Throughout the year, I’ve kept a running list of Thai words that relate to sound and listening, jotting down notes from interviews and books, and going through sections of the dictionary page-by-page. It turns out that the Thai language has piles of vocabulary to describe the sonic environment, from the poetic to the precise, from the inexplicable to the sublimely local. While I’m not sure if this language is better equipped than English to discuss sound, it certainly covers some idiosyncratic territory.

The list below is a small selection of what I’ve collected so far:

Thai [Transliteration] Translation


กุ๋ย [Guy] Sound of someone bragging
โก้ก [Gok] Sound of a spoon hitting a bowl
กรอด [Graawt] Sound of grinding teeth
ซู่ [Suu] Sound of rain flowing or sloshing
กึงกัง [Geung Gang] Sound of furniture being moved in an adjacent room
กระกรี๊ด [Gra Greet] Sound of a woman screaming in surprise
ฉับ ๆ [Chap] Sound of cutting a tree branch
ติ๋ง ๆ [Dting] Sound of dripping water
เปรี้ยง [Bpriang] Sound of thunder, or a gun
ผัวะ – [Phua] Sound of a slap, or a whip cracking
กระจองอแง [Gra Jaawng Angaae] Sound of children crying annoyingly
ฮือ ๆ – [Heuu Heuu] Sound of mourning or grieving
กราว [Graao] Sound of many solids hitting the ground at once
กิก [Gik] Sound of solids colliding (normal pitch)
กึก [Geuk] Sound of solids colliding (low pitch)
กึง [Geung] Sound of a hard thing hitting the floor
โกรง [Grong] Sound of impact from hollow things
เผละ [Phle] Sound of soft things falling
ขลุก [Khlook] Sound of a clay ball rolling fast
จุ๋ม [Joom] Sound of a pebble being thrown in a pond
แจะ [Jae] Sound of chewing
ซี้ด [Seet] Sound of someone eating something very spicy
ฮัดเช่ย [Hat Cheeuy] Sound of sneezing
ขาก [Khaak] Sound of coughing something up
โครกคราก [Krok Kraak] Sound of fluid bubbling in the stomach
ครืด [Khreuut] Sound of dragging something heavy
แปร๋น ๆ [Bpraaen Bpraaen] Sound made by an elephant
ตุ๊กแก [Dtook Gaae] Sound made by a gecko
เอ๋ง [Aehng Aehng] Sound made by an injured dog
กุบกับ [Goop Gap] Sound of a dog walking on the ground
ควาก [Khwaak] Sound of clothes ripping
แควก [Khwaaek] (A different) sound of clothes ripping

กระอ้อมแอ้ม [Gra Aawm Aaem] To stumble in speech because you know you’re guilty
กระอิดกระเอี้อน [Gra It Gra Eeuan] To delay action through words
กระอึกกระอัก [Gra Euk Gra Ak] To stumble from nervousness
กระชั้น [Gra Chan] To speak in short breaths
กรีด [Greet] To shriek (esp. women)
กระจุ๋งกระจิ๋ง [Gra Joong Gra Jing] To speak softly (esp. women – for some reason there are many sounds specific to women, but almost none specific to men)
กระปอดกระแปด [Gra bpaawt Gra Bpaaet] To speak in a grumbling manner, esp. to someone of higher status

ใหญ่ [Yai] – Thick, as a voice (like Whitney Houston, according my teacher)
เคลิ้ม [Kleum] – To be enthralled to a spoken message, esp. out of drowsiness

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