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Some great help with the terrible Thai Tones! (& vowels & consonants)
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  1. #1
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    happy Some great help with the terrible Thai Tones! (& vowels & consonants)

    FYI the site with the consonant & vowel flashcards now has some
    new stuff to help learn the sounds of Thai:

    http://slice-of-thai.com/language/

    There's:

    • a page on the 5 tones of Thai, with clickable sounds and spectrograms to visualize the tones, along with a "voice viewer" you can use to visualize your own voice and compare!
    • a page on the Thai consonant sounds
    • a page on the Thai vowel sounds, including infamous eueueueue
    • a page with free thai fonts
    • a page on romanizations


    also you can now choose the romanization scheme you want
    to use (Paiboon/Becker, IPA, etc.)

  2. #2
    Puttino Guest

    Re: Some great help with the terrible Thai Tones! (& vowels & consonants)

    Nice site with a lot of nice features.

    As, however, that what you are telling about RTGS (Royal Thai General System [of Romanziation]) is in such a sharp contrast to that what I'm teaching, the following remarks:

    What you write about RTGS is simply a misconception for that what RTGS is designed for. If you spent thoughts on the issue whether a ROMANIZATION system transcribes or transliterate somenthing into American or English letters, forget any other thought. RTGS does not provide the information about pronounciation. It is also not designed for a pronounciation aid.

    Please read what I'm saying (and consequently teachging) about RTGS here in the preamble.

    If you don't beliefe me that with the combined information written Thai/RTGS on a road map you have already a nearly perfect pronounciation guide ... I can teach to you how it works.
    Last edited by Puttino; 01-04-08 at 06:09 PM.

  3. #3
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    Re: Some great help with the terrible Thai Tones! (& vowels & consonants)

    Hello,

    Quote Originally Posted by Puttino View Post
    Nice site with a lot of nice features.

    As, however, that what you are telling about RTGS (Royal Thai General System [of Romanziation]) is in such a sharp contrast to that what I'm teaching, the following remarks:

    What you write about RTGS is simply a misconception for that what RTGS is designed for. If you spent thoughts on the issue whether a ROMANIZATION system transcribes or transliterate somenthing into American or English letters, forget any other thought. RTGS does not provide the information about pronounciation. It is also not designed for a pronounciation aid.

    Please read what I'm saying (and consequently teachging) about RTGS here in the preamble.

    If you don't beliefe me that with the combined information written Thai/RTGS on a road map you have already a nearly perfect pronounciation guide ... I can teach to you how it works.

    I looked at your Preface. I like the way you present some of the material: there's definitely some new approaches there!

    I definitely agree 100% that if you have both Thai script and RTGS, then you have enough information to figure out the correct pronunciation in almost every case. The RTGS fills in most of the gaps of missing information when the Thai script is ambiguous (e.g. sa vs. sara for ).

    However, I would argue that if you have both Thai script and one of the OTHER pronunciation guides (such as LP, Paiboon/Becker), then
    • 1. it's easier for the new learner to see the correct pronunciation, and
    • 2. for some common words, it becomes possible to figure out the correct pronunciation when it would not be possible with RTGS+Thai.


    Case (1) is really a matter of personal choice, so I won't discuss that further.

    But case (2) is more important since it affects whether the learner has the information or not. Here are some examples:

    Consider the Thai word . It looks long but it's really short. The RTGS system does not distinguish long/short, so with only +len, the learner has no way to know. With some (but not all) of the other systems, the user will see immediately that it's short. For example, Paiboon is lên, and not lêen.

    Now, it is sometimes possible to predict these cases from the Thai script using special rules. For example, when a tone mark appears with --, the syllable has a short sound. But some of the rules get very complicated: when mai ek appears in a live syllable with -- and a mid- or high-class initial, the syllable is short, but in other cases it is long!

    Even worse, sometimes there is simply no rule, and with only RTGS and Thai script, the learner cannot predict the pronunciation. Consider:

    ྪ - it is short and high even though it "should" be long and falling like
    Թ - it is short even though it "should" be long, like Թ

    there are many cases like this where RTGS will not tell the learner how to pronounce the word (and neither will the Thai script). Some of these cases happen because of tones, some because of long/short vowels, and some even happen because RTGS uses o for both − and − (− and −).

    I agree that in most cases, RTGS+Thai is enough. But I think that another system (either by itself, or with Thai) is a better way for a new learner of Thai to start learning Thai.

    Now, if we are talking about road signs, then there is no choice: we have RTGS+Written Thai, and we should learn all we can about how to read them.

    But, if we're talking about a book or website to learn Thai, we do have a choice, and I think most people would prefer a pronunciation guide system that gives more information than RTGS (but less information than IPA, which most people consider to be "too much").

    Of course, the Thai learner should get on to using just Thai script as soon as possible! All the pronunciation guide systems are a crutch!

    In some ways, RTGS may be "helpful" because it is so limited: if the learner is using RTGS, this forces them not to be lazy and to learn real Thai script at the same time as the pronunciation guide, whereas with other systems they might be able to delay learning real Thai script! Although this is a painful lesson for the Thai learner, it could be a valuable one! Perhaps that is really the focus of your idea?

  4. #4
    Puttino Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by lsemprini View Post
    Hello,

    I looked at your Preface. I like the way you present some of the material: there's definitely some new approaches there!

    I definitely agree 100% that if you have both Thai script and RTGS, then you have enough information to figure out the correct pronunciation in almost every case. The RTGS fills in most of the gaps of missing information when the Thai script is ambiguous (e.g. sa vs. sara for ).

    ...

    there are many cases like this where RTGS will not tell the learner how to pronounce the word (and neither will the Thai script).
    Thanks a lot for your review and the additional explanations. Btw, I just had already a deeper look on your site. You offer even IPA so that my critzism of my "Preface" does not fit at least on your site :-).

    A point I would like to make: It may be my personal situation or experience: I decided first to be able to read Thai before bothering my brain with tones, vocabulary, grammar etc. With my book (besides I have concrete students) I want to close a gap: Simply try to read Thai, use a dictionary and translate... you will not need any sound. [An issue is, of course, that you should learn vocabulary with tone/sound (see, however, small story below).] The chapter with tone rules I only introduced since my students were so eager to learn something about tone.

    For my limited means (read Thai) the combination TPA/RTGS is ideal. Therefore my somewhat harsh critique not to understimat RTGS. TPA = how actually to read, RTGS a Latin letter based help.

    Please accept that I do not want actually to teach anything about tone/sound of Thai - only to read. How I can seperate syllables? Why haen and nae can be written identical? Where comes the o from, and from where the a? What means ho hip with phinthu here. At the end I hope that my students have a sound basis to use a Thai-Thai dictionary ... and can then start with listening Thai, pronounce Thai, apply Thai grammar ... but these are all goals already far behind the horizont of my book. I want provide only the solid basis, the anchor for the rest of the work.

    The story I want to tell (I'm doing this, since I think that text-books sometimes overstress the "precise pronounciation" for the beginner):

    Last night one of my two students want to hear Thai. I said ok. The neutral consonants we already had. ko kai. What it means? Chicken. Fine. Let's look in an online dictionary. Chicken . You see the sign for the speaker? Yes. So click on it. Ohhhh, super, doooper. So, we still have not learned the high consonants but kho khai means egg. Lets look for egg. . Fine. Click on the speaker. ... sounds similar to chicken. Disagree, think there are two differnt k. Hmmm, don't hear this. Mai pen rai, but which tone? Hmmmm neutral?!

    After this we spent about half an hour to explain why kai and khai have each the low tone ... the rules.

    What I want to say with this story: I think even IPA is somewhat useless if you cannot compare it with a speaker, or a sound file. What I do when I try to train myself hearing the tone? I take a written word. Then I look how it is written in TPA, apply the tone rules, and then I click on a (or ask friendly a living) speaker. Why I say this: There are specific situations during learning where you actually need both a phonetic writing and a sound brought together. But I feel that phonetic writing (transcription) is too much pronounced in several textbooks - since while you are learning Thai you are not always searching for phonetic writing and sound. And if you have sound, phonetic writing loses its importance - then you want to bring together written Thai and sound.

    Please understand that with my comment I tried to defend RTGS - it is not transcription but Romanization. For speaking Thai, I agree, you should not rely on RTGS. But to learn to read Thai: A very valuable tool since it is transliteration of TPA - and if you don't have TPA, do-it-yourself during your holiday while looking on road signs.
    Last edited by Puttino; 02-04-08 at 03:13 PM.

  5. #5
    Puttino Guest

    Re: Some great help with the terrible Thai Tones! (& vowels & consonants)

    Quote Originally Posted by lsemprini View Post
    Hello,


    However, I would argue that if you have both Thai script and one of the OTHER pronunciation guides (such as LP, Paiboon/Becker), then
    • ...
    • 2. for some common words, it becomes possible to figure out the correct pronunciation when it would not be possible with RTGS+Thai.


    ...

    But case (2) is more important since it affects whether the learner has the information or not. Here are some examples:
    To cover also this:

    There are several lists of exceptions where (in particular terms with mai ek) length of vowel appears to differ from the rules at which length a vowel has to be pronounced such as this:

    ͧ




    ͹





    ˹


    ¡


    ͹





    ͧ
    ҹ
    ҧ
    ͹


    At the end you will have to learn the list and listen to some sound files/native speakers to listen the actual lenght.
    But for a beginner I think the most important is to learn first the tone rules and not so much the very few existing exceptions. Starting with the exceptions does not help to learn the rule.
    In TPA there should not be a guide to the lenght of vowel - perhaps a footnote pointing on the somewhat shorter pronounciation, and, perhaps a sound file.
    But again, for a beginner, in particular for a beginner in reading, I don't see an advantage of a phonetic writing in Latin letters. I would like to repeat that I consider the combination TPA/RTGS as optimal (for my means) as it forces the beginner to apply always the tone rules once he need the tone. As teacher I'm always in the postion to clarify mistakes in applying the tone rules.

    Btw the issues with those words is that there is a rule not allowing to set mai tai khu AND a tone mark at once, that's alreay the whole issue arround those terms.
    Last edited by Puttino; 02-04-08 at 02:53 PM.

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