One of the joys of learning a new language is that there will come a time when you meant to say something but instead what you actually said is totally offside or incorrect. Its the perfect opportunity to laugh at one's self and to have others laugh at you. So I knew it was just a matter of time when I would make a language faux pas. However in my defence, I didn't know that two English words could mean a word in Khmer---its interesting the things you discover along the way. So what was my language mistake.
Well, a couple weeks ago after an outreach at a local slum area, I went to dinner with some of Pastor Chantha's disciples. As they are all young people in their late teens and early 20s, I often tease them about all sorts of things. If you have been following the blog, you would know that I have been trying to match make my language instructor with one of Pastor Chantha's disciples. Well, they did meet and it was kinda cute as my little sister 'S'' responded in such a shy way when she met my language teacher that I was a bit shocked as she is usually quite chatty. So it was a good opportunity to ask some cultural questions to my language teacher what is typical kind of interaction between the young men and women. He actually though she was quite pretty and said that it is quite normal for girls to be quiet and act shy. He mentioned that he likes it when the girls are not too chatty.
Of course, when I talk to ''S'' about this with the rest of the disciples, I asked her what she thought of my language teacher and she said he is quite handsome! When I heard that, I couldn't help tease her some more and so I said ''you see, you are both the same age, you would make a perfect match.' All of a sudden she started laughing. So I thought it was because I was teasing her but she said you think we are the ''same age''. She just kept on laughing. At that point, I knew something was up. So I said to her ''hat eye nyack south?' Which means ''why are you laughing?'' She proceeded to tell me that in Khmer the word for a man's penis is ''same age''---at that point, I was totally embarrassed and then she proceeded to tell all the other disciples the story and asked them if they wanted to marry some one with the ''same age''. You can imagine the roar of laughter that erupted around the table.
I am so thankful to be around these young people. At least my language faux pas was said in their company and not some high ranking Cambodian official!