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Thursday, March 1, 2018

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Vietnamese restaurant owned by woman who speaks seven languages--Phnom Penh











Vietnamese restaurant owned by woman who speaks seven languages--Phnom Penh (detail)








One of many Vietnamese restaurants in Phnom Penh. This one is run by a 48-year-old Phnom Penh native who escaped to Thailand at age 5, then emigrated to Singapore at 8, where she lived for 21 years. She can speak Vietnamese like a native, "I studied it for three months in Singapore. It was easy. Vietnamese is like French, but with all the accents." The last bit is clearly nonsense.

I heard her speak rapid Mandarin to someone on the phone, then fluent Cambodian to an employee. She also knew English, French, Japanese and Russian, she said. That's seven languages altogether. "I have the gift."

Now, she's stuying Thai. "I didn't like Thai people when I was there as a child, but now I love them! I go to Thailand all the time!"

Many of the accent marks on the menu are off, but still legible.



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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), six of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007), Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009) and A Mere Rica (2017), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.