Some tongue twisters are hard even for native speakers to master. In Thai, this wordplay on eating winter melons has tripped up students for years: “เช้าฟาดผัดฟัก เย็นฟาดฟักผัด”. But today they won’t need to think of the right spelling, thanks to Google Voice Search, now available in Thai.

"Speak now" in Thai and the search results for “เช้าฟาดผัดฟัก เย็นฟาดฟักผัด”

The Thai language posed some unique challenges for searching for voice. To start with, it has no spaces between words, making it more difficult for a computer to know where a word begins and ends. Imagine if you were saying "to get her a gift" but this kept being captured as "together a gift". That’s the kind of challenge our team had to overcome — correctly segmenting each word from spoken to written Thai so that Google is able to understand exactly what is being said, everytime. What’s more, Thai speakers often throw in English words in both spoken and written Thai. How does a computer know when to switch languages?

It took us four years, more than 200 hours of spoken samples and a dedicated group of Googlers to capture the beauty and range of the Thai language. Some 700 volunteers spoke popular search queries in their native tongue, in noisy restaurants, busy streets and inside cars — all acoustic conditions where voice search should come in handy.

Thai joins a handful of other Asian languages and dialects that are available on Voice Search, including
Bahasa Indonesia,Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Bahasa Malaysia, Tagalog, Mandarin, and Cantonese. We look forward to bringing Voice Search to speakers of many more Asian languages — and those who just want a simpler and more intuitive search experience.

Posted by Pornthip Kongchun, Head of Marketing, Google Thailand