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Exercise for practising vowel length and tone

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Exercise for practising vowel length and tone

Postby ThaiLanguageAcademy » Sun Apr 03, 2016 11:20 am

This is a link to an exercise that has helped my students tune in their ears to the importance of vowel length and tone in Thai. While the focus here is exclusively on the ability to listen and recognise the differences in vowel length and tone, this is an important step in learning pronunciation in Thai.

The exercise has a quiz to test your ability to distinguish between words with different vowel length and tone. Click the link below to read the instructions and do the exercise:

http://thai-language-academy.net/exercises/
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Re: Exercise for practising vowel length and tone

Postby pi_choen » Sun Apr 03, 2016 4:06 pm

I had a look a the Website.
Why is Number 2 Different to 7?
Both is normaly same Tone......rising เขา
http://www.youtube.com/user/pikoen1
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Re: Exercise for practising vowel length and tone

Postby ThaiLanguageAcademy » Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:44 pm

Correct, in writing the word เขา has a rising tone, but in spoken Thai it has a high tone /kháw/. So it makes sense to differentiate เขา from (ภู)เขา, right?
Last edited by ThaiLanguageAcademy on Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Exercise for practising vowel length and tone

Postby ThaiLanguageAcademy » Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:47 pm

เขา meaning "he" or "him" I should add.
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Re: Exercise for practising vowel length and tone

Postby Tgeezer » Mon Apr 04, 2016 3:25 am

it is nice to see เขา written correctly and hear it said clearly.
Just seen the other posts, I don't think that it is necessary to differentiate between he and knee. I think that just as I heard เขา when apparently it was เค้า you hear what you expect to hear.
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Re: Exercise for practising vowel length and tone

Postby ThaiLanguageAcademy » Mon Apr 04, 2016 5:28 am

Now "he" and "knee" are two different tones altogether, /kháw/ (high) and /khàw/ (low), respectively so these should definitely be separated.

Please note that this is an exercise to practise how to distinguish between the words in pronunciation and not spelling in Thai. "He" is written เขา, but always said with a high tone /kháw/ which makes it distinct from (ภู)เขา meaning "mountain" with a rising tone.
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Re: Exercise for practising vowel length and tone

Postby Tgeezer » Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:13 pm

ThaiLanguageAcademy wrote:Now "he" and "knee" are two different tones altogether, /kháw/ (high) and /khàw/ (low), respectively so these should definitely be separated.

Please note that this is an exercise to practise how to distinguish between the words in pronunciation and not spelling in Thai. "He" is written เขา, but always said with a high tone /kháw/ which makes it distinct from (ภู)เขา meaning "mountain" with a rising tone.

oh, I mistook เข่า for เขา, but leaving that aside, "always said with a rising tone" is a sweeping statement. There is no need to distinguish between he/them and mountain or deer horn. How you teach people is up to you of course, I only suggest that those who say เค้า when they mean เขา do not do so in order to avoid confusion.
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Re: Exercise for practising vowel length and tone

Postby ThaiLanguageAcademy » Tue Apr 05, 2016 12:23 am

You mean เขา as in "he/him" is always said with a high tone. And yes, I believe this to be correct. The only instance I can think of when เขา ("he, him") is pronounced with a rising tone is when someone is reading the word out aloud from a text.

If you separate เขา ("he, him") from (ภู)เขา ("mountain") you avoid the confusion altogether.
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Re: Exercise for practising vowel length and tone

Postby Tgeezer » Tue Apr 05, 2016 7:35 am

For the sake of discussion, and it is interesting, I think that Thai people have as much variation in speech as any other people.
When I listened to the recording I was reading the words, saw เขา and heard เขา !
I wonder how the recording was made and whether this and an influence on how the words were pronounced, for example unless you tell the speaker to distinguish between he, mountain and horn, why would he?
I wonder how it would be if you included ภูเขา นกเค้า ฝนตั้งเค้า เขากวาง
Have you asked a Thai to pronounce the word เค้า compared with the way they say 'he'? I haven't, but I suspect that they arn't the same.
I have never studied it and as a consequence my tones are not good but I know that tones can be made very complicated.
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Re: Exercise for practising vowel length and tone

Postby ThaiLanguageAcademy » Tue Apr 05, 2016 8:38 am

By variation in speech, you mean the choice of words used in speech or the difference between how words are written and said?

In the latter case, the difference between how the word เขา ("he") is spelt and actually said illustrates this point. The same goes for the question word ไหม which is written with a rising tone, but always pronounced as máy and sometimes written as มั้ย.

The word เค้า could be either /kháw/ or kháaw (as in ฝนตั้งเค้า), but I suspect most Thais will read it as the latter one. So we need to pay attention to the vowel length because these words, both high tones by the way, are clearly different in pronunciation.

I recorded the audio myself by the way. Having studied Thai, I suspect I pay more attention to the tones. In fact, I don't think Thai people think that much about what the tone of a particular word is unless you ask. In daily speech, words may pronounced with a wrong tone. But this is not to say that there is no difference in pronunciation between the words ภูเขา นกเค้า ฝนตั้งเค้า เขากวาง of which the first and the last would be rising and the second and third high with a long vowel, /kháaw/.

I agree, tones are not everything. I have met people who have learnt how to speak Thai fluently with perfect pronunciation without using neither transliteration nor Thai script. But I think it helps to break it down for most learners and it is definitely an important step in the process of learning pronunciation. In particular, I think it's important to be aware of the difference in vowel length to distinguish /kháw/ from /kháaw/ to pronounce both correct, hence the exercise.
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