👋 "How Are You" = "Did You Eat Rice Yet?" 🍚 Cultural Insight Through Cambodian Slang 🙋‍♂️

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    justinparke

    Published on Oct 04, 2021
    About :

    In Cambodia, "Did You Eat Rice Yet?" is the colloquial form of "How Are You?" Learning this many years ago provided me great insight into the Cambodian culture and mentality.

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    Decoding "How Are You?"

         Rice is life in Cambodia, just as it is in many rice-growing developing countries around the world. When something has been a central element to one's culture for a few thousand years, it tends to work its way into every aspect of life, from the language to the mentality, and beyond.

         As I slowly learned the Khmer language many years ago, I enjoyed stumbling upon phrases, idioms, and expressions that reveal the Khmer mentality and culture. In English, the word "rice" is used to describe the plant, the uncooked product, the cooked product, the name of the field it's grown in, etc.

         Because rice wasn't a central element in the development of the English language, this one word has always seemed to suffice for me. In Cambodia where rice is an integral part of daily life, there are different singular vocabulary words for "rice field," "booked rice," "uncooked hulled rice," "unhulled rice," "rice plant," and just about anything to do with rice.

         With this in mind, I decided to highlight the only slang/colloquial form of the expression "How are you?" in the Khmer language. The question "Ɲam baay haəy nɨv?" literally means "Eat rice already yet?", and of course it's used to ask is someone has eaten yet.

         This question can also be used in place of the Khmer equivalent of "How are you?", and it reveals so much about the culture. When you become more than just an acquaintance with a Cambodian, they may choose to start asking you if you've eaten rice instead of asking how you are.

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    Fellow (ASEAN) Hivers, what are the colloquial/slang way(s) to ask "How are you? in your language(s)?

    Please let me know in the comments below.

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