Five Tones of Thai Language
In our previous blog post about Thai Language Cards, we mentioned that Thai is a tonal language. A short and simple word might have completely different meanings, depending on the speaker’s tone. As tones are an essential part of Thai language, but the space on Language Cards is a bit limited, we’ll dive a little deeper into Thai tones in here.
Let’s get started! There are 5 tones in Thai language – mid, low, high, rising and falling. In English, tones don’t have such a drastic impact on the meaning of words as in Thai. Thinking of such examples in English, only some interjections popped into my head. In these cases, it’s rather the emotion or reaction, that changes because of different tones. For example:
- Ooh – when you’re surprised / amazed
- Ooh – when see something painful or unpleasant
- Woohoo / Yay – when you’re actually excited
- Woohoo / Yay – when you’re being sarcastic
Based on intonation, you can also distinguish, whether someone is just stating a fact or asking a question / uptalking. For example:
- They moved to Thailand.
- They moved to THAILAND? 😮
5 Thai Tones
Thai Language Cards come with a card, that explains pronunciations and tones. In order to keep the cards compact, these explanations are quite brief and simplified. As one picture says more than a long boring text, we put together a more detailed illustrative graph of the five tones. And as the pronunciation of a native Thai says even more than a colorful graph, we added an example of each tone with its tone mark (that are also used on Language Cards) and pronunciation audio file. Crank up the volume and take a look at the graph.