To speak Thai clearly and make local people understood, it is not only getting the tones right it is also pronouncing the vowels correctly.
There are in total 32 vowel sounds in Thai language, 14 of them are long vowel sounds and 18 are short vowel sounds.
Similar to pronouncing Thai tones, when the vowel changes the meaning changes too. So you should make sure you are saying a word with a short or long vowel.
For example; ข้าว /kâao/ means ‘rice’ but when we change the pronunciation to a short sound เข้า /kâo/ means ‘to go in’.
“Vowel” in Thai is สระ /sà-rà/. Long vowel is called สระเสียงยาว /sà-rà sǐang yaao/ and short vowel is called สระเสียงสั้น /sà-rà sǐang sân/.
I always suggest my students to start learning the long vowels first and then move on to the short vowels because the short vowels are just pronounced with half of the length of the long ones. So when you learn to pronounce the long vowel sounds properly,working on the short vowel sounds is just a piece of cake! 🙂
Alright, let’s start with the long vowel sounds
Once you feel comfortable with pronouncing the long vowel sounds,now it is time to continue to the short ones. 🙂
Please note: There are seven more short vowels that teacher Pear didn’t include in the video. Three of them are rarely used เอียะ /ia/ เอือะ /uea/ อัวะ /ua/. Four of these vowels can be pronounced either short or long อำ/am/, ไอ/ai/, ใอ/ai/, เอา/ao/.
น้ำ /náam/ which means ‘water’ is pronounced with long sound. จำ /jam/ (remember) is pronounced with short sound.
ไป/bpai/ (to go) is pronounced with short sound. ได้ /dâai/ (can or receive) is pronounced with long sound.
เก้า /gâao/ which means ‘nine’ is pronounced with long sound, but เก้า in the word เก้าอี้ /gâo-îi/ which means ‘chair’ is pronouced with short sound.
Thai Vowels with a Final Consonants
The table below shows you both long vowels and short vowels that change the appearance when adding a final consonant (FC). They are in the orange color. Yes, you heard me right, some vowels change the form when there is a final consonant in the word so please be careful. 🙂