On a recent photowalk, I came across a Muay Thai training gym tucked behind a small Chinese temple on the banks of the Chao Phraya river. Using my limited Thai, I was able to find out when they practiced, and I went back later that week to photograph the practice. The week after that, I returned with a translator so I could get a better idea of what I was seeing. The gym is called Sit Chaansing. It is named for the master, as coaches are referred to in Muay Thai, who trained the current Muay Thai master, Chanamet Tongsalay….
I had an eye-opening (or ear-opening) language lesson today with one of the teachers whom I normally don’t have. She explained that Thai has a spoken rhythm that is pretty much unvarying across speakers (as well as the rules about tones), unlike in English where rhythm and intonation are more idiosyncratic to the speaker. English speakers aren’t used to these rhythms, so it is hard for us to pick out the important words in a sentence. We also have difficulties understanding spoken Thai because we/learn/to/say/each/Thai/word/in·di·vid·u·al·ly/and/pre·cise·ly insteaddalearningthemthuhwaytheyrackshallypronounstinnasentence.