Hey, Hi, Hello,
This week we have a word with quite the exhaustive amount of definitions, despite the irony of exhaustion in this situation. Our word of the week is:
Part of Speech: Verb/Noun
a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities
freedom from activity or labor, a state of motionlessness or inactivity, the repose of death
a place for resting or lodging
peace of mind or spirit
Why rest? Because sometimes after a long day of translating and speaking Khmer, it can feel really good to sit down, read a book in English, and rest for a little bit. In fact, I think I will do just that.
Or, as we might say in English, peace be with you! I am back in the glorious city of Phnom Penh this week, and I get to stay for more than a few days! In honor of my return to my hostel home, and the opportunity to bask in the wonders of Cambodia’s capital, our word of the week is in Khmer.
Part of Speech: Noun
This week I have started a new method of learning Khmer vocabulary. Every lunch, and every dinner, I learn at least one new word. Then I write it down, and review it for the next few days until it is in my memory. I made this decision over the weekend when I realized that one of the main challenges in speaking, reading, or writing in a new language is vocabulary. Grammar, syntax, voice, and all the other fancy English terms we are taught mean absolutely nothing if there are not words to create the sentence in the first place. In order to fully embrace new vocabulary, I now have friends to help, and keep me accountable.
Our specific word of the week was chosen because it was my new word from dinner last night. On Tuesday nights, hostel students gather to watch videos about faith, and yesterday our theme was the Holy Spirit. Luckily, I watch the videos in English during the day, and then attend the night session and try to understand as much as I can in Khmer. This week, I understood a fair amount of the words purely because I knew this one. Though these steps may be small, every one continues to move me down the road!
While it seems to be a theme that I am never at home on Wednesdays to post the word of the week, technology is an amazing thing. So, this week’s word comes from my phone in the city of Sihanoukville, Cambodia:
Part of speech: noun
My word this week comes from Hebrew due to the newest phenomenon as my mind tries to learn Khmer. Toward the end of orientation my mind had realized that English was clearly not the language I should be speaking here, so it went to my default of Spanish. After these past few weeks of experiencing a mix of English, Spanish, and Khmer in my head, I suppose my brain got tired and decided a new approach was necessary. This week my mind has found any sound remotely close to a Hebrew word I know and automatically translated it as if it were not Khmer.
One specific incident occurred when I was eating dinner this Monday night. A restaurant just up the beach kept repeatedly playing happy birthday in English. About 10 minutes later, they began to play it multiple times in Khmer. Obviously the tune is farmiliar, so I decided to listen for words I recognized. Much to my excitement, I heard the word (or what sounded like the word) yōm. In my head I said, “Yōm means day! Happy birthDAY!” Quite pleased with myself I continued eating dinner. Not until later when I was attempting to say today (literally “this day” in Khmer) do I realize what I had done. I know day is “t’nai” in Khmer, but my mind was trying too hard to translate.
As I continue my time in Cambodia, my hope is that in a few more weeks Khmer becomes the default and I only mix up languages in my head 10% of the time. But, until that yōm, I guess I will keep practicing!
Well, after a week away, I am back on schedule with this week and we have a word! Actually, the word this week connects with the lack of word last week! Isn’t that fun? So, this week’s word is:
Part of speech: Noun
This word relates to last week in a few ways! First of all, I was invited to a friend’s home last week for Pchum Ben, the first of my Cambodian holidays. So, after returning from Siem Reap on Monday, I left for Kampong Chnnang on Tuesday. When I arrived, I was elated by the hospitality of everyone I met at her house and in her village. They would smile, offer me food, and want to know who I was, or where I was from. Not only does this word connect because I was staying in a village, but it also connects because it is a Khmer word. Last week my Khmer improved daily in noticeable amounts. I am still very, very far from having any type of real conversation, but after a week of listening and trying to communicate with a community that speaks no English, I am a bit more comfortable than I was.
In the end, I may have missed posting a word last week because of no internet access, but I gained so many words by living in the moment I was in, I am sure you can forgive me!