Culture of Language - Cambodia

Wednesday 08 May

Kim explores how language communicates more than just words. 

"Navigating a new culture is full of so many interesting twists and turns. Learning language doesn’t just help you communicate, but it helps you understand the values and emphasis of a culture. In Khmer there is one word that describes so many emotions. Happy, excited, fun, content, fulfilled and almost all positive feelings are frequently summed up in one word, ‘Sabay’. 

The flip side is true though when talking about rice. In Khmer there are different words for rice in its stages of growth, harvest and cooking. Rice is a central part of life in Khmer culture, and a day without rice is a day you don’t eat. 

So when I turn to the English translations of the Bible I am confronted by the fact that there is not a single scripture that talks about rice. ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ was prayed by Jesus in a culture where fresh bread was made every day. To the Khmer people a prayer that would make sense to them is, ‘Give us this day our daily rice’. Could Jesus also be the ‘Rice of Life’? Slowly, slowly we are learning cultural values, core beliefs and to lay aside our own prescriptive methods in order to share life in a way that makes sense here."

This is an excerpt from Kim and Craig's article in Resonate magazine, you can read the full article on page 2 of edition 33 here (view online) or here (printable PDF). « Back to News