Last updated on August 16th, 2023 at 09:57 am
Oh boy, let me tell you a story! The other day, I was chatting with a Thai friend of mine, and she sent me a message in Thai. I was like, “Okay, let’s give this translation a shot.” But as soon as I started reading, I was completely flabbergasted! There was no Thai punctuation mark, no space between words, no nothing! It was just one long string of characters, and I had no idea where one word ended, and another began!
As it turns out, Thai is written in what’s called a ‘scriptio continua,’ which means there’s no punctuation or spacing between most words. Yep, that’s right! No question mark, no comma, or period. Not even exclamation marks or quotation marks. Instead, the reader is expected to use their knowledge of the language to decipher the gap between two words. But fear not, my fellow language enthusiasts! Just because Thai doesn’t use the rules of punctuation and spacing like we’re used to in the English language, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to learn. Read on to know how!
Nuances Of The Thai Language
It can be quite fascinating to explore the nuances of Thai grammar and pronunciation and how it differs from other languages. For example, did you know that Thai is a tonal language that has five different tones? They are low tone, mid tone, high tone, rising tone, and falling tone. It means that the meaning of a word can completely change depending on the tone used when it’s spoken. Moreover, Thai is written horizontally using the Thai alphabet, wherein there are 44 different consonants and 32 different vowels.
Thai Punctuation Facts
Now that we know that there is no punctuation mark or space between words in Thai writing, the question is – how do Thai speakers and readers know where one term or word ends and another begins? Well, it all comes down to context and knowledge of the language. Thai words are made up of individual consonants and vowels, and by using their understanding of the language, Thai people are able to determine the comma or pause in the sentence.
However, just because there’s no scope of space or no punctuation mark in Thai writing, it doesn’t mean that there’s no way to indicate pauses or emphasis. In fact, there are several ways to do this in Thai, such as using tone marks – which indicate the pitch of a syllable, and pause marks, which indicate a pause or break in speech.
Let us now look at some basic punctuations that are used in Thai writing to help convey meaning and indicate pauses or emphasis.
#1 Vowel Mark
One of the most important punctuation marks in Thai is the Sara (สระ) or vowel mark. This is one of the speech marks used to indicate the vowel sound of a syllable, and there are 32 different vowel marks in Thai. By using the correct vowel mark, readers can distinguish between a short vowel and a long vowel, as well as different words or sentences that have the same consonant sound.
#2 Thai Characters
The other important punctuation mark used in Thai is the Mai Ek (ไม้เอก) symbol and Mai Tho (ไม้โท) symbol. These Thai characters are used to indicate a rising and falling tone, respectively, and are essential in conveying the correct pronunciation of a word. Without them, a word could be misinterpreted or misunderstood.
Thai also uses hyphens to indicate compound words. In a Thai sentence, words can be combined to form compound words, and a hyphen is used to separate the individual words within the compound phrase. This is similar to how we use hyphens in English to create compound words like ‘well-being’ or ‘self-esteem.’
Thai Trivia Time!
Overall, punctuation in the Thai language is quite different from what we’re used to in English, but it serves the same purpose of conveying meaning and emphasizing certain aspects of language. By understanding the unique punctuation system in Thai sentences, learners can gain a deeper appreciation for the language and communicate more effectively with Thai people.
But before you move on, let’s go over some facts related to this Asian language.
- Thai words are usually written consecutively without spaces until the end of a sentence.
- Thai grammar uses spacing as a separator without commas, colons, semi-colons, dashes, or em-dashes.
- Thai sentences do not end with a period.
- There is no upper case nor a small case in Thai.
- Thai uses adverbs to express distinctions of time, as verbs do not exist in the form of present, past, or future tenses.
Learn Thai With Ling
So if you’re up for a challenge and want to expand your linguistic horizons, then I urge you to read on and learn more about the intricacies of Thai pronunciation. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be able to impress your Thai friends with your newfound language skills!
And you know what the good thing is? You can lay your hands on numerous Thai language-learning articles on the Ling platform.
The Ling app is an innovative platform that combines advanced tools and engaging linguistic techniques for easy learning through various features – a gamified interface, engaging lessons, interactive exercises, and challenging quizzes. The best part? Not only can you learn Thai from this app, but you can also master 60+ other foreign languages! I am sure you won’t be looking back once you get hooked on this app!