The language of Cambodia, called “Khmer” and usually pronounced K-mye, is hardly heard around the world. No one who doesn’t live here needs to speak, understand or write it.
It happens that I have an aptitude for language. I can get along somewhat in French and Spanish (the latter sadly falling into disuse now that I have left New York) perhaps because I took the not unusual path in olden times of studying Latin for a year or two in junior high school.
Thus did I decide to pick up a little Khmer when I decided last year to move to Phnom Penh. With echoes of the Ugly American reverberating in my brain, I considered it appropriate to study the language if I was to be a resident of the country.
Not to learn the language struck me then and strikes me now as arrogant.
The irony is that Continue reading