“My mother in law hired a bus.” I said this (in Khmer) to a Cambodian friend and her face suddenly changed. She looked something like horrified, I had never seen her make that expression before. I was confused.
Lucky for us, Soeun overheard. He began laughing! Now both I and my friend were confused. We looked at him and waited for him to stop laughing so he could explain.
It turns out I pronounced the word for “hire” incorrectly. Instead of saying “hire” (something like “jool”), I said “chol”. I had actually told my friend that my mother in law had been run over and killed by a bus!
(more language learning fun: Khmer Karaoke and the plethora of pronouns )