Thai transcription system

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The General Königlich- Thai Umschriftsystem ( English Royal Thai General System of Transcription , RTGS , Thai การ ถอด อักษร ไทย เป็น อักษร โรมัน แบบ ถ่าย เสียง ของ ราชบัณฑิตยสถาน , Kan Thot Akson Thai Pen Akson Roman BAEP Thai Siang Khong Ratchabandittayasathan ) is the official standard system for transcription the Thai script into the Latin alphabet . On March 6, 1939, the general transcription system - in addition to a second exact transcription system, which used many diacritical marks and was therefore not very popular - by the Royal Institute of Thailandintroduced and revised twice since then. The last revision of 1999 was officially confirmed on September 14, 2000 by the Thai government as the national standard system of Romanization.

The Thai transcription system is used, for example, for street signs or publications by the Thai government, but the UN and the BGN / PCGN have also adopted it for geographical names. However, since this transcription system has considerable disadvantages (see below), even government agencies do not always adhere to it and there are also other romanization systems. Many language textbooks, dictionaries and travel guides have their own Romanization system. In addition, such systems are often based entirely on English , so that the transcription of the vowels is particularly irregular .


The salient features of the RTGS are:

  • The transcription is based on the pronunciation, not the Thai orthography. That is, characters that are not pronounced are ignored; Vowels and syllables that are not written in Thai but spoken (inherent) are also inserted.
  • The RTGS only uses unchanged letters of the Latin alphabet , no diacritical marks .
  • Consonants are used as in IPA , except:
    • Combinations with “h” as in “ph”, “th” or “kh” stand for aspirated p, t, k, represented in IPA as [pʰ, tʰ, kʰ] to distinguish them from the unaspirated “p”, “t Differentiate "and" k ",
    • it uses "ng" as in English, IPA [⁠ ŋ ⁠] ,
    • it uses "ch" for IPA [tɕ] and [tɕʰ] ,
    • it uses "y" for IPA [⁠ j ⁠] ,
    • Note: the transcription of the consonants at the end of a syllable corresponds to the pronunciation, not the actual spelling.
  • Vowels , diphthongs and triphthongs are expressed only by the letters a, e, i, o and u:
    • the simple letters "a", "e", "i", "o", "u" are simple vowels, they have the same values ​​as in the International Phonetic Alphabet IPA,
    • Combinations with "e" as the second vowel as in "ae", "oe", "ue" are digraphs for simple vowels instead of the special characters [ɛ, ɤ, ɯ] in IPA,
    • Combinations with a sequence “a”, - “i” or - “o” (also used several times) correspond to the diphthongs and triphthongs [-a, -j, -w] in IPA.
  • In certain cases, syllables are separated by a hyphen for better delimitation .
  • Unlike in Thai script, words are generally separated by a space between words in romanization .


The Royal Thai General Transcription System is inadequate for Thai language learners because of the following disadvantages:

  • no display of pitches and tone progressions,
  • it does not distinguish between short and long vowels ,
  • it does not differentiate between IPA [tɕ] and IPA [tɕʰ] (see following table),
  • it does not differentiate between IPA [o] and IPA [ɔ] (see following table).
Thai IPA description German RTGS
alveolopalatal affricates similar to "tj" in "Matjes" ch
ฉ, ช, ฌ tɕʰ breathed alveolopalatal affricates similar to "dch" in "girl"
โ - ะ, - O short rounded semi-closed rear vowel like "o" in "pedestal" O
โ - O long rounded semi-closed rear vowel like "oo" in "boat"
เ - าะ ɔ short rounded half-open back vowel like "o" in "Post"
- อ ɔː long rounded half-open rear vowel like "o" in "Horde"

Transcription Tables

The transcription of a consonant letter depends on its position in the syllable . In addition, in Thai script, two consonant letters can together represent a consonant combination, and the vowel signs are then written around these two as around a single letter. In the vowel table, a hyphen (“-”) indicates the position of a letter or a combination of letters relative to the vowel symbol.

Letters Transcription
Beginning of syllable End of syllable
k k
ข, ฃ, ค, ฅ, ฆ kh k
ng ng
จ, ฉ, ช, ฌ ch t
ซ, ศ, ษ, ส s t
y n
ฎ, ด, ฑ d t
ฏ, ต t t
ฐ, ฑ, ฒ, ถ, ท, ธ th t
ณ, น n n
b p
p p
ผ, พ, ภ ph p
ฝ, ฟ f p
m m
r n
ฤ, ฤๅ rue
ล, ฬ l n
ฦ, ฦๅ lue
ห, ฮ H
  1. a b c d e according to the respective pronunciation
  2. a b c d ฤ, ฤๅ, ฦ and ฦๅ belong to the vowels in Sanskrit , but are classified under the consonant letters in dictionaries due to the pronunciation in Thai
  3. serves as a carrier for vowel syllable sounds
  4. ^ Stroke of the glottis , but not written
diacritical marks , letters Transcription
Syllable core End of syllable
- ั -, - า -, - ร ร - -, - ะ, - า a
- ร ร on
- ำ at the
- ิ -, - ี - - ิ, - ี i
- ึ -, - ื - - ึ, - ื อ ue
- ุ -, - ู - - ุ, - ู u
เ - ็ -, เ - - เ - ะ, เ - e
แ - ็ -, แ - - แ - ะ, แ - ae
เ - ิ - เ - อะ, เ - อ oe
- -, โ - -, - อ - โ - ะ, โ -, เ - าะ, - อ O
- ร on
ใ -, ไ -, ไ - ย, - ั ย, - า ย ai
เ - า, - า ว ao
เ - ี ย - เ - ี ยะ, เ - ี ย ia
เ - ื อ - เ - ื อะ, เ - ื อ uea
- ว - - ั วะ, - ั ว among others
- ิ ว ok
- ุ ย ui
เ - ็ ว, เ - ว eo
แ - ็ ว, แ - ว aeo
เ - ย oei
โ - ย, - อย oi
เ - ี ย ว iao
เ - ื อย ueai
- ว ย uai
  1. according to the respective pronunciation

However, unpronounced consonants and vowels are not written.

More diacritical marks

The four   accent marks ่ ,   ,   ,   and the mute character   are not written, as is the virama   in texts in Pali or Sanskrit .

Other romanization systems



  • Thatsanee Charoenporn, Ananlada Chotimongkol, Virach Sornlertlamvanich: Automatic Romanization for Thai . In: Proceeding of the 2nd International Workshop on East-Asian Language Resources and Evaluation . Taipei 1999 ( [accessed February 7, 2019]).
  • Nitaya Kanchanawan: Romanization, Transliteration, and Transcription for the Globalization of the Thai Language . In: The Journal of the Royal Institute of Thailand . tape 31 , no. 3 , 2006, p. 832–841 (English, [PDF; 350 kB ; accessed on June 22, 2018]).
  • วิโรจน์ อรุณ มานะ กุล: อักขรวิธี ไทย และ การ ถอด อักษร ระหว่าง ภาษา ไทย และ ภาษา อังกฤษ . คณะ อักษรศาสตร์ จุฬาลงกรณ์ มหาวิทยาลัย, กรุงเทพฯ 2551 (Thai, [PDF; 5.7 MB ; accessed on February 8, 2019] Wirote Aroonmanakun: Thai orthography and transcribing between Thai and English. Humanities Faculty of Chulalongkorn University , Bangkok 2008).

References and comments

  1. See: Kanchanawan 2006, p. 835.
  2. a b See: Principles of Romanization for Thai Script by Transcription Method. 2002, p. 1.
  3. ^ Report on the Current Status of United Nations Romanization Systems for Geographical Names: Thai. (PDF; 125 kB) September 2013, accessed on June 22, 2018 (English).
  4. ^ Romanization of Thai. (PDF; 585 kB) BGN / PCGN Agreement. 2002, accessed on June 22, 2018 .
  5. a b c See: Kanchanawan 2006, p. 838.
  6. a b See: Charoenporn, Chotimongkol, Sornlertlamvanich 1999, p. 2.
  7. It indicates that preceding consonants or syllables are not spoken.