Don’t Give Me A Vowel, Carol

Should the British TV gameshow “Countdown” ever make it to Thailand there’d be no need for the contestants to ask Vorderman for a vowel; there are plenty of Thai words which eschew even a single vowel. That’s because there’s an implied vowel where none is written. Usually this is an “oh” (/o/), but sometimes an “ah” (/a/) or even an “aw” (as in “paw” or “saw”) (/ɔː/).

Also, two consecutive r’s (รร) can be pronounced as “ah” (/a/) or “an” (/an/) according to context.

This leads to such peculiarities as the female name รรรรร (rrrrr), which is pronounced ran-rawn. (An “r” at the end of a syllable is pronounced “n” – most Thai consonants have different pronunciations according to their position in a syllable.)

According to Thai tradition, girls born on a Monday are given a name bereft of vowels. A previous Thai teacher of mine was called วรรณพร (wrrnphr), pronounced “wan-na-pawn”. I was therefore pretty sure, even without asking, that she was born on a Monday.

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1 comment so far

  1. Vivien Karam on

    Hi Mike
    Just back from a month in Australia…….hence my silence. Just ploughing through 290 emails….When I have surfaced, I will be in touch……….

    Viv
    xx


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