From Cambodia to Japan

A Cambodian Student Looks at Life in Two Different Worlds

An Embarrassing Experience of Learning a Foreign Language

It happened whilst I was studying Japanese at a Foreign Language University.

It was Tuesday which by schedule was a conversation day, and the new subject was about animal and the sounds of animal. There were eight students in my class, three from Mongolia, two from Romania, one from Hungaria, another one from Philippine, and me from Cambodia. My teacher was asking every student to imitate the sounds of dogs barking in their respective languages.

On that day my eyes were kind of half-shut and half-open, as a result of late night party, chatting and drinking ; that is to say, I wasn’t quite following the teacher. All I heard were “bow-bow," " wow-wow," and "how-how." Those were actually the sounds of dogs barking in Hungarian, Romanian and Mongolian language. Then I heard the teacher said: “…It sounds like 'wan-wan'”. She then turned to me and said, “what does in sound like in your language?”

I caught only her final phrase “wan-wan” which was in fact the sound of Japanese dog makes when it barks, and I had no idea it sounds that way in Japanese. So I assumed she was asking me to pronounced number one in my own language, since "wan-wan" sounded somehow like "one-one."

“It sounds like 'mouy-mouy',” I replied.

“Mouy-mouy?”my teacher mimicked, looking a little surprised and suspicious.

“Are you sure it’s 'Mouy Mouy'?”

"I’m absolutely certain that it’s 'mouy-mouy'," I said.

Although I am a bit sleepy, I still remember my own language perfectly well, I thought.

Then she turned to other students and said,“they bark 'mouy-mouy!" Don’t you think Cambodian dogs are weird? ”

Now you can tell how embarrassed I felt. Of course, the dogs never bark "mouy-mouy." They make the sound " woh-woh," “wow-wow” or “bow-wow” just like Japanese, Romanian or American dogs!

16 Responses to “An Embarrassing Experience of Learning a Foreign Language”

  1. # Blogger Sopha

    OH be careful next time! Hope u won't confuse from KOK KE KÉ KERT to KAB KAB KAB te na.  

  2. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Funny enought! *** (three star)  

  3. # Anonymous Anonymous

    btw where was the place u studied?
    Tokyo gaidai? Osaka gaidai? or u just a fiction?  

  4. # Blogger seserak

    Of course,it did happen.Characters are real;so is the place and the plot.It took place in one of the school you mentioned.  

  5. # Anonymous Anonymous

    s.o who came to jp in 2002 surely know him ;)  

  6. # Blogger seserak

    I guess so,

    Are you also among the chosen six?

    Or are you someone else I know?  

  7. # Blogger Nomore

    Funny story ! Thanks for sharing. I think in Cambodian a dog barking sound could be "bow wow" for the small dog or more like "Woof woof" for a bigger dog like a german-shepard. This reminds me of sound of the duck. In American/English the sound of a duck is "quack quack", yet in Khmer we sound the duck as "Kab kab".

    Take care!  

  8. # Blogger pr

    hahaha...very funny.

    you know what?
    quack, quack is the sound the duck makes, but kab, kab is for the way the duck makes the quack, quack sound. Oh, what did I say? Did you get it?  

  9. # Blogger Peter

    It's great that Cambodia is starting a new beginning!  

  10. # Blogger leakenak

    Ha...ha..I also had funny embarasing story while i first studied at Japanese Language Center!  

  11. # Blogger seserak

    Then tell me what is that funny story about. I am all ears!


  12. # Blogger A Khmer Villager

    Your story made me laugh inside out. You are master story teller in your own way, you know? So good, deserving all of all the stars in I really did laugh myself silly.  

  13. # Anonymous Anonymous

    i happen to just found ur Emarrassing Experience. gosh!!!!! that so funny, when the teacher told the other student how weird cambodian dog sound. ha ha ha u made our dogs sound weird.  

  14. # Anonymous Anonymous

    That was a very funny story. I just came across your blog on a google search. Keep up the blogging! :)  

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