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Reading Days and Dates in the Thai Written Language

Updated on July 22, 2016

Mountains in Northern Thailand

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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 hub, 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 hub, however, in not instruction in how to combine consonants and vowels to read words. It is merely an introduction on how to recognize Thai letters and their meanings in dates.

Reading Thai

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

Thai Letter of Alphabet
Romanized Pronunciation
English 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
An h after a consonant means the consonant is aspirated.

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 Bribaspati 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

Day of Week
Thai Abbreviation
Full Thai Spelling
English 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
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.

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 which 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, the full Thai writing, and Romanization of the Thai writing.

The Thai Months of the Year

Month of Year
Thai Abbreviation
Full Thai Spelling
English 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
1 after a syllable means a middle range tone. 2 is a low tone. 3 is a high tone. 4 is a rising tone.

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 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 Thai Days, Months, and Years into English


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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 equal 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

Reading Days and Dates in Thai

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© 2013 Paul Richard Kuehn

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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

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

    • Paul Kuehn profile image
      Author

      Paul Richard Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      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.

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