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Thai Punctuation Marks & Other Characters, Part1 Posted by on Nov 16, 2011 in Beginner, Intermediate

With any language you do not just have the consonants and vowels to memorize, but you also have the punctuation marks (krueng3mai5 wak4 dtawn1 เครื่องหมายวรรคตอน) as well. Thankfully, Thai borrows most of its punctuation marks from English. But even though most are the same, the Thai names of each still need to be memorized.

Before we continue, there is one word you’ll see often and that is kreung3maai5 เครื่องหมาย, which means ‘symbol’, ‘mark’, or ‘emblem’. Some punctuation marks have both a fancy name and an easy to remember slang name. In such a case, beginners do not need to memorize the fancy name. I’ve written both just for reference.


อ์              การันต์      gaa1ran1

The first character is called the ‘gaa1ran1’ การันต์ (‘ran’ is pronounced like the English ‘run’, but with a Spanish/Japanese roll on the ‘r’). Amusingly, the character is used in its own name. It’s that little circle with a tail อ์ always above some consonant. Its purpose? It makes the consonant underneath silent. You will only see it used when a word from another language, such as Sanskrit or English, is written in the Thai alphabet.

For example, let’s take the name John. When translated letter for letter, it looks like จอหน (J – AW – H – N). But when you pronounce that using Thai pronunciation rules, it sounds like ‘Jaw-hon’. To fix that you’d need to use the garan, giving you จอห์น. The ‘h’ then becomes silent. It will then be pronounced as จอน, which correctly sounds like ‘Jawn’.

There is only one word in the Thai language that has a garan but you still must pronounce the letter below it. It is สิริกิติ์, the name of the Queen. The reason is because without the garan an additional syllable would have to be pronounced – but shouldn’t be.


()             นขลิขิต      na4ka2li1kid2

optional:              (              วงเล็บเปิด  wong1lep4berd2,

                            )              วงเล็บปิด   wong1lep4bid2

The Thai word for ‘circle’ is wong1 วง. The Thai word for ‘nail’ (as in fingernail) is lep4 เล็บ. Because the parenthesis looks somewhat like the circular shape of a fingernail, it is called wong1lep4 วงเล็บ. As there are two of them, one is for ‘open’ berd2 เปิด parenthesis and the other is for ‘closed’ bid2 ปิด parenthesis.

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  1. asia:

    why thai posts are on french rss again 🙁

    • palmisano:

      @asia hmmm I’ll have the webmaster look into it . . .

  2. Frank G Anderson:

    As an aside, is there any correlation between lack of Thai punctuation and lack of Thai punctuality? Seriously.