Monday, February 28, 2011

American English Vowels that Thai speakers Cannot Produce


As an American English speaker (Los Angeles, California), I will mainly focus on General American English vowels. Thai speakers who are learning English should read this blog post to better understand English vowels.  In particular, you should try to master the vowel sounds that I have put on the list below. This might help with your English pronunciation.

There are about 12 American English vowel sounds that many Thai speakers have a difficult time producing.

Monophthongs:
  1. [ɪ] as in bid. Many Thais substitute this sound with [i] as in beat.
  2. [ɛ] as bed. Many Thais substitute this sound with [e] which does not exist in most mainstream American English varieties. (Note: [e] is NOT [ej] as in bake.)
  3. [ɑ] as in father. Many Thais substitute this sound with [a] (อา) which is fronter, and it is not in mainstream American English.
  4. [ʊ] as good. Many Thais substitute this sound with [u] as in boot.
  5. [ʌ] as in bud. Many Thais substitute this sound with [a] like they do with [ɑ] (mentioned above).
  6. [ɚ] as in bird. Many Thais substitute this sound with [ɤ] (เออ) which is a little bit backer; "unrounded o."
  7. [ə] as in sofa. Many Thais substitute this sound with [ɤ] like they do with [ɚ] (mentioned above).
  8. [ɑ] in pot, not, got. Many Thais substitute this sound with [ɔ] (ออ).
Diphthongs:
  1.  [ej] as in way. Many Thais substitute this sound with [e] like they do with [ɛ] (mentioned above).
  2.  [ow] as in show. Many Thais substitute this sound with [o] which does not exist in mainstream American English.
  3.  [ʊɚ] as in moor. Many Thais substitute this sound with [ua] or [uə] which is quite close to American English but not rhoticized.
  4. [ɛɚ] as in hair. Many Thais substitute this sound with [ɛ] (the r is dropped).

Some Thai speakers might find some of these sounds easier to master than others. I hope this article is helpful.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Comparing tones among some Southwestern Tai languages

The numbers will be used to represent level of pitch. Chao's digits.
5 - highest
4 - high
3 - mid
2 - low
1 - lowest

51 - falling tone. Start out highest(5) then falls to lowest(1).
15 - rising tone. Start out lowest(1) then falls to highest(5).

Standard Thai
ขา [kʰaː24] 'leg'
ข่า [kʰaː21] 'galangal'
ข้า [kʰaː51] 'slave'
คา [kʰaː33] 'stuck'
ค่า [kʰaː51] 'value'
ค้า [kʰaː45] 'to trade'

 Vientiane Lao
[kʰaː14] 'leg'
[kʰaː33] 'galangal'
[kʰaː31] 'slave'
[kʰaː34] 'stuck'
[kʰaː33] 'value'
[kʰaː51] 'to trade'

Northern Thai -Chiang Mai (Gedney)
[kʰaː24] 'leg'
[kʰaː11] 'galangal'
[kʰaː53] 'slave'
[kaː44] 'stuck'
[kaː51] 'value'
[kaː454] 'to trade'

Shan

[kʰaː24] 'leg'
[kʰaː11] 'galangal'
[kʰaː32] 'slave'
[kaː55] 'stuck'
[kaː32] 'value'
[kaː51] 'to trade' (relatively shorter than other tones)

Tai Lue - Sipsongpanna (Gedney)
[kʰaː55] 'leg'
[kʰaː12] 'galangal'
[kʰaː11] 'slave'
[kaː21] 'stuck'
[kaː33] 'value'
[kaː31] 'to trade'

Tai Dam(Gedney)
[kʰaː22] 'leg'
[kʰaː45] 'galangal'
[kʰaː21] 'slave'
[kaː55] 'stuck'
[kaː44] 'value'
[kaː31] 'to trade'







 
Source
Gedney, William J., and Thomas J. Hudak. William J. Gedney's Tai Dialect Studies: Glossaries, Texts, and Translations. Ann Arbor, MI: Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, The University of Michigan, 1997. Print.