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The Bangkok Podcast

Dec 20, 2022

Ed goes back to school and gets a Thai lesson from the master himself, Stu Jay Raj. Ed recounts a common backstory, wherein he made serious effort to learn Thai during his first two years in Thailand - and even ended up marrying his Thai language teacher! But after that, he more or less plateaued and is looking for a way to jump start (or jump ‘re-start’) his Thai language learning. 

In Part One of a two part series, Stu analyzes a short conversation Ed recorded with a Thai friend, Anna from Lampang. Stu brings out the microscope and focuses on Ed’s failure to grasp the ‘glottal stop’ and its function in Thai language. In short, many Thai consonants are voiced in the back of the throat and don’t involve pushing air out of the front of the mouth. After practicing a bit, Ed makes some headway, but he’s got a lot of work to do.

Next, Stu points out that Ed’s Thai vowels are haphazard in length, when precision with vowels is a key to Thai comprehension. Stu notes that often foreigners get obsessed with tones, which are undoubtedly important, when they should be focusing more on clear pronunciation of vowels, which add ‘color’ to a word. 

Stu’s advice is pointed, but even in this short lesson, Ed manages to make some progress. In Part Two, Stu delves into other issues such as word choice and ‘prosody’ or the rhythm at which someone speaks. 

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