Rosetta Stone Language Software

Introduction to Thai

Before you begin, there are a few things you should know.

1. Thai is actually written in a beautiful, intriguing and to Western eyes seemingly indecipherable syllabary. What you see here is a hodgepodge of the transliteration systems used in several guides.

2. Thai is a tonal language. The tones are as follows:

Low tone – à
High tone – á
Lilt up – â
Lilt down – ă

Absence of an accent means the tone is flat. Getting this right for a beginner is rough and you have to hear it for it to make sense. It’s good to come up with your own convention for keeping things straight in your own mind so you can adapt the system once you’ve actually heard Thai spoken.

Rosetta Stone Thai Level I

3. Thai has two consonants we lack in English. We’ve followed the easiest typographical convention for these two sounds:

bp is halfway between a “b” and a “p”
dt is halfway between a “d” and a “t”

Think of these two phrases: “Rob Peter to pay Paul.” “He spun the red top.” Say them fast and then try to approximate the sounds in bold. Again, you may have to hear it.

4. Thai grammar is so simple that it’s bizarrely complex. Some things will go together in a way that makes you say, “Hey, that was easy!” Others will have you going, “What was that all about?” Try to stick to the constructions in the stock phrases I’ve given. In lessons two and four in particular I’ve tried to show how things go together to help you along.

5. Thai is a language with multiple levels of politeness and nuance that cannot be taught here. What can be taught is the importance of kráp and . The first is used for talking to males, the second for females. Tack them liberally onto phrases like please, thank you, how are you, please write it and anything else that feels like a request or a chance to make a good impression.

6. Thai is a language of which I know a very few structures and phrases. The information here is patched together from various sources and should open some doors. Some of the phrases are not quite right but have been reworked to be easier to learn vis-à-vis the other material. In short, this is not a comprehensive guide, just a little primer to get you started. Constructive criticism for making the learning easier and helping avoid misunderstandings would be appreciated. kŏr, e-mail if you've got something to add.