Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Things I'll miss: #10 The Khmer Language

Consonant practice

I gave up my Khmer lessons back in September, but I still pick up new words every now and then, generally food-related, like how to ask for sticky rice at the market. I love surprising people by going beyond your usual "Hi, I'm from the USA. I like mangos." to asking about their family and their work and other advanced-beginning sorts of topics. Even when I tell people I've been here 9 months, they're still amazed that I've picked up enough Khmer to ask them the number and age of their children and explain what I'm doing in Cambodia. There's the joy of talking, and then there's the letters, which are so beautiful that just practicing them was like meditation. So many signs are in English here, but I'm delighted when lettering is in Khmer -- even though I can't understand it (I gave up before I made my way through all the vowels) it's pretty to look at.

It's going to be sad to go back to the States where only a small number of people even know what Khmer is. I will have to take some trips to Long Beach to practice.

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