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Glossary of Thai Linguistics

acrophonicA system in which an alphabetic letter is represented by a word that starts with—or otherwise represents—that letter

allophone The phonetic realization of a phoneme, that is, a particular phonetic instance of some abstract meaning-carrying unit in a language. For many phonemes, variation is permitted, and the set of these variations, or allophones, taken together, define the phoneme. For example, in the Bangkok dialect of Thai, some speakers may substitute [l] for /r/ so that เรือ /rɯ̄ːa/ is pronounced [lɯ̄ːa]. Thus we could say that, for these speakers, [l-] is an allophone of /r-/.

alphabeticReferring to a language, a system where the set of phonemic sounds, or phonemes, are represented by graphemes (characters or letters) which, standing alone, carry no meaning; these are in turn built-up to form the meaning-carrying words. Examples of alphabetic languages include English and Thai. An example of a non-alphabetic language is Chinese; it is ideographic.

anaptyxix[see svarabhakti]

aspect In linguistics, aspect refers to the way that a language might express the manner in which events progress or unfold over time. This is in contrast to tense, which places events in time relative to one another. Roughly speaking, if tense describes when something happens, then aspect describes whether it has started, how long it took, whether it's still going on, and more.

aspirateA consonant sound which is accompanied by a burst of air, so it “can blow out a match.” In Thai, the low-class consonants { , , , , , , } and high-class consonants {, , , , }, roughly /kh/, /ch/, /th/, /ph/. In the Thai tone rules, all high-class consonants are either aspirates or fricatives.

attributiveAdjectives in Thai can grammatically function in two different ways. In the attributive role, they function like English adjectives, modifying a noun to form a noun phrase. They can also function predicatively.

category root Entries in the thai-language.com dictionary are tagged as belonging to one or more categories. In the thai-language.com system of categories, the term category root refers to a list of all the categories which do not belong to any other category. Categories contain dictionary entries, and can also contain other categories; this results in a directed acyclic graph of categories, which descends from the category root.

citation form
  1. When a single word is pronounced for demonstration purposes, a speaker may use different prosody (intonation, duration, stress) than if the word is pronunced in the midst of natural speech. These prosodic characteristics are called citation form.
  2. In a dictionary listing, the canonical form of the lexeme, known as the lemma or headword, is expressed in citation form.

classifierIn Thai, each common noun has one or more particular classifier words, one of which is used to indicate the number of items being discussed. A classifier word often describes the shape or other physical characteristics of the group of common nouns that it classifies.

clause junctureThe point of separation between adjacent prosodic features.

closed syllableA syllable that ends with a consonant sound. The complete syllable thus follows the pattern: Initial consonant + vowel + final consonant. The syllable is classified as live or dead based on the type of final consonant: live consonant ending or dead consonant ending.

clustered consonant tone rule In syllables with initial consonant clusters, the lexical tone is determined by the consonant class of the first consonant in the cluster. This applies when the second consonant in the cluster is a sonorant, which is the usually the case.

compound vowelA vowel symbol which is written with several distinct components.

consonant
อักษร 
As in all languages, Thai consonants are those phonemes (or the graphemes that represent them) which are characterized by constraint of the vocal apparatus.

consonant classThai consonants are divided into three classes, called low, mid, and high, for the purposes of applying the tone rules. The consonant class of the initial consonant in a syllable determines the lexical tone of that syllable in accordance with the tone rules.

consonant cluster
อักษรควบ
A grouping of two consonants that function together without a written vowel.

copulaA word that serves to semantically equate two parts of a sentence. Thai copula words include เป็น   /bpenM/ or คือ   /kheuuM/

dead consonant endingIn a closed syllable, one of the consonant endings /-k/, /-p/, or /-t/.

dead syllable
คำตาย
Either an open syllable with a short vowel, or a closed syllable with a dead consonant ending. In the latter case, the tone rules require further distinction between long dead syllable and short dead syllable.

determiner In linguistics, determiner refers to a class of words which modify noun phrases, adding information about definiteness, deixis, relevance, reference, quantification, selection, degree, etc. Although Thai doesn't have words which correspond to the English articles 'a', 'an', and 'the', Thai achieves these linguistic functions with a variety of other determiner constructions.

diphthongA monosyllabic vowel combination heard as a single phoneme. When pronouncing a diphthong, a person’s speech articulators transition smoothly from one monophthong to another.

eight word-ending protocols
มาตรา
In Thai phonology, a conception of the eight possible ending sounds for a syllable.

epenthetic anaptyxisThe process of the insertion of a short vowel, called a svarabhakti or anaptyxix, into a cluster in order to make it pronounceable.

enepenthetic initial consonant cluster A subclass of leading consonant clusters which invoke an (unwritten) /-/ (-a) sound between the two consonants because they are not phonologically compatible. That is, a type of consonant cluster where /a/ is pronounced between the two consonants. This inserted vowel is called an anaptyxix or svarabhakti. The process of insertion is called epenthesis, and because the insertion occurs within the cluster, the cluster itself is called enepenthetic. On this website, previously referred to as a non-conforming initial consonant cluster.

falling tone
เสียงโท
One of five lexical tones used in Thai (along with low, mid, high, and rising). With a low-class initial consonant, the falling tone occurs if It can also occur with mid- or high-class initial consonant if tone mark ไม้โท  is present. In falling tone, the voice begins above normal speaking pitch, and decends to normal pitch from there.

false consonant cluster
อักษรควบไม่แท้
A consonant cluster in which the first consonant is one of { , , , , }, the second consonant is , and the is silent.

final consonant
ตัวสะกด
The consonant grapheme which is associated with the ending phoneme of an orthographic syllable. Also, informally refers to the the sound thereof, the final consonant phoneme.

final consonant phonemeOne of the following six consonant syllable ending sounds: live endings /-n/, /-ng/, or /-m/; and dead endings /-k/, /-p/, or /-t/.

focus In the study of linguistic information structure, focus refers to the portion of a proposition that represents new information that the speaker asserts.

fricativeA consonant sound which is produced by a turbulent stream of air being forced through the narrow space between speech articulators. In Thai, this includes the low-class consonants { , , } and high-class consonants { , , , , }, roughly /f/, /s/, /h/. In the Thai tone rules, all high-class consonants are either aspirates or fricatives.

gaaran
การันต์ 
The silence mark in Thai, which appears, for example, above the last letter in the word การันต์ .

glossA brief summary of a word’s meaning, usually the best single word which represents a word in another language.

glottal stopA type of consonant phoneme in which the vocal cords are constricted to stop the flow of air, as in the English interjection, “uh-oh.” More common in Thai, it is nominally represented by the consonant .

grammatical aspectThe way in which an event represented by a verb unfolds over time--its aspect--is controlled by two factors: the inherent lexical aspect of the verb--that is, what the verb is “about,”--and also by grammatical aspect, in which a language provides a way for a speaker to (optionally) describe the specific circumstances, parts, or “aspects” of the event that he wishes to discuss. In Thai, there is a set of special words--grammatical aspect markers--which can be used to zero-in on a particular aspect of the event or state being described.

grammatical aspect markerThe Thai language has an elaborate system of linguistic aspect. While all verbs have their own lexical aspect--a protoypical semantic entailment, Thai speakers can select from over a dozen special aspect marking words to add further refinement to the description of the event or state.

grammatical tone In grammatical tone languages, contrasting tones may be used to mark grammatical phenomena, such as tense, aspect, number, gender, person, etc. Thai is a lexical tone language, not a grammatical tone language.

graphemeA single written symbol in a written language.

headwordIn a dictionary, a headword (or lemma) is the canonical citation form of a word that one looks up.

high-class
อักษรสูง
One of the classes of consonants in Thai (along with low- and mid-), used in the tone rules to determine the lexical tone of a syllable. Syllables that begin with a high-class consonant are pronounced with a rising tone in live syllables with no tone marker. In dead syllables without a tone marker, the low tone is indicated. The first and second tone markers indicate the low and falling tones, respectively; the third and fourth tone marks are never used. Phonetically, all high-class consonants are either aspirates or fricatives.

high tone One of five lexical tones used in Thai (along with low, mid, rising, and falling). With a low-class initial consonant, the high tone occurs if It can also occur with mid-class initial consonant if tone mark ไม้ตรี  is present. In high tone, the voice begins above normal speaking pitch, arcing slightly upwards from there.

implied vowel[see inherent vowel]

inflectional morphologyPatterns of lexeme alteration within a language, typically used to mark the word for grammatical phenomena (such as tense, aspect, number, gender, person, etc.). The Thai language does not generally alter lemmas in this way, so it is called an isolating language.

inflectionThe process of systematically modifying lemmata (word forms) in order to mark for linguistic phenomena. See inflectional morphology.

information structureIn linguistics, information structure refers to the manner in which discourse participants tacitly negotiate, manage and organize ongoing elaboration. Generally, propositions may contain a topic (an established entity or entities that the proposition is “about,” and which provide continuity with the preceding discourse) and focus (information which is presumed to be new and is asserted by the speaker).

initial consonantThe consonant grapheme which is associated with the starting phoneme of an orthographic syllable.

initial consonantThe consonant grapheme which is associated with the starting phoneme of an orthographic syllable.

initial consonant clusterA group of two consonants that act together as the initial consonant in a single orthographic syllable. Types of clusters that can act as an initial consonant include true consonant clusters, false consonant clusters, and leading consonant clusters (including clusters with leading or , as well as enepenthetic initial consonant cluster).

initial consonant phonemeOne of the twenty-one consonant sounds which can appear at the beginning of a Thai syllable: /g-/, /kh-/, /ng-/, /j-/, /ch-/, /s-/, /y-/, /d-/, /dt-/, /th-/, /n-/, /b-/, /bp-/, /ph-/, /f-/, /m-/, /r-/, /l-/, /w-/, /h-/, and /glottal stop/.

inherent vowelAn vowel which is invoked in a syllable with no written vowel grapheme (symbol). In Thai, inherent /-o-/ is invoked between a syllable’s initial consonant and final consonant when there is no written vowel. Sub-syllable inherent /-a/ is invoked within a enepenthetic initial consonant cluster. /-a/ or /-aaw/ are also invoked in some standalone syllables with a single consonant.

International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)A standardized system of written phonetic notation intended to be able to represent the sounds of all world languages.

intonationNon-tonal meta-variation in the pitch across the duration of an utterance. See the article on Prosodic Features in Thai Phonology in the reference section.

isolating languageA language, such as Thai, which does not use inflectional morphology to mark lemmas for grammatical phenomena (such as tense, aspect, number, gender, person, etc.).

lax vowelA phonologically arbitrary subdivision (along with tense vowel) of the English vowel sounds corresponding to the deprecated grade-school terminology “short vowel.”

leading consonant
อักษรนำ
The first of two consonants in a leading consonant cluster.

leading consonant cluster
อักษรควบที่ใช้อักษรนำ
A consonant cluster which is neither a true consonant cluster nor a false consonant cluster, i.e. all remaining cases of two consonants appearing with a single written vowel.

lemma (plural: lemmata) The canonical citation form of a word, also known as a dictionary headword. Since thai-language.com is a Thai-to-English dictionary, each Thai lemma appears with a definition written in English. Since Thai does not use much inflectional morphology, each Thai lemma is generally also a lexeme.

letterLayperson’s terminology for grapheme.

lexemeThe conceptual set of all inflected forms of a word. In Thai, since there is little inflectional morphology, this set generally has only one word in it, and that word is the lemma, or citation form.

lexical aspect The nature of the inherent event or state represented by a verb, that is, how it typically unfolds over time, which, in turn, depends on what the verb is “about.” Compare draw a picture to like ice cream; ignoring tense, which describes when these might have occurred, we can still see that the former naturally has a beginning, middle, and end, whereas the latter does not.

lexical morphA lexeme consisting only of a single constituent morph

lexical tone
เสียงสูงต่ำ
The use of tones in the Thai language is lexical, which means that spoken tone, as a contrast, changes the semantics, or the meaning of a word. In Thai, every syllable carries one of five contrasting pitch characteristics—low, mid (also called common), high, rising, or falling. The syllable must be pronounced with the correct tone if it is to be properly understood. There is no zero tone in Thai (every syllable uses one of these five tones). Tone is orthographically marked in Thai (it is possible to determine the tone of a syllable from its Thai orthography). [Compare to grammatical tone.]

live consonant endingA syllable which ends in a sonorant sound. In a closed syllable, one of the consonant endings /-n/, /-ng/, or /-m/.

live syllable
คำเป็น
An important step in determining the tone of a syllable is to determine if the syllable is live or dead. A live syllable is either

loanwordA word from a foreign language which is borrowed into the native language, for example, English words which are adopted into Thai, with their own approximate Thai spellings. Meanings can also become derivative in the native language as loanwords take on a life of their own.

long dead syllableA closed dead syllable which uses a long vowel sound.

long vowel
สระเสียงยาว
In Thai, every vowel is spoken with either long duration or short duration, a distinction which conveys meaning and collaterally affects the tone rules.

low-class
อักษรต่ำ
One of the classes of consonants in Thai (along with mid- and high-), used in the tone rules to determine the lexical tone of a syllable. Syllables that begin with a low-class consonant are pronounced with a middle tone in live syllables with no tone marker. In dead syllables without a tone marker, the falling tone is indicated for long vowels and the high tone is indicated if the vowel is short. The first and second tone markers indicate the falling and high tones, respectively; the third and fourth tone markers are never used.

low tone
เสียงเอก
One of five lexical tones used in Thai (along with mid, high, rising, and falling). The low tone occurs in dead syllables with mid- or high-class initial consonant or when tone mark ไม้เอก  appears with mid- or high-class initial consonant. In low tone, the voice begins below normal speaking pitch, dropping slightly down from there.

marking Languages have at their disposal various different tools for achieving their primary function of enabling communication. For example, prosody, gesture, vocalization, volume, and more. Generally, any signal that a human can readily produce may be co-opted for language function. As a whole, such means may be termed marking resources, since sundry languages give them different functional roles. In Thai, for example, lexical tone is given a semantic function, and the function of expressing aspect is achieved with special lexemes. Thus we can say that spoken tone marks for meaning, or that there are certain lemmata which serve as aspect markers.

mid-class
อักษรกลาง
One of the classes of consonants in Thai (along with low- and high-), used in the tone rules to determine the lexical tone of a syllable. Syllables that begin with a mid-class consonant are pronounced with a middle tone in live syllables with no tone marker. In dead syllables without a tone marker, the low tone is indicated. All four tone marks may appear, and they indicate the low, falling, high, or rising tones.

mid tone
เสียงสามัญ
One of five lexical tones used in Thai (along with low, high, rising, and falling). The mid tone occurs in live syllables with low- or mid-class initial consonant. In mid tone, the voice speaks at an even, normal pitch. The mid tone is sometimes referred to as common tone or even tone.

minimal pair[see minimal set]

minimal setA set of distinct words in a language which differ in only one or a limited number of phonological elements. If there are two words in the set, it is a minimal pair. A minimal set is used to demonstrate that the phonological element under consideration is phonemic—that is, that it has contrastive function in determining meaning.

monophthongA simple vowel phoneme which does not change in quality during its pronunciation.

monosyllabicpertaining to a single syllable.

morphThe phonetic representation of a morpheme—how the morpheme is uttered, spoken, or otherwise manifested.

morphemeIn linguistics, a minimal carrier of semantic content.

non-conforming initial consonant cluster[see enepenthetic initial consonant cluster]

numeric classifier[see classifier].

numeral classifier[see classifier].

open syllableA syllable that does not use a final consonant. The complete syllable thus follows the pattern: Initial consonant + vowel.

orthographyThe specific arrangement of graphemes (letters, consonants, vowels) in valid writing and spelling.

orthographic syllableA written syllable. In our preferred method of studying Thai, it will be important to distinguish between a written syllable—that is, a logical assemblage of initial consonant(s) + vowel + optional final consonant(s)—and the phonetic, spoken syllable sounds Westerners may be used to, because in Thai, certain initial consonant clusters can be pronounced with what may sound like multiple phonetic syllables.

particleIn Thai, a small word which is added to a sentence to affect its meaning or nuance.

phinthu
พินทุ 
The name of the Thai orthographic symbol, a dot, which is placed underneath a consonant which has no associated vowel sound. For example, phinthu may be placed under the first consonant in a consonant cluster.

phonemeThe simplest unit of sound that distinguishes meaning in a language. For some phonemes, phonetic variation may be permissible (regional accents or speech variation of an individual); each of these realizations of the phoneme is called an allophone. In this way, a phoneme can be considered to be the abstract or underlying representation of a set of allophones. Allophonic variation does not change the semantic content of the phoneme.

phonemicPertaining to phonemes, the simplest meaningful sounds of a language.

phonemic portionIn the phonemic transcription scheme used by this website, each syllable is presented in two parts: a phonemic portion and a tone indicator. “Phonemic portion” refers to the basic sounds of the consonants and vowels present.

phonemic ThaiA transcription scheme in which the phonemes, or significant sounds, of Thai are rendered in Thai script according to the most simple Thai syllables. This allows the pronunciation of Thai words to be written in an unambiguous way. Since the Thai spelling reflects pronunciation in a fairly regular way, often the phonemic Thai transcription will be similar to, or equivalent to, the correct Thai spelling of the word.

phonemic transcriptionA transcription scheme in which the phonemes, or significant sounds of a language are rendered in writing, typicially using a non-native script. Sounds which do not contribute to meaning in speech are not rendered. In this way, the native alphabet of a language, as well as any transcription system which is designed to convey significant speech distinction, can be considered phonemic.

phoneticAs opposed to phonemic, referring to all possible sound variation in speech, including that which may not be significant in a particular language.

phoneticsThe classification (articulatory phonetics) and characterization (acoustic phonetics) of the sounds that can be produced by human speech articulating organs. Compare to phonology, which is the study of the systematization of these sounds in a particular language or languages.

phonetic equivalent consonant Some of the (non-sonorant) low-class consonants have phonetic equivalents in high-class, which allows any of the five lexical tones to be delivered in any phonetic syllable. The {low high} pairs are { }, { }, { ( )}, { }, { }, { }, { }.

phonetic syllableA spoken vowel sound with optional initial and final consonant elements. We must be careful to distinguish between orthographic (written) syllables and phonetic (spoken) syllables in Thai, because many initial consonant clusters which should be thought of as part of a single orthographic syllable can generate an extraneous inherent vowel sound which generally qualifies as an additional phonetic syllable.

phonotacticsIn the phonology of a language, the constraints on the co-occurrence or adjacency of certain phonemes.

phonologyThe study of how spoken human languages use sound to encode meaning.

plain [see unaspirated stop]

predicateIn grammar and linguistics, the syntactic constituent in a simple sentence which contains the verb and describes the action of or about the subject.

predicativeAdjectives in Thai can grammatically function in two different ways. In the predicative role, they act as the predicate of a sentence, and characterize the state or characteristics of the subject of the sentence.

predisposed vowel [see preposed vowel]

preposed vowelA Thai vowel grapheme which is written before its consonant, viz. { - - - - - }.

prosodyOne tool at the disposal of languages for accomplishing linguistic function is to mark speech with rhythm, stress, or intonation (pitch-change). Taken together, they comprise the prosody of speech. Such marking can be obligatory or discretionary, and can signal sundry semantic, discourse, or information-structural function.

reduplicationIn some Thai words, a single written consonant may serve as the final consonant of a closed syllable and then be pronounced again as the initial consonant of the following syllable. For example, in the word วิทยาลัย , which is pronounced witH-thaH-yaaM-laiM, the final consonant of the first syllable, , is reduplicated as the initial consonant of the second syllable.

rhythmIn phonology, a prosodic feature representing the variation in time lapse between the onset of one syllable and the onset of the following syllable.

registerLanguage variation according to situation or social context.

rising tone
เสียงจัตวา
One of five lexical tones used in Thai (along with low, mid, high, and falling). The rising tone occurs in live syllables with high-class initial consonant or when tone mark ไม้จัตวา  appears with mid-class initial consonant. In rising tone, the pitch of the voice rises, about the interval of a perfect fourth in music, during the pronunciation of the syllable, from normal speaking pitch to a higher level.

RomanizationThe general practice of rendering the written words or speech of a foreign language into a Latin- or Latin-derived alphabet for the benefit of persons not familiar with the source language.

Royal Institute of ThailandThe official prescriptive governing public agency of the Thai language.

Royal Institute DictionaryThe important official reference dictionary (in Thai) of the Thai language. Official editions were released in 1950, 1982, and 1999.

semantic Pertaining to the semantics, or the meaning of a word, sentence, text, or utterance.

semantics The abstract meaning of a word, sentence, text, or utterance--the idea that a phrase denotes in the world--is its semantics. Assuming the function of language is to communicate meaning, it is semantics that syntax hopes to efficiently transmit. Curiously, the word “semantics” is both singular and plural.

short dead syllableA closed dead syllable which uses a short vowel sound.

short vowel
สระเสียงสั้น
In Thai, every vowel is spoken with either long duration or short duration, a distinction which conveys meaning and collaterally affects the tone rules.

sonorantConsonant sound which can “carry a tune:” ng, n, m, y r, l, w. This includes the Thai consonants { }. All sonorants are low-class consonants—memorize this important fact. Some linguists may use the term “resonant” to refer to such consonants.

soundLayperson’s terminology for phoneme.

spoken tone[see lexical tone]

straddling vowelA compound vowel with a preposed element in which the preposed element is written in front of both consonants of an initial consonant cluster. Example: เสมียน  /saL miianR/ in which the cluster /สม/ is straddled.

stressA form of prosody in spoken language, stress is produced by constricting certain parts of the speech apparatus in order to produce more emphatic speech.

subjectIn grammar and linguistics, the syntactic constituent of a simple sentence which contains the noun that the predicate acts upon or describes.

subscript vowelEither of the two Thai vowel graphemes which are placed below their corresponding consonant.

superscript vowelAny one of several Thai vowel graphemes which are placed above their corresponding consonant or consonants.

svarabhakti
สวรภักดิ์
A vowel segment inserted into a phonotactically impermissible cluster in order to make it pronounceable, a process called anaptyctic epenthesis. Same as anaptyxix.

syllableA single fundamental sound grouping from which speech is constructed. Exactly one vowel sound (monophthong or diphthong) must be present.

syllable-final consonant [see final consonant]

syllable-initial consonant [see initial consonant]

syntax Considering semantics to be the meaning that we wish to convey with language, syntax is the vehicle that arranges ideas structurally--according to the grammar rules of a language--into a linear form suitable for spoken or written communication.

tense In linguistics, tense refers to the way that a language establishes the placement of events in time relative to each other.

TIS-620Thai International Standard-620 is a standard way of representing all the letters (graphemes) and symbols of the Thai language within the upper positions of an 8-bit character set. In this way, both Thai and English can be represented using a single-byte per character. Although nowawdays becoming obsolete because of the prevalance of Unicode, which uses a 16-bit character width, this mapping or “encoding” is still sometimes favored for its compactness in transmission or storage. Because the upper character positions used by TIS-620 are also claimed by many other character encodings, some sort of out-of-band indicator (meta information) describing which encoding was used must generally accompany text which uses an 8-bit format such as this.

tense vowelA phonologically arbitrary subdivision (along with lax vowel) of the English vowel sounds corresponding to the deprecated grade-school terminology “long vowel.”

tonal languageA language where the pitch characteristic of each syllable provides a functional contrast. About one-half of the world’s languages are tonal. Tone in a language can be used either lexically or gramatically. Thai is a lexical tone language, which means that each word must be spoken with the proper tone for the word to be properly understood. Each syllable of a Thai word requires that it be spoken in exactly one of five lexical tones: low, middle (or common), high, rising, and falling.

tone
เสียง 
Thai is a lexical tone language, which means that every syllable has a pitch characteristic which must be spoken correctly for the meaning of the word to be properly understood. There are five lexical tones in Thai, to wit: low, middle (or common), high, rising, and falling. Compared to other languages, where tones may shift according to proximal phonetic environments (a process called tone sandhi), in Thai, the tones are fairly stable (Abramson 1979). Nevertheless, there are attested rules of this sort, such as the first of two reduplicated verbs receiving the high tone (Setthapun 1992). Dialect and ideolect account for further variation from canonical tone pronunciation.

tone indicator In the thai-language.com enhanced phonemic transcription scheme used by this website, the tone with which a Thai word must be spoken is indicated by a superscripted capital letter which appears after the phonemic portion of each transcribed syllable. The superscripts {L, M, H, F, or R} are used to indicate the lexical tones {Low, Mid, High, Falling, or Rising}, respectively.

tone mark
วรรณยุกต์
One of the four symbols written above a Thai syllable to modify its lexical tone.

tone rulesRules which determine the lexical tone for a syllable based on the initial consonant class, vowel duration, tone mark (if any), and final consonant type (if any).

topic In the study of linguistic information structure, topic refers to the entity or entities that a proposition is “about.”

transcriptionThe rendering of the phonetics or phonemics of a spoken language into a (typically) foreign writing system. In phonemic transcription, this is done in a manner such that only semantically significant phonemes are rendered. In phonetic transcription, attempt is made at a detailed rendering of all sonic details of speech, even those that may have little or no distinctive significance in the source language.

translation The rendering of the meaning of a sentence or phrase of one language into another language.

transliterationThe rendering of the written glyphs of a spoken language into a foreign writing system. This is usually achieved in a manner such that the original script can be reconstructed from the transliteration result.

true consonant cluster
อักษรควบแท้
A group of two consonants where the first consonant is one of { , , , , , , } and the second consonant is one of the three sonorants { , , } and both consonants contribute equally to the pronounced sound of the cluster.

underspecificationIn linguistics, underspecification refers to the general ability of languages to represent incomplete information. Since this is an inherent feature of language, it is considered important for linguistic formalisms to be able to capture the precise semantic content of an utterance, nothing more and nothing less.

Unicode A standard mapping of graphemes from many world languages into a 16-bit (wide) character set such that each language and all symbols have mutually-exclusive assignments. Each 16-bit Unicode code point represents a single grapheme or glyph.

unaspirated stop Any of the following consonant sounds, corresponding to { , , , , , , , , }, neither aspirated nor sonorant: /g/, /j/, /d/, /dt/, /b/, /bp/, and the glottal stop corresponding to . These are also called plains or plain consonants, and all are mid-class consonants.

vowel
สระ
As in all languages, Thai vowels are spoken sounds (or the graphemes that represent them) which are characterized by an open configuration of the vocal apparatus. Vowels are distinguished by their quality. There are nine basic vowel sounds in Thai: /i ɯ u e ɤ o ɛ ɔ a/. In Thai, each of these has duration as a contrasting feature, which gives a total of eighteen basic vowel phonemes in Thai.

vowel height One of the three main classifications of vowel quality in phonology, vowel height roughly corresponds to the inverse of the first formant of a vocal acoustic signal. The high (or “close” in IPA terminology) vowel phonemes of Thai are /i iː ɯ ɯː u uː/. The mid vowel phonemes of Thai are /e eː ɤ ɤː o oː ɛ ɛː ɔ ɔː/. The low (or “open” in IPA terminology) vowel phonemes of Thai are /a aː/.

vowel backness One of the three main classifications of vowel quality in phonology, vowel backness roughly corresponds to the inverse of the second formant of a vocal acoustic signal. The front vowel phonemes of Thai are /i iː e eː ɛ ɛː/. The central vowel phonemes of Thai are /ɯ ɯː u uː a aː/. The back vowel phonemes of Thai are /u uː o oː ɔ ɔː/.

vowel qualityThe set of distinct acoustic characteristics of an acoustic signal that allows one vowel to be distinguished from other vowels. Vowel quality is characterized according to three primary dimensions, height, backness, and roundness.

vowel roundness One of the three main classifications of vowel quality in phonology, vowel roundness is determined by the third (and higher) formants of a vocal acoustic signal. The round vowels in Thai are /u uː o oː ɔ ɔː/. The unround vowels in Thai are /i iː ɯ ɯː e eː ɤ ɤː ɛ ɛː a aː/.

vowel duration In Thai, each of the basic vowel monophthongs has a long- and short-duration variant. Since there are nine of these basic geminate pairs, there are eighteen vowel phonemes in Thai. This difference in relative spoken vowel duration is semantically distinguishing (essential in conveying intended meaning). Note that this refers to the actual length of time that the vowel sound is held, which is not equivalent to the meaning of “long” and “short” when applied to vowels in English; the correct linguistic terms for this latter phenomenon are tense and lax, respectively.

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