Chickens, Kids, Basins and Death – a trick to memorize the Mid Class Consonants

There’s a Thai nonsense rhyme that makes memorizing the mid class consonants easy! I learned it a long time ago, and a good Thai buddy of mine recently reminded me of it. It goes like this….
ไก่จิกเด็กตาย เด็กตายบนปากอ่าง
(gai jik dek dtai, dek dtai bon bpaak aang)

This roughly translates to… “The chicken pecks the kid to death, the kid dies on the rim of the basin.” or “The chicken pecked the kid to death, the kid to death, at the rim of basin.” Whichever way paints a clearer picture in your head.

How does this rhyme help us? Just look at the leading consonant of each word:
ก่ จิก เด็าย เด็าย าก อ่าง
Now, if we just replace the first ด and ต with ฎ and ฏ (consonants which have the sounds identical to ด and ต), we get…
ก่ จิก เฎ็าย เด็ก าย น าก อ่าง <– We’ve just used all of the mid-class consonants in the same verse.
Just remember that เฎ็ก and ฎาย spelled this way are not real words. But this is an easy and useful method for remembering the 9 Thai mid-class consonants. ก จ ฎ ฏ ด ต บ ป อ

While we’re talking about consonants… Here’s an easy way to spot and memorize the 11 high-class consonants as well. Maybe you have noticed already but the high-class consonants all are pronounced with a rising tone. Take a look! ข ฃ ฉ ฐ ถ ผ ฝ ศ ษ ส ห Each of these characters is pronounced with a rising tone while all of the other consonants are pronounced with a mid tone. (For example พ = paw, mid tone and ผ = paw, rising tone.) It’s a dead give away!
It’s like the creators of Thai language knew we’d need a tip-off as to which constants belong to what class so they hid an easy memorization trick in plain sight… or, in this case, sound.

Mid class consonants = all the consonants in the nonsense rhyme above (9)
High class consonants = all the consonants in the alphabet, which are pronounced with a rising tone (11)
Low class consonants =  everything else (24)

Hope this helps! Have fun!

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