the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

Lesson 2 : Small Talk

In our last Akha language lesson we shared three simple greetings in Akha, with the third greeting being "How are you doing?" or "How's life?". This is a very polite question, and a great segway into further conversation.

Learning Akha : How are you?

All cultures have small talk, be it about the weather, family, food, business or environment. Unlike Americans, however, if you ask an Akha how they are doing they won't always say "Fine". You will most likely receive one of two responses.

The first response: "I am living well" or "My life/health is good"

The second response:
"I am not well" or "My life/health is not good"

Learning Akha : Where are you from?

Most Akha would love to talk with you and are interested in you personally. In Akha culture, the first thing asked of a visitor is what village the the visitor is from and who they are related to. Since you are reading this blog in English, you are most likely a pala (this is what the Akha in Thailand call non-asian foreigners), so one of the small-talk conversations they will want to have with you is where you are from. You also can ask them (especially if you meet them in the city) what village they are from - they'll get a kick out of that!

The question:
"What village are you from?"

The response:
"I am from [dama gojo]" (replace [dama gojo] with America or Deutschland or with appropriate response - add Thai tones to your country if you know how)

Learning Akha : What is your name?

If you make it this far through a conversation the person you are speaking to will certainly want to know your name. They are likely to ask and you are welcome to ask in return.

The question:
"What is your name?"

The response:
"My name is [Mi-Nym]" (replace [Mi-Nym] with your name)

That's all for this lesson! Remember to imitate the TONES of speech very carefully: they are critical. Once you get these phrases down you can greet an Akha and begin a small conversation in which you discuss 1.Your general well-being, 2.Where you are from, and exchange of names.

This conversation will lead to more questions about family (children, etc.) but we'll save that for next time.

Happy learning!


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