There are both substantive and subtle changes to the Thai Alphabet Cards. For the Thai Consonants, we add the ten numbers (0-9) as ten additional cards, and then on the consonant cards themselves, the significant changes are:
Multiple English Transliteration / Transcription (Haas/AUA, IPA, Paiboon)
One challenge for using Thai script on a computer is that Thai characters are more vertical than roman alphabet characters. If one is mixing roman and Thai characters in a document, the Thai characters tend to be much smaller (and therefore illegible if the roman characters are optimized for space and legibility). The reason for this is that Thai characters, along with vowel markers, tone marks, and the silent marker can stack above and below a character, which means they are generally much taller than Roman (Latin) and other alphabet systems.
A good (bad) example is the very legible source code editing font Hack which does not have Thai character support. This means the operating system substitutes the Thai system font, which makes reading difficult. The best that can be done is increasing the font size and decreasing the line height and the line length. This can make the latin characters less legible.
Fonts with Good Thai and Roman Character Support
When this post was first created in Nov. 2013 there were three fonts that I focused on. Those fonts listed were:
Note that all the fonts listed above with the exceptions of Linux Libertine, Arundina Sans, and Waree are available in the Free Thai font collection. We will be adding Arundina and Waree to the Thai Font Collection in the next month or two.
INCOMPLETE - WORK IN PROGRESS
It is common for those learning Thai to run across transcription of spoken Thai into systems other than the Thai script. At first, one would think that there would be a single correct transcription, for example based on the International Phonetical Association (IPA) that would accurately capture all the sounds in Thai. One would be wrong. There are a large number of transcription/transliteration systems, each with their own history and rationale. Understanding more about them is useful to Intermediate Thai language learners. Normally a beginning learner is simply at the mercy of whatever Thai language books/material and/or Thai teacher/tutor is most convenient or chosen for the learner. As for the author of this essay, I held a bias against the IPA system as I wondered why I had to learn a third system in order to learn the second system (Thai). It turns out I was incorrect and it would have been better to learn not only the phonemes and phonology of Thai, but also that of English. A better understanding of both is the key to cutting through the confusion of Thai transcription systems that proliferate.
Topics to follow:
- Transcription system goals
- ASCII/En keyboard transcription
- Transcription systems
- True (full) IPA
- Hybrid systems
Thai languages, or languages in Thailand, are many and diverse. Scholars generally use the term Tai to refer to a larger language family which ranges across much of Mainland Southeast Asia and what is now Southern China. The main point is that there is ongoing research, different ideas, and not full agreement, on how to distinguish which languages are related to each other and which are siblings and which are parent languages.
Languages vs. Dialects
There is not a clear distinction where a dialect ends and a language begins. Presumably dialects are regional pronunciations and special local terms, whereas languages have much more of a difference which can result in mutual unintelligibility (the speaker of one language cannot understand the speaker of another language). Speakers of a language can grow apart, and their language then grows apart, resulting in two or more languages. Languages can also come together over time, such that a separate language starts to become mutually intelligible, where before it was not. And finally, many societies have multiple languages in use, and so intelligibility comes from close physical proximity of the languages and the speakers in the local area.
What usually happens in this case is that one language which is not a local language, and not the mother tongue of a majority of the inhabitants, is priviledged as a language of education or the economy.
How to Understand the Relations between Thai Languages
There are different ways of relating these languages to each other, but present scholarship is best understood as making the modern languages siblings at most, and unrelated languages most likely. It is common to hear each of these languages (with the exception of Malay) as being Thai, Thai Languages or Dialects of the Thai Language. Certainly they are languages spoken in Thailand, and have been for generations.
However, it is not accurate or useful to refer to these languages a part of a single language. Beyond the fact that these are generally mutually unintelligible, they also have very different histories and play a different function in the societies in which they live. Each is a mother tongue for a significant population, whereas Central Thai / Siamese is the national/government language. All languages except for Central Thai have been largely supressed as part of a nationalist Thaification policy which began in the 1940s and is operating up through the present.
Please see the Thai Font Poster which makes use of the Free Thai Font Collection
108 Free and Open Source Thai Fonts
The main goal of this repository is to provide -- in one place a set of freely (and legally) available Thai computer fonts. The collection of fonts show the diversity of Thai typefaces. While there are many different websites with fonts for download, some fonts are difficult to find, and many sites also have proprietary fonts which are not free, and their use violates intellectual property laws.
In addition, information about additional free-to-use fonts not hosted here is included, as well as information about standard proprietary Thai fonts, specifically those Thai fonts that come with Apple OSX and Microsoft Windows.
Note: we will be adding Arundina and Waree which are both TLWG Fonts (SIPA and NECTEC, respectively) but were not included. They have been a part of Linux distribution support for Thai fonts for many years.
Contents of the Thai Font Collection
The Lanna Innovation Thai Font Collection currently includes over 300 font files in 108 font families. Not all font families include multiple variants, but many do. Font files are in TTF or OTF file format. We intend to update all open source and pubic domain font files to OTF which has greater compatibility with modern applications. 14 of the font families (46 individual font styles) are Webfonts available on Google Fonts, which makes using them on websites quite easy.
- More about the Free and Open Source Thai fonts with download links. The licenses on these fonts allow us to distribute them.
Additional, Free-to-use Thai fonts
Information about 30 Additional, Free-to-use Thai fonts that can be downloaded from other websites. This is a curated collection of interesting and diverse fonts from a number of font creators and foundries.
Display Samples of Selected Characters in the Thai Font Collection
Additional, Free-to-use Thai fonts
Information about Additional, Free-to-use Thai fonts that can be downloaded from other websites. This is a curated collection of interesting and diverse fonts from a number of font creators and foundries.
Intellectual property protections for typefaces and fonts are questionable at best, though there are a few areas in which protections do hold, including Copyright, Design Rights (and Patents), and Trademark.1
Originally in the US and other jurisdictions, the idea of a typefaces is one which is pure utility (that is, smacking ink on paper, and conveying a glyph), and therefore there apparently was no art to it, no creation, and therefore no rights for copy protection.
This still holds today in terms of bitmapped fonts, which do not have anything unique about them. However, modern fonts are not bitmapped, but rather vectors (think svg rather than jpg/png/gif). And it turns out that there is some art to selecting vectors for a given typeface.
In a practical sense, however, making a new font out of an old one (that is, creating new vectors over a bitmap (not merely reverse engineering and copying the vectors in a given font), is not in violation of intellectual property law. Therefore look-alike fonts (done properly) are not illegal, and themselves are afforded the same protection (against copying the vectors or the fonts wholesale).
Design Patents and Design Rights
Some other kinds of intellectual property protections are awarded for design, in certain jurisdictions. In the US a Design Patent can be filed for fonts, and provides protection for 15 years (after 13 May 2015, previously it was 14 years). Microsoft generally files these, along with other larger companies, as patents are expensive to file and maintain.
In the UK there is a Design Right which provides 5 years of protection, and the ability to renew for 5 years, a total of 5 times, for up to 25 years of protection. This seems a stronger protection.
In the EU, there is a similar 5 year x 5 times design registration scheme. If designs are not registered, then they have an automatic 3 years of protection, which is non-renewable.
In Canada, fonts can be registered as a Design Patent with 5 years of protection, plus an additional 5 years extension possible.
In China, the law is quite muddled and cases are settled with conflicting interpretations, typefaces can be protected as computer programs, and as works of art.
Besides copyright and patent or design rights, there is also trademark, which is the name of the font or typeface. This protection means that look-alike fonts, while legal, must not infringe trademark rights (have the same or a derrived name). URW++ fonts got into trouble by simply prepending URW↩
Shipping is from Thailand, which can take 2-3 weeks for most countries, and 3-4 weeks for Australia. For faster shipping in North America and Europe, please visit Amazon which has all products available, with much faster delivery. Prices are slightly higher there. For shipping to Thailand locations, delvery is between 3-5 days using EMS.