It has long been known that there are 44 consonant characters in Thai language. As we studied each consonant and vowel thoroughly, we found that the vowels “ฤ ฤๅ ฦ ฦๅ” which are borrowed from Sanskrit language should be categorized as consonants in Thai language. In the study, we do not place importance on the origin of the characters but on the pronunciation and characteristics.

The “ฤ” script is pronounced as รึ [rue], ริ [ri], and เรอ [rooe] depending on words. The “ฤๅ” script is pronounced as รือ [ruue]. While the “ฦ” script is pronounced as ลึ [lue] and the “ฦๅ” is pronounced as ลือ [luue]. It is obvious that each script is composed of a consonant and vowel. The consonant sound of “ฤ” and “ฤๅ” is ร [r] while ล [l] is the consonant sound of “ฦ” and “ฦๅ”.

At this point, some might wonder if it is possible to put them in a new category. The answer might not be yes because if we study more from good Thai dictionaries also the Royal Thai Dictionary, we will see that Thai dictionary is sorted by consonants first and then vowels and the four scripts (ฤ ฤๅ ฦ ฦๅ) are sorted in the consonant category. Consequently, it is clearly to see that the Thai dictionary considers the scripts as consonants. Please see the chart below.

ฤๅ ฦๅ

Moreover, when we take a close look at the four consonant characteristics, we have found that the “ฤ” and “ฤๅ” are similar to “ถ” while “ฦ” and “ฦๅ” are similar to “ภ”. This is another reason why these four scripts are better categorized as consonants.

Some might think that the “ๅ” of “ฤๅ” and “ฦๅ” can act as a vowel and its characteristic is also similar to “า”. Therefore “ฤ” and “ฤๅ” can be considered as one script (ฤ) as well as “ฦ” and “ฦๅ”. This is a good analysis and it works well on “ฦ” [lue] turning to be “ฦๅ” [luue]. However, it does not work well on the “ฤ” because the “ฤ” script has three vowels in itself. Turning the “ฤ” to “ฤๅ” by adding “ๅ”, the “ฤๅ” script will be able to pronounce as รื [luuue], รีว [liuue] and เรอว [roouue] while the [iuue] and [oouue] sounds do not exist in Thai language. In addition, all vocabularies starting with “ฤๅ” are pronounced as รื [luuue] only.

To sum up, it is better to restate that there are 48 consonant scripts in Thai language which will help organize the language system and also help foreigners learning Thai easier. For details of the consonant chart, please click here.

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