the first question, we have got evidence from the King Ramkhamhaeng Insription, aka Ram Khamhaeng Stele (composed in 1292), that we did have these two letters starting from the beginning.
Referring to the inscription, you could find some examples of ฃ and ฅ, such as ฃึ้น, ฃุน, ฃาม, ฅำ, ฅู้ม, ฅวาม etc. and these two still be used until Rattanakosin Era (1782 – present).
ฃ and ฅ were left from the writing system firstly when the first Thai typewriter was developed by Edwin Hunter McFarland in 1892. Why? No space for all letters!
Although these two were still be used popularly in King Vajiravudh’s reign (1910 – 1925), their usage became less and less after that until there were only one word of each left: เฃตร and ฅอ.
When Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram, locally known as Chomphon Por; contemporarily known as Phibun in the West, served as the Prime Minister of Thailand (1948 – 1957), many consonant letters and vowels were eliminated from the writing system. Of course, ฃ and ฅ were included.
The others consonants have resumed their usage after Chomphon Por’s period of time but not these two consonants.
So, we are back to the second question. If they were not that important why did we have them?
From many of Thai specialists’ assumptions, they do believe that at the beginning, ฃ and ฅ must represent different sounds from ข and ค respectively but nobody really knows which sounds exactly.
Do you know all the Thai consonants which represent /k/ sound?