Thought it was about time for a language update given its been nearly 8 months since my last update. I have now given 2 lectures on Old Testament at Phnom Penh Bible School, in Khmer. My Khmer reading and writing have improved dramatically having now prepared 4 lectures. When working from my English draft I can translate it to Khmer in about 6hrs (that’s about 6-8 pages of written Khmer). My speaking (more of a lecture form of speaking) is improving slowly with each new week of teaching. My speaking in conversations and with questions is still where I find it the hardest. There are many conversations where I can get the main point and answer well. But below are three scenarios that still happen with regular frequency. I’ll be listening to a conversation and the speaker will be talking and I’ll hear:
I’m worried… don’t dare… addicted… [unspecified time] so I don’t want coffee 3 cups… [unspecified time] 3 pigs not in there but there is either pork or chicken… the fish blah blah blah which means blah blah blah and then… it’s cooked.
In some conversations, this is what I get out of the Khmer that I hear. Most of the time I understand a good majority of the words. But because my grammar understanding is still growing and my processing time is also slow, the conversation is onto the next sentence before I’ve processed and understood the last. What this means is that I use the words and other clues and try and guess the meaning and can usually get close. This is at my best.
Then, there will be times like this:
Question: Khmer Khmer Khmer Khmer Khmer Khmer Khmer?
Me: Could you please repeat that?
I didn’t catch any of what was being said, but I have enough energy, time or motivation to try and find out what was said.
Then there are times like this:
Person speaking: Khmer Khmer Khmer Khmer Khmer Khmer Khmer (either a question or statement, I’m not sure)
Me: Yes Yes Okay Yes
Me (to myself): I have no idea. What did I just agree to?
Unfortunately, there are also these days. Where I have no idea what is being said, but I just nod yes either because I don’t have the time or energy to figure it out — the bobbing dog head syndrome.
This next year at the Bible School will provide opportunities for exponential gains in my language abilities. Stay tuned!