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Incredible 18+ Thai Homonyms That Are Fun To Learn

When learning Thai, how often do you feel confident in a word you learned from a local, only to find out it meant something entirely different? If this has happened to you often enough that studying Thai seems like a hopeless struggle, take a deep breath; you may simply need to brush up on your knowledge of Thai homonyms.

Many languages have homonyms, and it’s up to the language learners to memorize them and use context clues to determine the correct word. Some examples of English homophones include the words to and two, or another one is sight and site. When learning Thai, it’s a good idea to practice Thai spelling words and Thai grammar to get a sense of how fantastical some Thai words can seem. There’re lots of words that sound the same yet have various spellings and meanings. If you take the time to study Thai homonyms now, you can end your problem tomorrow.

What Are Thai Homonyms?

Homonyms present a unique linguistic obstacle for Thai learners, in addition to the Thai vowel sounds. Similar to English, Thai has homophones and homographs. Homophones are lexical items that share the same pronunciation but are spelled and interpreted differently. However, homographs are words that seem alike in writing but are pronounced differently and have different meanings. Yet, homographs can also have the same or similar spelling but different pronunciations. Let’s take a case-by-case look at this before we make things more confusing for you.

Thai Homonyms

Thai Homophones

รถ/รด/รส (Rót)

Thai WordPronunciationEnglish Definition
รถrótVehicle
รดrótPour (water)
รสrótFlavor or taste

ผึ้ง/พึ่ง (Pʉ̂ng)

In Thai culture, people like playing this joke on others and find it amusing to throw off the person’s trying to determine the specific time at which they were stung by a bee. Because instead of เพิ่ง (pə̂əng), which means just now; Thais often pronounce it as พึ่ง (pʉ̂ng), which sounds similar to ผึ้ง (pʉ̂ng), means a bee. Example frustrated conversation would be as follows;

A: ฉันโดนผึ้งต่อย (chǎn doon pʉ̂ng dtɔ̀ɔi) – A bee stung me.

B: เป็นไงบ้าง โดนต่อยเมื่อไหร่ (bpen ngai bâang doon dtɔ̀ɔi mʉ̂a rài) – You all right? When did you get stung by a bee?

A: เพิ่งต่อย (pʉ̂ng dtɔ̀ɔi) – Just now.

B: รู้แล้วว่าผึ้งต่อย โดนต่อยเมื่อไหร่ (rúu lɛ́ɛo wâa pʉ̂ng dtɔ̀ɔi doon dtɔ̀ɔi mʉ̂a rài) – I know that you get stung by a bee, but I asked when did you get stung?

A: เพิ่งต่อย (pʉ̂ng dtɔ̀ɔi) – Just now.

B: ก็บอกว่ารู้แล้ว แต่ฉันอยากรู้ว่าโดนผึ้งต่อยเมื่อไหร่ (gɔ̂ɔ bɔ̀ɔk wâa rúu lɛ́ɛo dtɛ̀ɛ chǎn à yâak rúu wâa doon pʉ̂ng dtɔ̀ɔi mʉ̂a rài) – I said I know! But what I asked is when did you get stung by a bee?

A: ฉันบอกว่าเพิ่งต่อย (chǎn bɔ̀ɔk wâa pə̂əng dtɔ̀ɔi) – I said just now.

B: ช่างเถอะ (châng tə̀) – Forget it.

Even though you pronounce it correctly as เพิ่ง (pə̂əng), it still sounds identical to ผึ้ง (pʉ̂ng).

Thai WordPronunciationEnglish Definition
ผึ้งpʉ̂ngA bee
พึ่งpʉ̂ngJust now/Depends on
เพิ่งpə̂əngJust now

ทำ/ธรรม (Tam)

Thai WordPronunciationEnglish Definition
ทำtamMake or do
ธรรมtamDharma

ซ่อม/ส้อม (Sɔ̂ɔm)

Thai WordPronunciationEnglish Definition
ซ่อมsɔ̂ɔmRepair
ส้อมsɔ̂ɔmFork

ขั้ว/คั่ว (Kûa)

Thai WordPronunciationEnglish Definition
ขั้วkûaJoint
คั่วkûaRoast

ขั้น/คั่น (Kân)

Thai WordPronunciationEnglish Definition
ขั้นkânStep
คั่นkânSeperate

คัน/ครรภ์ (Kan)

Thai WordPronunciationEnglish Definition
คันkanItch
ครรภ์kanPregnancy

ขี้/คี่ (Kîi)

Thai WordPronunciationEnglish Definition
ขี้kîiStool
คี่kîiOdd

จันทร์/จันทน์ (Jan)

Thai WordPronunciationEnglish Definition
จันทร์janMoon
จันทน์janSandalwood tree

โจทย์/โจทก์ (Jòot)

Thai WordPronunciationEnglish Definition
โจทย์jòotQuestion
โจทก์jòotComplainant

หญ้า/ย่า (Yâa)

Thai WordPronunciationEnglish Definition
หญ้าyâaGrass
ย่าyâaGrandmother
Thai Homonyms

Thai Homographs

Let’s discuss some Thai homographs then, words that look identical in writing but have different meanings. On the other hand, as we discussed at the beginning of this article, there are two major types.

  • Same words with the same pronunciations but different meanings.
  • Same words with different pronunciations and meanings.

So, let’s see a few examples to understand this better.

Same Spelling And Pronunciation, But Different Meaning

Thai WordPronunciation1st
English Definition
2nd
English Definition
ผมpǒm“I” as a personal pronounHair
ตาdtaaEyeGrandfather
เย็นyenCoolEvening
ขันkǎnBowl or water dipperCrow (e.g. a chicken crows in the morning)
แกะgɛ̀SheepUnwrap

Same Spelling, But Different Pronunciation And Definitions

Thai Word1st
Pronunciation
English Definition2nd PronunciationEnglish Definition
สระPoolsà ràVowel
เพลาpaoAxle (for a car)pee laaTime (Ancient Thai language)
ปักเป้าbpàk bpâoBalloon plantbpàk gà bpâoGlobefish

Summary

After reading all these sample Thai homonyms, you should be more confident and energized. Because the more you are familiar with this vocabulary, the more you can successfully catch up with what locals say and interpret the situation correctly. The most helpful tip for comprehending Thai homonyms is to read or listen to the whole sentence. When you don’t know what individuals are trying to express, you should evaluate their entire sentences or don’t be afraid to ask them to clarify that single word for you. So you’ll grasp the language better and allow you to keep learning new words daily. So we hope that Thai homonyms will not overwhelm you; in contrast, they make you want to challenge yourself to study more Thai homonyms.

Learn Thai With The Ling App

Learn Thai with The Ling App

Learning the language is your best bet for having an enjoyable and enriching experience during your time in Thailand. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you use your thumbs-up gesture to download the Ling App to your mobile device. If you do this, you can be confident that you will never be without the world’s best language-learning application. We also make it easy to access our massive resources, such as lists of Thai words organized by topic and audio recordings of Thai conversations performed by local speakers to help you learn the natural pronunciations.

Because we understand that learning a new language should be fun, we’ve included mini-games and quizzes that are both enjoyable and useful for memorizing key Thai words and phrases.

Are you ready to start now? So download the Ling App from the Google PlayStore and Apple AppStore now, and prepare to be fluent in Thai very soon!

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