Introduction: Using High Frequency Thai Vocabulary

Using High Frequency Thai Vocabulary

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Introduction: Using High Frequency Thai Vocabulary…

I’m proud to announce the High Frequency Thai Vocabulary series!

In a nutshell, whenever we get around to it, using a Top 3000 Thai Vocabulary List we’ll share patterns created via category. Hugh Leong (retirement blogger and Thai phrasemaker extraordinaire) will tackle the more complicated Thai patterns.

Note: There will be no transliteration included in this series. If you do desire transliteration, feel free to add the transliteration of your choice to the free pdf downloads offered in each post.

A recap on the top 3000+ Thai vocabulary list…

As explained previously, to create the list I started with Thai Frequency Lists.

Combining choice lists in a spreadsheet, I handed it over to programmer Mark Hollow, who then collated 17,000++ words down to 6000 (give or take). After adding the vocabulary from Essential Thai as a quality marker (thanks Jim!) a Thai teacher and I trimmed the list down to 3000 and a bit.


You can download the spreadsheet here: High Frequency Thai Vocabulary list

Note: As we work through the series the Thai vocabulary list will be tweaked – words added and deleted, categories refined – so expect updates in each new post.

Curious about how others gathered vocabulary used in their Thai courses, I went to Jim Higbie (Essential Thai) and Benjawan Becker (Paiboon Publishing).

James (Jim) Higbie: When I chose the basic vocabulary for the first part of Essential Thai I took an “organic” approach, that is I took words that Thais used in basic conversation – the words you would most often hear Thais saying. This is a good way to approach Thai because the language is very much attached to Thai culture and their discourse.

Benjawan Becker: I design the subject for each lesson first and then come up with vocabulary and sentences.

Good to hear! Just like Jim, we chose the most common words out of the tens of thousands found in the Thai frequency lists. And similar to Benjawan, each post will focus on an individual subject.

Please stay tuned for Hugh’s first post: The Thai Double อยู่.

32 thoughts on “Introduction: Using High Frequency Thai Vocabulary”

  1. “I’ll have recordings for the entire list (using a real Thai speaker, not a text to computer generated voice).”

    That never happened. Sad for the person who pronounced it all…

  2. “Oh well, that’s another day not doing chores 555”

    Well, if you are looking for excuses, check your inbox (you’ll see my excuse for not getting much of anything else done 😀

  3. Just looked at them both quickly. I will download and try them out today. Oh well, that’s another day not doing chores 555

  4. Thanks, I’ll look at them. I use a PC (and a Linux computer also an iPhone so I can run most apps) I should get out more, I think 😉

  5. No. I found Anki and as it met my needs more or less, I have stuck with it. Though I must admit, I have not used it often enough or effectively enough. The app I use most of all is the Paiboon Thai-English-Thai dictionary for iPhone

  6. Thanks Keith, that’s be great! I don’t use Anki – is there an easy way to incorporate sound files? I’ll have recordings for the entire list (using a real Thai speaker, not a text to computer generated voice).

  7. Cat, When we get to a more or less final list I will send you a “ready-made” Anki deck. For those who would rather have that

  8. Flawocl, please be sure to download the latest frequency list (now uploaded above). There are still tweaks to be made… (almost there).

    Keith, thanks for sharing your instructions for creating an Anki deck!

  9. Flawocl,

    Below instructions for making Anki deck from the list and exporting it as an Anki2 package I don’t have Ankidroid but assume it can load Anki packages:
    1. Download and unzip file.
    2. Load file into spreadsheet program
    3. delete all empty rows and title row.
    4. Delete all columns except B and C (English and Thai)
    5 Save as csv file. Name it something simple like 3000.csv and make sure you are saving as UTF-8

    6. Now open Anki
    7. In Anki File>Import and choose 3000.csv to open
    8. On the Import options choose something similar to:-
    Type Basic (optional reversed card) Deck 3000words
    Field 1 is Front Field 2 is Back
    Click Import
    9. When Anki has finished its work and produced a list of errors that you can fiddle with or ignore, click File>Export
    10. Choose options Export format Anki Deck Package
    Include 3000words Click export
    11. Choose name of Export file and save.

  10. Does anyone know of a way to convert the frequency list file into something I could use/import into AnkiDroid?, I would like to begin using this list but before I commit the time to print the entire thing and make flash cards I thought I would check first

    Thanks for the time creating this

  11. Michel, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve trimmed down the numbers. There was 35, 15 and such (not needed) but no 50 (needed).

    I’ve compiled this list from many frequency lists and they are all missing common words like dinner (they have breakfast and lunch though). Frequency lists are ok but they clearly need the attention of a human. Lots of attention. We just spent eight over more hours on the list culling, tweaking, refining.

  12. You are welcome Kayla. I put together a frequency list several years back but I wasn’t satisfied with it. I’m now comparing the two and the most common words are in agreement. So I guess there is something to be said about frequency lists (no matter how wonky they are developed). But a human eye is needed to get them in shape.

  13. Btw – yesterday I was sent the vocab list from Assimil Thai. When comparing Assimil to what I’ve compiled I came across common words that the other frequency lists have somehow overlooked so they will be added. It’ll take awhile to tweak this list to make it the best ever… early days.

  14. MIchel, as I explained in the post, the vocabulary list has been compiled from frequency lists. And they do indeed include numbers. Not knowing how to count/read in your target language would be awfully strange. Also included are days of the week, months, colours… 😉

  15. Nice list. But why is it including nine, ninety and nintyone? This is imho more related to knowing how to count opposed to pure vocab.

  16. Martyn, it might seem kinda cruel but with the pdf downloads people can add the transliteration of their choice very easily. Also, if you want to hear how the Thai sounds, these days you can do it quickly via your computer (highlight the text and tell your computer to read it out loud). The quality, especially for short sentences, is quite high.

  17. Catherine – No transliteration included in this series… isn’t that like taking away the kids calculators before a Mathematics exam…. seriously, it’s an excellent project and one which will benefit many especially as the list will contain everyday spoken Thai phrases.

  18. Thanks Lawrence! I sympathise about all the paper it’d take to print the list. We printed it many times (using both sides of the paper, of course). The list still needs tweaking but I wanted to get this post live.

  19. Wow Cat, that is quite a list. Now what to do with it? I would print it out but the cost of ink and paper would probably bankrupt me! Thanks for all the hard work, it’s really impressive.


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