I have an embarrassing language-learning story for your amusement:
Yesterday, the topic of our lesson was learning how to buy things in a store - asking how much something cost, etc. So after we practiced amongst ourselves, the teacher sent us out to actual stores to ask the prices of things.
|Horses Hanging Out in Front of the Hospital|
(This is the second time we've bothered the people of our awesome little town with our attempts at speaking Mongolian. The first time went something like "HI HOW ARE YOU I AM FROM AMERICA WHAT IS YOUR NAME HOW OLD ARE YOU WHAT KIND OF FOOD DO YOU LIKE?" I got to talk to an old man who took my notebook, wrote the word "Ulaanbaatar" in really nice cursive, and pointed at it good-naturedly in response to every question I asked. I still have no idea what we were talking about.)
I was assigned flour and meat. Koty, Jill, and I teamed up and hit the store across the street from the school. They had bags of flour, which I successfully ascertained the price of and wrote in my notebook, and they had everything the other girls were looking for. But they didn't have any meat.
So Koty and I proceeded to a second store, further away from the school. Still no meat. At least that made it less awkward then the first store, where we asked the price of six items and didn't buy anything.
We headed for a store a little further on, outside of which two men were standing, smoking. They worked at the store, and I asked in my stilted Mongolian if they had any meat. They did! Now, I decided to stretch my language skills to the max by asking about specific kinds of meat and how much they cost. I started with mutton.
The word for sheep in Mongolian sounds like "hon." The word for person sounds like "hoon."
Guess which one I used.
Yep, I asked the store clerk how much man-meat cost.
This miscommunication was resolved when I figured out the question he kept asking me was "Whose meat?" and he pinched his own arm and repeated my mispronounced phrase. I drew a sheep, made a "Baaa!" sound, and quickly wrote down the price of mutton.
There was much laughter all around.