Help translating an idiom

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taabarang
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Help translating an idiom

Postby taabarang » Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:45 pm

First, the idiom was one I overheard during a heated discussion. It was the only Cambodian I could understand, practically all exchanges were at machine gun speed. So the back ground introduction is very limited. Here you go:

meul muk khnyom aoii cham.

Now one word of caution. "Cham" here does not mean "wait.". In fact the vowel is not "a" at all, but the short Cambodian"o" vowel for which I unfortunately have no symbol. So the word means approximately the same as "trang" or straight ahead. So I gather the whole meaning to be, "look at me right in the face."

OK fine but I'll bet it's an idiom whose translation is totally situational and could change depending on the circumstances. So I'll invent a couple for your feedback.

So Jamie goes to bar and gets really hot for girl whom he unfortunately mistakes for a bar girl. Hitting on her with all his charm she rebuffs him by saying, "meul muk khnoym aoii cham.". Would it be right to translate this as "What kind of a girl do you take me for?"

Then her irate boyfriend comes back from taking a piss, sizes up the situation and threatens to destroy Jamie, who being a quick learner calmly says, ",meul muk khnoym aoii cham" which I would translate under these circumstances as something along the lines of "Better take a good look and think again.". I confess I've gotten a lot of mileage out of Jamie in this hypothetical situation, but am I getting too much mileage from the idiom. Feedback please.

In short I think the intent of the idiom is,"You'd better size up the situation and think again."
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Re: Help translating an idiom

Postby thelost » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:30 pm

i think you're right.

cham sounds like jom to me, which is like right on, so the phrase means "look at me right in the face" like you said.

មើលមុខខ្ញុំអោយចំ

yes, sounds like a situational thing...so i guess it's like "do you know who i am" in a way beacause in khmer, face is kind of like a person's character, reputation.
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Re: Help translating an idiom

Postby taabarang » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:54 pm

Very good observation thelost, inspite of my knowing that I overlooked it. I'd like a consensus, could you ask other family members how they feel about my translations?
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Re: Help translating an idiom

Postby Jamie_Lambo » Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:18 pm

thelost wrote:i think you're right.

cham sounds like jom to me, which is like right on, so the phrase means "look at me right in the face" like you said.

មើលមុខខ្ញុំអោយចំ

yes, sounds like a situational thing...so i guess it's like "do you know who i am" in a way beacause in khmer, face is kind of like a person's character, reputation.
yeah i translate it to being "look at me right/directly in the face"

as a direct translation it gives off the impression as to someone making a point as to how serious they are,
as in "look at my face, i am not fucking about/joking around" or "look at my face im being serious"

i understand thelost point also, it could also possibly be that
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Re: Help translating an idiom

Postby thelost » Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:02 pm

I've asked my wife and so here it is.

She said this phrase is mostly used when someone accused a person of doing something or being something, for example, a liar.
Then the person will retort back saying "Look at me/my face, do you think I am that kind of person?" which is the gist of the phrase "Merl mook knyom aoy jom!"

She also said this phrase sometimes can be used, but not always, when a person with high status/position confront the person based on an actual or perceived insult, and will say "merl mook anh aoy jom" meaning "do you know who the fuck am i?" - i have added the word anh អញ instead of knyom because that's what people will say.
She said she think people don't really use that phrase in situations like when a jealous boyfriend is confronting a man hitting on his girlfriend.
Most of the time if they want to say "do you know who i am?" to a greater effect, they will say "aeng deng anh pi na" - ឯងដឹងអញពីណា? which means "do you fucking know who i am" before saying they're the son of Okhna/military/goverment/rich man/whatever connection.
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Re: Help translating an idiom

Postby taabarang » Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:40 pm

"She also said this phrase sometimes can be used, but not always, when a person with high status/position confront the person based on an actual or perceived insult, and will say "merl mook anh aoy jom" meaning "do you know who the fuck am i?" - i have added the word anh អញ instead of knyom because that's what people will say.
She said she think people don't really use that phrase in situations like when a jealous boyfriend is confronting a man hitting on his girlfriend.
Most of the time if they want to say "do you know who i am?" to a greater effect, they will say "aeng deng anh pi na" - ឯងដឹងអញពីណា? which means "do you fucking know who i am" before saying they're the son of Okhna/military/goverment/rich man/whatever connection."

Thank you for that and I accept it. The only difficulty for me is that I know the parties involved and it happened at the morning market where there was not even our mephom present much less an oknya. Oh well one more reason to stay alive in th KofW.
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Re: Help translating an idiom

Postby taabarang » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:53 pm

taabarang wrote:"She also said this phrase sometimes can be used, but not always, when a person with high status/position confront the person based on an actual or perceived insult, and will say "merl mook anh aoy jom" meaning "do you know who the fuck am i?" - i have added the word anh អញ instead of knyom because that's what people will say.
She said she think people don't really use that phrase in situations like when a jealous boyfriend is confronting a man hitting on his girlfriend.
Most of the time if they want to say "do you know who i am?" to a greater effect, they will say "aeng deng anh pi na" - ឯងដឹងអញពីណា? which means "do you fucking know who i am" before saying they're the son of Okhna/military/goverment/rich man/whatever connection."

Thank you for that and I accept it. The only difficulty for me is that I know the parties involved and it happened at the morning market where there was not even our mephom present much less an oknya. Oh well one more reason to stay alive in th KofW.
I have to add as an afterthought that I find this whole medieval caste system repugnant and unproductive. Why UNTAC thought democracy would be successful in a country that never has philosophical preparation for one much less had ever enjoyed one is beyond me.
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Re: Help translating an idiom

Postby thelost » Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:30 am

taabarang wrote: Thank you for that and I accept it. The only difficulty for me is that I know the parties involved and it happened at the morning market where there was not even our mephom present much less an oknya. Oh well one more reason to stay alive in th KofW.

I have to add as an afterthought that I find this whole medieval caste system repugnant and unproductive. Why UNTAC thought democracy would be successful in a country that never has philosophical preparation for one much less had ever enjoyed one is beyond me.
i guess you were involved in a rather heated discussion where a party is accusing a party of something. and everyone lose their marbles, sort of.

i think the thais and khmers are very similar in regard to this aspect of "medieval caste system" when we're talking about how to address people based on their social rank and age. well actually, did you know the khmer rouge tried to destroy this mentality by forcing everyone to speak their own way i.e. no social register language.
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Re: Help translating an idiom

Postby taabarang » Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:08 am

thelost wrote, "well actually, did you know the khmer rouge tried to destroy this mentality by forcing everyone to speak their own way i.e. no social register language."

Yep "comrade" is an unsuitable replacement and fails just as grandly as democracy . So what kind of govt. do the Cambodians now have? It seems to me a mixture of post communism and ruthless 19th century capitalism. The former because there is a huge class of underpaid civil servants (soldiers, cops, teachers, ministry underlings etc) so the old social order prevails. The latter of course because of its laissez faire nature. So now money is the some what new way of keeping score which of course is a breeding ground for corruption. Not only that, but they have been able to keep their xenophobia which is inherent in the culture. As you mentioned yourself you are a child of Cambodian parents but are viewed as a foreigner. It's the same with my kids. They were born in Cambodia to a Cambodian mother, they attend a Cambodian public school and their first language is Cambodian. When talking with maiyeh I mentioned to her that I recognize them as Cambodian stating the reasons I just listed to which she replied but they're not Cambodian. So, Ok maiyeh when will they be? To which she said that they would have to marry a PURE Cambodian and their children likewise. Their children would then be pure Khmer. So, it takes a lot of fucking to expunge that nasty foreign blood.

I have lost all the optimism I brought to this country years ago. I no longer blame the US, China, UNTAC, Vietnam or any other country. One day Cambodia will awaken and find itself with no future thanks to its cultural values. As for me I am a dying old man and this place will do as well as any other. It's my kids I am concerned about: they deserve a future.
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Re: Help translating an idiom

Postby thelost » Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:11 pm

taabarang wrote: Yep "comrade" is an unsuitable replacement and fails just as grandly as democracy . So what kind of govt. do the Cambodians now have? It seems to me a mixture of post communism and ruthless 19th century capitalism. The former because there is a huge class of underpaid civil servants (soldiers, cops, teachers, ministry underlings etc) so the old social order prevails. The latter of course because of its laissez faire nature. So now money is the some what new way of keeping score which of course is a breeding ground for corruption. Not only that, but they have been able to keep their xenophobia which is inherent in the culture. As you mentioned yourself you are a child of Cambodian parents but are viewed as a foreigner. It's the same with my kids. They were born in Cambodia to a Cambodian mother, they attend a Cambodian public school and their first language is Cambodian. When talking with maiyeh I mentioned to her that I recognize them as Cambodian stating the reasons I just listed to which she replied but they're not Cambodian. So, Ok maiyeh when will they be? To which she said that they would have to marry a PURE Cambodian and their children likewise. Their children would then be pure Khmer. So, it takes a lot of fucking to expunge that nasty foreign blood.

I have lost all the optimism I brought to this country years ago. I no longer blame the US, China, UNTAC, Vietnam or any other country. One day Cambodia will awaken and find itself with no future thanks to its cultural values. As for me I am a dying old man and this place will do as well as any other. It's my kids I am concerned about: they deserve a future.
You're right, post communism and ruthless 19th century capitalism with a bit of corruption thrown in. I think the government is the biggest player in corruption, they are literally the ruler of the country. the king is just merely a figurehead.

Yeah, I know what it feels like to be an outsider. I'll never fit in that society if I went to live in Cambodia. Next time you meet someone like Maiyeh, laugh. Ask for the definition of PURE cambodian. Ask them do they celebrate Chinese New Year, do anything that is Chinesey? A lot of Khmers are mixed in Cambodia especially in the provincial cities and capital cities. The hypocrisy lol.

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