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BANGKOK 26 April 2019 11:17
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Not Pronouncing The Last Letter

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Is there a rule concerning not pronouncing the last consonant in some words?

I'm thinking of Tii Lak (darling) spoken as "Tii La" or Mak Mak spoken as "Mak Maa".

Also our good friend that's on the radio most Saturdays is referred to as Shinawat and not Shinawatra as it is spelt. Why drop the last silyble?

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This will probably only make you more confused, I just plod along and improvise, missing large chunks of info... but anyway:

Never speak out p, t, and k = /b, d, g/ at the end of syllables. They must be articulated as if spoken out at the right place, but never spoken out. Your tongue goes to the place where you would let out the sound, but stops there without letting out the puff of air.

NO consonant sound combinations are pronounced at the end of a syllable.

Words in English like 'fast' 'laughed' etc. are very difficult to pronounce for Thais because they are IMPOSSIBLE according to the phonetic system of Thai - this means that if a Thai who lacks all knowledge of English hypothetically encounters a word such as ฟาสต 'fast' in a text, the rules of his language tells him it must be pronounced as fâad (falling tone, final d not outspoken).

But to complicate things further, English loan words in Thai have their own tone rules, so I suspect 'fast' might be pronounced as 'fáad' instead. Richard knows these rules I believe.

An experiment: Have a Thai with minimum exposure to foreigners read out the following English words to you:

pipe

pine

pile

pie

pies

pry

ply-(wood)

What do they sound like to you? (Actually the last two examples are irrelevant to the point about final consonant sounds, they only show the difficulty with initial consonant combinations for Thais. )

Thais would be forced to add tones to the above words in order to make sense of which is which, because they cannot pronounce the phonematic differences which are the reason native speakers of English hear what word is actually being spoken. This is how you may understand that tones are phonemic - they carry meaning.

How does a Thai pronounce "last"? "guest house"? "ice coffee"?

Homework: phonetic terms to learn today:

phoneme

phone

allophone

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No thai words ends in an S or an L, which becomes obvious after a while..

The letter L (Law Ling) - sorry no thai keyboard, turns into a N when at the end of a spelling and S at the end is quite a challenge to teach the wife...

More an issue is the absence of double consonants though..

/// dfw

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Thanks but then why can they say the K in Mak Maa. It's at the end of the first Syllable. Does that go back simply to what you said about the way they are taught?

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I have no direct backup for this, but I think the issue of the first 'k' in mâak mâak is due to the fact that the two words link with eachother. In other words, the fact that the 'k' phoneme is followed by an 'm', makes sure that it makes itself heard.

Phonemes are affected by the environment in which they occur because of the restrictions in the human speech apparatus.

In this case, I think the normally silent final 'k' phoneme takes its allophone variant, which is more spoken out...

But if you listen closely, I also believe the 'k' is not as clearly outspoken as if you yourself would say muck muck.

I do feel I may be out on a limb here though. :o

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I have no direct backup for this, but I think the issue of the first 'k' in mâak mâak is due to the fact that the two words link with eachother. In other words, the fact that the 'k' phoneme is followed by an 'm', makes sure that it makes itself heard.

Phonemes are affected by the environment in which they occur because of the restrictions in the human speech apparatus.

In this case, I think the normally silent final 'k' phoneme takes its allophone variant, which is more spoken out...

But if you listen closely, I also believe the 'k' is not as clearly outspoken as if you yourself would say muck muck.

I do feel I may be out on a limb here though. :o

I can offer several thoughts here, but none are totally conclusive.

  • The unexploded final /k/ can be hard to hear. I can remember a Thai lady trying to say 'minced pork' to me - I heard 'min paw'.
  • When Tai dialects do lose final stops, /k/ after long vowels is the first one to be lost. The first step is usually to reduce final /k/ to a plain glottal stop
  • In reduplicated words, one part is often slurred. However, it is usually the first syllable that is slurred.

I think it's the first point, as Meadish suggests. Also, the ears of English speakers may be used to poorly enunciated stops in such clusters, but don't expect them after vowels. (Is it safe to suggest that Scots have English ears attached to their heads?)

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Is it safe to suggest that Scots have English ears attached to their heads?
:o:D:D:D

Quite safe especially with me but I have known some Scots who might be offended and vice versa.

Thanks for the laugh though.

I can offer several thoughts here, but none are totally conclusive.
I have no direct backup for this, but I think....

I'm just happy to have had some explanation and to know that I have not asked a stupid question or one with an obvious answer.

Thanks again guys

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Also our good friend that's on the radio most Saturdays is referred to as Shinawat and not Shinawatra as it is spelt. Why drop the last silyble?

The prime minister's surname is spelt ชินวัตร (ISO 11940 transliteration probably 'chin.ow.atr'), and is a compound of ชิน [M]chin 'lead, victor' and วัตร [H]wat 'routine'. The compound, which is not listed in my dictionaries, can be translated as 'progress'.

A compound composed from these Indic elements can be pronounced as [H]chi[H]na[H]wat or [M]chin[H]na[H]wat. (Meadish's chínáwát and chinnáwát are much better protected against line breaks!) Where does the 'sh' come from?

As the first element of a compound, วัตร is pronounced [H]wat[L]tra (= wáttrà), but for such a pronunciation to be used in a single word, it should be spelt วัตระ. There is a rule that a silent ro ruea (ร) after a dental is not marked as silent, and this even applies to European words, e.g. เมตร 'metre'. (What's the pronunciation of this word? I think it's [H]met but the RID gives [F]meet.) The rule may also apply after velars, cf. จักร [L]jak 'discus, machine'. (The original sense, 'wheel', surfaces in จักรยาน [L]jak[M/L]gra[M]yaan 'bicycle'.) This rule does not apply when there are other silent letters at the end, e.g. อินทร์ [M]in 'Indra'.

วัตร is an odd word. The Pali is watta and the Sanskrit is w.rtta.

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Where does the 'sh' come from?

Good question Richard. Probably from those English ears that are pinned to my Scottish head. Or maybe I'm thinking about 'Shin Corp' or 'Shin Satellite' or maybe I read the Bangkok post too much.

But thanks again. More and more info racking up and my printer is doing overtime for future reference.

Just how do you spell that blinkin' word - 2 r's or 2 f's. GOD I MISS MY DICTIONARIES!!!!

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