Thai Alphabet


The Thai alphabet is used in Thailand to write the local language. Similar to Indian writing systems, this is an abugida, a consonant-vowel script where a consonant without a vowel still represents a syllable. Vowels are indicated with special diacritical marks to the left, right, below, or above consonants. Letters are written from left to right horizontally, and words are written without spaces. It is also used as a comma (semicolon) to separate names from surnames and to highlight numbers.

The Thai alphabet was standardized in 1283 under the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great. It was modeled after the  Old Khmer script 1780–17DD , which was derived from the  Brahmi script 11000–1104D . Due to the low literacy rate among the population, the alphabet was primarily used by religious scholars. With the introduction of printing in 1839, it became more widespread. While the shapes of the letters have changed slightly over the centuries, the writing system has remained essentially the same.

Each letter in the Thai alphabet has its own name, which consists of the sound that the symbol represents and a word that starts with (or contains) that letter. For example, the letter is called “cho chan.” In writing, it represents the syllable “cho” and it is the first letter in the word ช้าง, which means “elephant”.

There are rumors that the first typewriter for the Thai script, created in 1892, didn't have enough keys to accommodate all the characters, so two letters were excluded from the alphabet.