Thai script

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Thai script
Font Abugida
languages Thai , Southern Thai
inventor King Ramkhamhaeng (?)
Emergence 1283 (?)
Usage time since the 13th century
Officially in Thailand
ancestry Brāhmī
 →  Pallava
  →  Khmer
   →  Thai script
relative Laotian script
particularities belongs to the
Indian group of writings
Unicode block U + 0E00-U + 0E7F
ISO 15924 Thai
The full name of Bangkok in Thai script.  The vowels are shown in black, the “low” consonants in blue, the “middle” in green and the “high” in red.

The Thai script ( Thai อักษร ไทย [ ʔàksɔ̌ːn tʰaj ]) is the writing system used to write down the Thai language . Like the Burmese script , the Khmer script and the Laotian script, it belongs to the Southeast Asian branch of Indian scripts . She is an Abugida and stands between the alphabet and syllabary .


Ramkhamhaeng stele in the Bangkok National Museum

Traditionally, their development is attributed to King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai . Even today it is spread in schools in Thailand that King Ramkhamhaeng "invented" this writing because in 1833 King Mongkut (at that time still a monk) discovered a stele on today's Noen Prasat near Wat Mahathat in the Sukhothai Historical Park Ramkhamhaeng's government declaration from 1292 is carved in stone (see the web links below). This is the oldest surviving text in the new script, which apparently was derived from the Khmer script, as the latter was hardly suitable for writing the tonal language of Thai. However, this representation has recently led to fierce controversy over the historical authenticity of the stele, which can be seen today in the National Museum Bangkok .

In today's northern Thailand , in addition to the Thai script, the so-called northern Thai script of the former Kingdom of Lan Na is rarely used, but like the Burmese script , it goes back to the Mon script .


The Thai script consists of 44 consonant letters (Thai: พยัญชนะ [ pʰáʔjant͡ɕʰáʔnáʔ ]), which are divided into three classes, and the diacritical vowel marks . The consonant letters are written horizontally from left to right, while the vowel symbols - depending on which vowel it is - can be written above, below, before or after consonants .

In contrast to the Latin alphabet, the Thai script does not distinguish between lowercase and uppercase letters . In general, individual words are written together without a space, whereas the end of a sentence is indicated by a space.


So far there is no universal standard for Romanization, i.e. the transfer of the Thai script into the Latin alphabet . For example, the name of the king ( ภูมิพล ), who died in 2016 , is spelled as differently as Bhumibol , Phumiphon, phuu M mi H phohn M , and there are also other spellings. Every language textbook or dictionary, every travel guide has its own system of romanization. In addition, there is the fact that the pronunciation in the Romanized form is often based on English, which makes it even more difficult for German-speaking readers. Therefore, most Thai teachers recommend learning the Thai script early.

The first attempts to establish the Romanization of Thai script were made by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) in 1912 in the course of the introduction of family names in Siam.

Today's Royal Thai General System of Transcription (RTGS; "General Royal Thai Transcription System ") of the Royal Institute , which had already published systems in 1939 and 1968, comes closest to a standard . This system is being used more and more frequently by government agencies, for example for the labeling of street signs.


  • The RTGS has no display of pitches and tone progressions.
  • The RTGS has no display of the length of the vowels.
  • It is impossible to infer the actual spelling in Thai from a Romanized word.
  • It is impossible to infer the correct pronunciation from a romanized word.


Table of consonants

The consonant letters are divided into three classes: the middle , high and low letters.

The middle letter class consists of all letters denoting unaspirated plosives (including the almost plosive / ʨ / sound and the glottic stroke ).

For the aspirated plosives and fricatives , which only occur voiceless in Thai, there are high letters, whereby the velar fricative / x / is pronounced as an aspirated plosive / k h / (this letter is therefore no longer in use). The high consonant letters can be recognized by the rising tone in the letter name.

Apart from the alveolar fricative / s / and the retroflex fricative / ʂ / there is a corresponding lower consonant letter for every high letter. Further deep letters exist for each aspirated plosive and the corresponding nasal as well as for the approximants .

The retroflexes and the palatal fricatives / ç⁠ / and / ç⁠ / are also pronounced like the corresponding alveolar in Thai. So there are z. B. six letters (two high and four low) for the aspirated alveolar plosive / t h /. This multitude of letters is necessary so that religious Indian texts that are written in Pali or Sanskrit can also be written with the Thai script.


For the representation of vowels (Thai: สระ [ sàʔràʔ ]) serve vowel signs (see also notes to the vowel table below) and certain consonant letters (the semi-vowels , and , sometimes ). There are, mainly for the formation of diphthongs and triphthongs , also certain combinations of several vowel signs as well as of vowel signs with these consonant letters.

The characters / character combinations , ฤๅ , and ฦๅ are, epigraphically speaking, the transliteration of ancient Indian , , , and . In Sanskrit these sounds are traditionally counted among the vowels, the associated characters are generally classified under the vowel characters in the Indian scripts. In the Thai / rɯ / ฤๅ / rɯː / / lɯ / and ฦๅ / lɯː / However, as a combination of a consonant / r /, or / l / and vocal [⁠ ɯ ⁠] / [ ɯː ] (closed , dark i, similar to an unrounded, dark 'ü', transcribed ue ), or is either pronounced / rí /, / rɯ́ / or / rɤː /. Therefore , ฤๅ are arranged alphabetically under the consonant letters after (/ r /) and , ฦๅ after (/ l /).

When reading the Thai script, a short [o] or [a] is also to be read between some letters, the latter often with loan words from the Pali or Sanskrit. In this case, the vowels are seen as "inherent to the consonant letter". In some cases the short a serves as a scion vowel .

More characters

In addition to the consonants and vowels there are:


The Thai number system is a decimal system that is written in Indo-Arabic numerals (Thai: ตัวเลข อา ร บิ ก [ tua lêːk aːrá.bìk ]) or (increasingly rare) a separate Thai number set (Thai: ตัวเลข ไทย [ tua lêːk tʰaj ]) can.

Tables with the Thai alphabet

Character for "M" in Thai script, as a sonorant assigned to the lower consonants


  • Explanation of the table:
  • 1st column: the letter in Thai script.
  • 2nd column: Romanization of the letter (see web links and Thai transcription system).
  • 3rd column: Name of the letter
  • 4th column: Name of the letter, official legend of the Royal Institute. The ch consonants in the names are to be pronounced in English. Example: ching is pronounced like tsching in German .
    "*" = These characters actually count as vowels, but are classified in dictionaries at the positions shown here. They are used to represent loan words and names from Sanskrit (not Pali) and other languages, for example อังกฤษ for "English".
  • 5th column: Pronunciation of the keyword in phonetic transcription .
  • 6th column: Translation of the keyword.
  • 7th column: Pronunciation if the letter comes at the end of a syllable. A "-" means: this letter does not appear at the end of the syllable.
  • 8th column: class of the letter (L: "low" class, M: "middle" class, H: "high" class). The classification, along with other criteria, is needed to determine the pitch of a syllable.
character Romanis. Name / keyword (original) Name / keyword (transcription) Phonetic spelling translation End of syllable class
k ก ไก่ ko kai [ kɔː kàj ] chicken -k M.
kh ข ไข่ kho khai [ kʰɔ̌ː kʰàj ] egg -k H
kh ฃ ขวด kho khuat [ kʰɔ̌ː kʰùat ] Bottle [obsolete] -k H
kh ค ควาย kho khwai [ kʰɔː kʰwaːj ] Water buffalo -k L.
kh ฅ คน kho khon [ kʰɔː kʰon ] Person [obsolete] -k L.
kh ฆ ระฆัง kho rakhang [ kʰɔː rákʰaŋ ] Bell jar -k L.
ng ง งู ngo ngu [ ŋɔː ŋuː ] Snake -ng L.
ch จ จาน cho chan [ ʨɔː ʨaːn ] Plate -t M.
ch ฉ ฉิ่ง cho ching [ ʨʰɔ̌ː ʨʰìŋ ] cymbal - H
ch ช ช้าง cho chang [ ʨʰɔː ʨʰáːŋ ] elephant -t L.
s ซ โซ่ so so [ sɔː sôː ] Chain -t L.
ch ฌ เฌอ cho (ka) choe [ ʨʰɔː (kà) ʨʰɤː ] bush -t L.
y ญ หญิง yo ying [ jɔː jǐŋ ] woman -n L.
d ฎ ชฎา do chada [ dɔː ʨʰádaː ] Crown, headdress -t M.
t ฏ ปฏัก to patak [ tɔː pàtàk ] spear -t M.
th ฐ ฐาน tho than [ tʰɔ̌ː tʰǎːn ] base -t H
th / d ฑ ม ณ โฑ tho montho [ tʰɔː montʰoː ] feminine proper name -t L.
th ฒ ผู้ เฒ่า tho phuthao [ tʰɔː pʰûː tʰâw ] old man -t L.
n ณ เณร no [ nɔː neːn ] novice -n L.
d ด เด็ก do dec [ dɔː dèk ] child -t M.
t ต เต่า to tao [ tɔː tàw ] turtle -t M.
th ถ ถุง tho thung [ tʰɔ̌ː tʰǔŋ ] bag -t H
th ท ทหาร tho thahan [ tʰɔː tʰáhǎːn ] soldier -t L.
th ธ ธง tho thong [ tʰɔː tʰoŋ ] flag -t L.
n น หนู no nu [ nɔː nǔː ] mouse -n L.
b บ ใบไม้ bo baimai [ bɔː bajmáj ] leaf -p M.
p ป ปลา po pla [ pɔː plaː ] fish -p M.
ph ผ ผึ้ง pho phueng [ pʰɔ̌ː pʰɯ̂ŋ ] bee - H
f ฝ ฝา fo fa [ fɔ̌ː fǎː ] cover - H
ph พ พาน pho phan [ pʰɔː pʰaːn ] tray -p L.
f ฟ ฟัน fo fan [ fɔː fan ] tooth -p L.
ph ภ สำเภา pho samphao [ pʰɔː sǎmpʰaw ] junk -p L.
m ม ม้า mo ma [ mɔː máː ] horse -m L.
y ย ยักษ์ yo yak [ jɔː ják ] giant -i L.
r ร เรือ ro ruea [ rɔː rɯːa ] boat -n L.
rue, ri, roe - * [ ], [ ri ], [ rɤː ] - - -
ฤๅ rue - * [ rɯː ] - - -
l ล ลิง lo ling [ lɔː liŋ ] monkey -n L.
lue - * [ ] - - -
ฦๅ lue - * [ lɯː ] - - -
w ว แหวน where were [ wɔː wɛ̌ːn ] ring -O L.
s ศ ศาลา so sala [ sɔ̌ː sǎːlaː ] pavilion -t H
s ษ ฤๅษี so ruesi [ sɔ̌ː rɯːsǐː ] hermit -t H
s ส เสือ so suea [ sɔ̌ː sɯ̌ːa ] tiger -t H
H ห หีบ ho hip [ hɔ̌ː hìːp ] box - H
l ฬ จุฬา lo chula [ lɔː ʨùlaː ] Dragons -n L.
(is ignored) อ อ่าง o specified [ ʔɔː ʔàːŋ ] pool -O M.
H ฮ นก ฮูก ho nokhuk [ hɔː nók hûːk ] owl - L.


The Thai script has 16 “simple vowels”: ะ ั า ำ ิ ี ึ ื ุ ู เ โ ใ ไ อ ว

These can be used individually or combined with one another.

  • Explanation of the table:
character Surname Romanis. According to
o specified O [⁠ ɔ ⁠]
- ะ sara a a [⁠ a ⁠]
- ั - mai han-akat a [⁠ a ⁠]
- ั ว mai han-akat wo waen among others [ among others ]
- ั วะ sara et al among others [ among others ]
- า sara a a [ ]
- ำ sara am at the [ on ]
- ิ sara i i [⁠ i ⁠]
- ี sara i i [ ]
- ึ sara ue ue [⁠ ɯ ⁠]
- ื sara ue ue [ ɯː ]
- ุ sara u u [⁠ u ⁠]
- ู sara u u [ ]
เ - sara e e [ ]
เ - ะ sara e e [⁠ e ⁠]
เ - า sara e… sara a ao [ aw ]
เ - าะ sara o O [ ɔʔ ]
เ - ี ย sara e… sara i yor yak ia [ ia ]
เ - ี ยะ sara ia ia [ iaʔ ]
แ - sara ae ae [ ɛː ]
แ - ะ sara ae ae [⁠ ɛ ⁠]
โ - sara o O [ ]
โ - ะ sara o O [⁠ o ⁠]
ใ - sara ai maimuan ai [ aj ]
ไ - sara ai maimalai ai [ aj ]


  • Explanation of the table:
  • 1st column: the number in Thai script
  • 2nd column: the number as a word in Thai
  • 3rd column: Pronunciation of the numeral in phonetic transcription
  • 4th column: Indo-Arabic numerals
character Thai Phonograph value
ศูนย์ [ sǔːn ] 0
หนึ่ง [ nɯ̀ŋ ] 1
สอง [ sɔ̌ːŋ ] 2
สาม [ sǎːm ] 3
สี่ [ sìː ] 4th
ห้า [ hâː ] 5
หก [ hòk ] 6th
เจ็ด [ ʨèt ] 7th
แปด [ pɛ̀ːt ] 8th
เก้า [ kâːw ] 9
๑๐ สิบ [ sìp ] 10
๑๐๐ ร้อย [ rɔ́ːj ] 100
๑,๐๐๐ พัน [ pʰan ] 1,000
๑๐,๐๐๐ หมื่น [ mɯ̀ːn ] 10,000
๑๐๐,๐๐๐ แสน [ sɛ̌ːn ] 100,000
๑,๐๐๐,๐๐๐ ล้าน [ láːn ] 1,000,000
  • Note: Except for documents and inscriptions with an official or religious character or with historical reference, Arabic numerals are used on a daily basis. It is also common that signs with price information for entry to attractions show a lower price for Thai citizens in Thai numerals, while the higher amount for foreigners is written in Arabic numerals.

Stress mark

character Thai Determination of the tone / comment
_ ่ ไม้เอก mai ek , about consonants of the "high class": results in a low tone
About consonants of the "middle class": results in a low tone
About consonants of the "low class": results in a falling tone
_ ้ ไม้โท mai tho , via consonants of the "high class": produces a falling tone
Via consonants of the "middle class": produces a falling tone
Via consonants of the "low class": produces a high tone
_ ๊ ไม้ตรี mai tri , via consonants of the "middle class": produces a high tone
_ ๋ ไม้จัตวา mai chattawa , via consonants of the "middle class": results in a rising tone
_ ็ ไม้ไต่คู้ mai taikhu , syllable is spoken briefly, tone remains unchanged
_ ์ ไม้ทัณฑฆาต mai thanthakhat , stands above a silent final consonant

If a syllable has no accent, the accent depends on the class of the opening consonant ("high class", "middle class", "low class"), the vowel length (short or long) and the final consonant ( sonorant or plosive ) from. If the syllable begins with two consonants, the first consonant is decisive.

  • Syllables with a long vowel or with a final sonorant (m, n, ng):
    • high class: rising tone ( สี , [ sǐː ] - color; สอง , [ sɔ̌ːŋ ] - two),
    • middle class: middle tone ( ดู , [ duː ] - look; ดิน , [ din ] - earth, sand),
    • low class: middle tone ( ทา , [ tʰaː ] - apply; ทำ , [ tʰam ] - do).
  • Syllables with a long vowel followed by a plosive (b, d, g, p, t, k):
    • low class: falling tone ( พูด [ pʰûːt ] - to speak; มาก , [ mâːk ] - very),
    • middle class: low tone ( ปาก , [ pàːk ] - mouth),
    • high class: low tone ( ถูก , [ tʰùːk ] - cheap, inexpensive).
  • Short vowel syllables:
    • low class: high tone ( เล็ก , [ lék ] - small),
    • middle class: low tone ( เด็ก , [ dèk ] - child),
    • high class: low tone ( สุข , [ sùk ] - healthy, happy).

Typographic characters

character Thai meaning
ไม้ยมก mai yamok , syllable or word must be repeated
ไปยาล น้อย paiyan noi , abbreviation,
is used, for example, in the name of Bangkok.
ฯลฯ ไปยาล ใหญ่ paiyan yai , corresponds to "etc."
ฟอง มัน fong man , marks the beginning of a paragraph
อัง คั่น คู่ angkhan khu , marks the end of a paragraph
(very rarely used)
โคมูตร khomut , marks the end of a chapter or a book
(very rarely used)

Thai writing in the computer

For the processing of Thai text is in Unicode the Unicode block Thai (U + 0E01 through U + 0E7F) used. In addition, the ASCII extension Thai Industrial Standard 620-2533 ( TIS-620 ) is mainly used in Thailand . An almost identical variant is the ISO 8859-11 character set .

Operating system-specific character sets for Thai script are available for Microsoft Windows ( code page 874 ) and Apple Macintosh .

In Windows , there is the standard tool osk.exe , one with a mouse-operated on-screen keyboard is (on-screen keyboard) and can be switched using the language on the taskbar. If you have activated "Thai" under the Windows control, you can use this variant via osk, provided the software used allows this.


  • Anuman Rajadhon, Phraya: The Nature and Development of the Thai Language , The Fine Arts Department, Bangkok 6th ed. 1989 (Thai culture; Vol. 10)
  • Danvivathana, Nantana: The Thai Writing System , Buske, Hamburg 1987, ISBN 978-3-87118-753-7
  • Fischer, Gero: Introduction to Thai writing , Buske, Hamburg 1993, ISBN 978-3-87548-054-2
  • Kummer, Manfred: Introduction to reading comprehension of the Thai language , Groos, Heidelberg 1994, ISBN 3-87276-705-4
  • McFarland, George Bradley: Thai-English Dictionary , Stanford 1972, ISBN 0-8047-0383-3
  • Rohrer, Josef: Dictionary German-Thai , VVB Laufersweiler Verlag, Gießen 2007, 8th edition, ISBN 3-89687-322-9
  • Stopperka, Ulf: Introduction to Thai writing , Buske, Hamburg 2017, ISBN 978-3-87548-815-9

Web links

Commons : Script of Thailand  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ PJ Bee, I. Brown, Patricia Herbert, Manas Chitkasem: Thailand. In: South-East Asia. Languages ​​and Literatures - a Select Guide. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu 1989, p. 28.
  2. ^ A b David Bradley: Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. In: Sociolinguistics Around the World. A handbook. Routledge, Abingdon (Oxon) / New York 2010, p. 100.
  3. a b Gero Fischer, Bua Srikasibhandha: Introduction to the Thai script. Helmut Buske Verlag, Hamburg 1980, p. 9.
  4. Timothy D. Hoare: Thailand. A Global Studies Handbook. ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara CA 2004, p. 211.
  5. King Rama VI: The Romanization of Siamese words. In: Journal of the Siam Society. 9 (1912), 4. Online (PDF, last accessed October 31, 2012; 1.1 MB).
  6. Nitaya Kanchanawan: Romanization, transliteration and the transcription Globalization for the Thai Language of. (PDF) In: The Journal of the Royal Institute of Thailand. Volume 31, No. 3, July-September 2006, pp. 832-841, at pp. 835-836.
  7. a b Romanization rules of the Royal Institute (PDF in Thai; 166 kB) (accessed April 20, 2009).