Ben Schuster / Thai Translated

Former Mui-Thai student shares his insight


Ben Schuster writes: This is a picture of a McDonald’s in Thailand. I’ve enlarged the Thai type, then explain the order in which it is read under that, accompanied by the phonetic English equivalent to each Thai character.

Thai is very unique, almost like a combination of Eastern and Western languages. Read left to right, but no spaces between words, just between sentences. Some characters express multiple sounds and some characters indicate voice levels.

There are 44 consonants and 32 vowels. Vowels are placed before, above,
below and after consonants. But wait, it gets better. There are 21 sounds for the beginning of words, 8 sounds for the ends of words, as well as 5 tones during the word! These sounds are pitches in voice level.

Think of it like this: we raise our voice at the end of a sentence to convey a question, we raise the level of our voice at the beginning of a word to convey surprise or enthusiasm. When speaking Thai, the voice fluctuates three or four times during a short sentence. This was very difficult for me to learn.

When I got animated, people didn’t understand me because my voice was going all over the place. Very frustrating, especially because the voice fluctuation effects the meaning of the word. Example: “Ma” means dog, come, a slang word kind of like “Right?” (and two other words that I’m not sure about).

The twenty-one beginning sounds and eight ending sounds are created by combining letters. For example N and A equals Ngor, G and A equals Gor, W and A equals War. The five tones are rising, falling, high, low, and monotone.

So reading McDonald’s in Thai with tones sounds like mc-don-ALD.

Any questions please feel free to post. I studied for a full year so I am pretty fluent,
bad speller though (Thai and English).

Geotypografika says DANKE SCHÖN Benjamin!

When can we learn more?

2 Responses to “Ben Schuster / Thai Translated”

I was thinking today about how Japanese people must see better because their written language demands it from them… so do Thai people hear better? The voice fluctuations have to be correct every time or what they are saying is completely changed… Maybe why there are so many musicians in Thailand!

FELLA612 added these words on Feb 26 08 at 7:50 PM

Actually it would be ‘Thai people sign better.’ I had it backwards, true it is important that they hear correctly but I think more important that they speak correctly, in order to be understood. – and that is probably why there are so many musicians in Thailand.

FELLA612 added these words on Feb 28 08 at 1:16 PM

Leave a Reply