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Reading Days and Dates in the Thai Written Language

Paul has spent a lifetime traveling and learning many languages. He is now conversant in Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, and Thai.

Buddhist Saying in Thai

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Dates Using the Thai Written Language

Reading days and dates in the Thai written language can be almost impossible for anyone who doesn't understand the Thai language and culture. For example, how would you interpret the meaning of 。22 ก。พ。56?With a little analysis, most people would identify the as a day of the week, 22 as the date of a month, ก。พ。as a month, and 56 as a year. Without a basic knowledge of Thai writing and Buddhism, people could not state the day of the week, month, and year of the date written above. If the visitor to Thailand only stays in international tourist areas, it isn't necessary to know how to read dates written in Thai. Bear in mind, however, that many Thai organizations and people don't employ the western style of writing dates. Consequently, if you happen to be in a Thai school, hospital, or government office, dates will appear in Thai in an abbreviated format. In this article, I will first introduce the Thai alphabet and its pronunciation. Next, I will present the meaning of Thai abbreviations seen in dates.

The Thai Written Language

The Thai language has an alphabet and not characters like the Chinese language. Being derived from the old Khmer alphabet, the Thai alphabet according to tradition was created in 1283 by King Ramkhamhaeng. It has 44 basic consonants; however, only about 30 are regularly used in writing. Thai's 18 vowels and 6 diphthongs using diacritics appear in front of, above or below, or after consonants. Unlike English, Thai is pronounced exactly as it is written. The purpose of this article, however, is not instruction in how to combine consonants and vowels to read words. It is merely an introduction explaining how to recognize Thai letters and their meanings in dates.

The Thai Alphabet Consonants

The Thai alphabet consonants, their pronunciation, and the first sound of representative words where they commonly appear are illustrated in the following table.

Consonants of the Thai Alphabet

An h after a consonant means the consonant is aspirated.

Thai Letter of AlphabetRomanized PronunciationEnglish Meaning

ko kai

chicken

kho khai

egg

kho khuat

bottle

kho khwai

water buffalo

kho khon

person

kho ra khang

bell

ngo ngu

snake

cho chan

plate

cho ching

cymbals

cho chang

elephant

so so

chain

cho choe

tree

yo ying

woman

do cha da

headdress

do pa tak

goad

ฐ,

tho than

pedestal

tho mon tho

Mandodari

tho phu thao

elder

no nen

novice monk

do dek

child

dto tao

turtle

tho thung

sack

tho tha han

soldier

tho thong

flag

no nu

mouse

bo bai mai

leaf

bpo pla

fish

pho phueng

bee

fo fa

lid

pho phan

sailing boat

fo fan

teeth

pho sam pho

sailing boat

mo ma

horse

yo yak

giant

ro ruea

boat

lo ling

monkey

wo waen

ring

so sa la

pavilion

so rue si

wizard

so suea

tiger

ho hip

chest

lo chu la

kite

o ang

basin

ho nok huk

owl

Reading Thai

The Thai Days of the Week

Thai days of the week are derived from Sanskrit words for the sun, moon, and some of the planets. Sunday is from Aditya which means the sun; Monday from Chandra meaning the moon; Tuesday from Angaraka meaning Mars; Wednesday is from Budha meaning Mercury; Thursday from Brihaspati which is Jupiter; Friday from Shukra meaning Venus; and Saturday is from Shani meaning Saturn. The following is a listing of the days of the week with their Thai abbreviation, full Thai writing, and English Romanization.

The Thai Days of the Week

Thai is a tonal language. 1 after a syllable means a middle range tone. 2 is a low tone. 3 is a high tone. 4 is a rising tone.

Day of WeekThai AbbreviationFull Thai SpellingEnglish Romanization

Sunday

อๅ.

วันอๅทิตยื

wan1aa1thit3

Monday

จ.

วันจันทร์

wan1jan1

Tuesday

อ.

วันอังคๅร

wan1ang1khaan1

Wednesday

พ.

วันพุุธ

wan1phoot3

Thursday

พ.ฤ.

ว้นพฤห้สบศี

wan1pha3reu3hat2

Friday

ศ.

วันศุูกร์

wan1sook2

Saturday

ส.

วันเสๅร์

wan1sao4

The Thai Months of the Year

The Thai months of the year are derived from Sanskrit and named after the signs of the Zodiac. The Thai word for month เดือน duan often precedes the names of months. Months that have 31 days end in คม khom. Months with 30 days end in ยน yohn. February with 28 days ends in พันธ์ phan. The following table is a listing of the months of the year in English, with Thai abbreviations, full Thai writing, and Romanization of Thai writing.

The Thai Months of the Year

1 after a syllable means a middle range tone. 2 is a low tone. 3 is a high tone. 4 is a rising tone.

Month of YearThai AbbreviationFull Thai SpellingEnglish Romanization

January

ม.ค.

มกรๅคม

mohk3ga2raa1khohm1

February

ก.พ.

กุุุูุุุุุุุมภๅพันธ์

gum1paa1phan1

March

มี.ค.

มีนๅคม

mee1naa1khohm1

April

เม.ย.

เมษๅยน

maeh1saa4yohn1

May

พ.ค.

พฦษๅภๅคม

phreut3sa2phaa1khohm1

June

มิ.ย.

มิถุนๅยน

mi3thoo2naa1yohn1

July

ก.ค.

กรกฏๅคม

ga2ra3ga2daa1khohm1

August

ส.ค.

สิงหๅคม

sing4haa4khohm1

September

ก.ย.

กันยๅยน

gan1yaa1yohn1

October

ต.ค.

ตุลๅคม

dtoo2laa1khohm1

November

พ.ย.

พฦศจิกๅยน

preut3sa2ji2gaa1yohn1

December

ธ.ค.

ธันวๅคม

than1waa1khohm1

The Traditional Thai Buddhist Year

Although the Western Gregorian year is used in Thailand, the traditional Thai Buddhist year is used in many schools, hospitals, and other private and government organizations. To convert from the Gregorian year to the Buddhist year, you must add 543 years to the Western year. To go from the Buddhist year to the Western year, you must subtract 543 years. Hence, the western year 2013 is 2556 in the traditional Buddhist year. The Buddhist year of 2550 is 2007 A.D.

Converting Traditional Thai Dates to Western Dates

Now that we can recognize the Thai abbreviations for days of the week, months of the year, and understand the relationship between the Thai and Gregorian year, let's try our hand at converting a traditional Thai date to western dates.

26 ก.พ. 56 is equivalent to what western date? Be aware that when Buddhist years are written, the first two digits of the year are omitted because they are generally understood. For example, the year 2467 would be rendered as 67 just like 1966 is rendered as 66 when you know you are talking about the 1900s. Getting back to the date, ก.พ. is the abbreviation for February, and 56 is the Buddhist year of 2556 which is equal to 2013 A.D. by subtracting 543 from 2556.

Your stay in Thailand will be much more interesting and rewarding by knowing the Thai days of the week and months of the year. Furthermore, if you get into a really remote area where there are no western calendars, you will always know the date and day of the week.

Some information used in this hub was derived from the following websites:

www.omniglot.com/writing/thai.htm

www.thai-language.com

Converting Thai Days, Months, and Years into English

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. ศ. is the abbreviation for what day of the week?
    • Sunday
    • Saturday
    • Friday
    • Monday
  2. The Buddhist Year 2543 is equivalent to what Gregorian year?
    • 2000
    • 1999
    • 2001
    • 1980
  3. ก.พ. is the abbreviation for what month?
    • July
    • February
    • May
    • January
  4. What is the western date for 10 มี.ค. 55?
    • March 10, 1955
    • January 10, 2011
    • March 10, 2012
    • June 10, 2012
  5. What is the day and date for อๅ. 24 ก.พ.56?
    • Tuesday, February 24, 2012
    • Sunday, February 24, 2013
    • Tuesday, February 24, 2011
    • Sunday, February 24, 2010

Answer Key

  1. Friday
  2. 2000
  3. February
  4. March 10, 2012
  5. Sunday, February 24, 2013

Another Hub Related to Learning Thai

  • Challenges in Learning Thai
    There are numerous challenges in learning Thai. These challenges are in both listening and speaking and reading and writing. Pronunciation, tones, and alphabet make Thai different from English.

Reading Days and Dates in Thai

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Paul Richard Kuehn

Comments

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on August 03, 2013:

DDE,

Thanks for reading and commenting on this language hub. Although I studied Chinese Mandarin before, Thai is still one of the hardest languages I have learned. If I work at it, maybe one day I will know it as well as Chinese.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 03, 2013:

Informative, interesting and most helpful. You have accomplished an educational hub and you certainly know lots about the language thanks