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Learning to Read and Write in Thai

  • Heather WinskelEmail author
  • Theeraporn Ratitamkul
Chapter
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Part of the Literacy Studies book series (LITS, volume 17)

Abstract

Thai has a distinctive alphabetic script that shares some common characteristics with Indic writing systems, due to common origins. It has syllabic characteristics as it has inherent vowels for some consonants. Furthermore, it has a non-linear configuration in that consonants are written in a linear order, but vowels can be written above, below, or to either side of the consonant as full letters or diacritics, and commonly combine across the syllable to produce a single vowel or diphthong. Notably, Thai is also a tonal language and does not normally have interword spaces. Hence, when one reads in Thai, words have to be segmented using cues other than spaces. There is a high level of consistency of mapping between phonemes and graphemes but there are multi-grapheme to phoneme correspondences. Consequently, spelling development lags behind reading in Thai. The particular challenges this distinctive orthography poses to beginning readers and writers of Thai is discussed. First, the characteristics of the Thai language and its orthography are outlined. Secondly, relevant background literature is reviewed prior to examining some research conducted on learning to read and write in Thai. Finally, some future research directions on reading and spelling in Thai are presented.

Keywords

Children Interword spaces Orthography Reading Spelling Thai Tonal language Writing 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology, School of Health and Human SciencesSouthern Cross UniversityCoffs HarbourAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Linguistics, Faculty of ArtsChulalongkorn UniversityBangkokThailand

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