Thai Tonal Expression in Preschool Normal Children

Main Article Content

Worawan Wattanawongsawang
Krisna Lertsukprasert
Ravin Suvanich


Background: Thai language is a tonal language which has five tones: low, mid, high, falling and rising. Previous studies have examined the development of Thai tone expression in a small sample size. The purpose of this study is to investigate tone expression in a group of 480 typicallydeveloping boys and girls from different regions of Thailand in order to examine trends in the acquisition of tone expression including the possibility of developmental differences associated with gender and geographic area.

Method: Participants were 480 children from 2 years to 5 years 11 months of age, divided into four age groups (2 - 2;11, 3 - 3;11, 4 - 4;11 and 5 - 5;11). Tone expression was investigated with the use of a picturenaming task.

Results: The results demonstrate a non significant difference between genders and geographic area at p value > .05 and the tone expression of age level at 2 - 2.11 significantly related with age level at 4 - 4.11 and 5 - 5.11 and age level at 3 - 3.11 significantly related with age level at 5 - 5.11. This result found an increasing of percent of correctly tone expression with increasing chronological age.

Conclusions: There was no significant effect of gender and geographic area on tone expression accuracy. There was a significant difference in tone expression accuracy between 2 - 2.11 and 4 - 4.11 and 5 - 5.11 and 3 - 3.11 significant related with age level at 5 - 5.11.


Article Details

How to Cite
Wattanawongsawang, W., Lertsukprasert, K., & Suvanich, R. (2015). Thai Tonal Expression in Preschool Normal Children. Ramathibodi Medical Journal, 38(2), 82–87. Retrieved from
Original Articles


So L, Dodd B. The acquisition of phonology by Cantonese-speaking children. J Child Language. 1995;22:473-95.

Fong KM. Tonal development of normally developing children age 12-24 months. (dissertation). Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong; 2004.

Zhu H, Dodd B. The phonological acquisition of Putonghua (abstract). J Child Language. 2000;27:3-24.

Li CN, Thompson SA. The acquisition of tone in Mandarin-speaking children. J Child Language. 1997;4:185-99.

Tuaychareon P. The phonetic and phonological development of Thai baby: from early communicative interaction of speech. (dissertation). London: University of London; 1977.

Onsuwan C, Duangmal J, Panpraneet P. Production and perception of Thai lexical tone and intonation in children. (Panel discussion, organized by Dr. Denis Burnham and Chutamenee Onsuwan: “Language acquisition in Thai: Current knowledge, challenges and issues”). Paper presented at the 12th International Conference on Thai Studies, University of Sydney, Australia. 2014.

Klann DG. Sex and language acquisition- Is there any influence? J Pragmatics. 1981;5:1-25.

Fluharty NB. The design and standardization of a speech and language screening test for use with preschool children. J Speech Hearing Dis. 1974;39:75-88.

To CKS, Cheung PSP, Mcleod S. A population study of children’s acquisition of Hong Kong Cantonese consonants, vowels and tones. J Speech Language Hearing Res. 2013;56:103-22.

Wilainam W. The production ability of verbs in Thai children aged 3 years to 4 years 11 months in Bangkok. (dissertation). Bangkok: Mahidol University; 1996.

Onsuwan C, Tantibundhit C, Saimai T, Saimai N, Chootrakool P, Thatphithakkul S. Analysis of Thai tonal identification in noise: Paper presented at the 14th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology, University of Sydney, Australia. 2012.