บ (b) า (aa) ท (t) spell a word you already know and can see every day (if you’re in Thailand): บาท (baht, or bath as the Thais often spell it). Look for it on a Thai banknote or coin.
า (aa: a long ah sound) is easy to remember. Think of an old man struggling with a walking stick and saying “aaaaah”.
บ (b) you can remember by thinking of it as a bathtub. As with all Thai characters, when writing it, you start by drawing the small circle. Then, without removing pen from paper, draw three sides of a square: down, across, up. Make sure the left and right sides are the same length. The bit you can see sticking out of the bottom left corner with some fonts is not important.
ท (t). Start with a small circle and then continue by drawing n. The sound of most Thai consonants depends on whether they’re at the start or end of a syllable. In Thai there is never a d or t sound at the end of a syllable. Instead it is a cross between the two: a ‘dt’ sound. Scary? No. This sound already exists in European languages. Try saying star and sdar. Sound the same, don’t they? The t in star is exactly the dt sound we need at the end of บาท. Put your hand close to your mouth and say Bart and Bard. You should feel a small puff of air at the end. Now say a cross between the two so that you can’t hear if it is really a t or d at the end: Bardt. If you’re doing it right, there is no puff of air. The final dt is almost inaudible but the word should still sound different from Bar.
- ทา (taa) = to spread, apply (e.g. butter, cream)
Note that ท is often transliterated as ‘th’ although there is no ‘th’ sound (as in ‘the’ or ‘thin’) in Thai. See L7 for more on this.
See L0 for an overview of this blog.
Next lesson: L2.