Khmer language

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Template:Infobox language Template:Contains Khmer text

Khmer (Template:Lang, Template:IPA-km; or more formally, Template:Lang, Template:IPA-km), or Cambodian, is the language of the Khmer people and the official language of Cambodia. It is the second most widely spoken Austroasiatic language (after Vietnamese), with speakers in the tens of millions. Khmer has been considerably influenced by Sanskrit and Pali, especially in the royal and religious registers, through the vehicles of Hinduism and Buddhism. It is also the earliest recorded and earliest written language of the Mon–Khmer family, predating Mon and by a significant margin Vietnamese.<ref name ="cl">Template:Cite book</ref> The Khmer language has influenced, and also been influenced by, Thai, Lao, Vietnamese and Cham, all of which, due to geographical proximity and long-term cultural contact, form a sprachbund in peninsular Southeast Asia.<ref name ="enfield">Enfield, N.J. (2005). Areal Linguistics and Mainland Southeast Asia</ref>

Khmer is primarily an isolating language. There are no inflections, conjugations or case endings. Instead, particles and auxiliary words are used to indicate grammatical relationships. General word order is subject–verb–object. Most words conform to the typical Mon-Khmer pattern, having a "main" syllable preceded by a minor syllable.

The Khmer language is written with an abugida known in Khmer as អក្សរខ្មែរ (Template:IPA-km). Khmer differs from neighboring languages such as Thai, Lao and Vietnamese in that it is not a tonal language.




Khmer is a member of the Austro-Asiatic language family, the most archaic family in an area that stretches from the Malay Peninsula through Southeast Asia to East India.<ref name=DiffZide>Diffloth, Gerard & Zide, Norman. Austro-Asiatic Languages.</ref> Austro-Asiatic, which also includes Mon, Vietnamese and Munda, has been studied since 1856 and was first proposed as a language family in 1907.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> Despite the amount of research, there is still doubt about the internal relationship of the languages of Austro-Asiatic.<ref name=SidwellNew>Sidwell, Paul (2009a). The Austroasiatic Central Riverine Hypothesis. Keynote address, SEALS, XIX.</ref> Most classifications place Khmer in the eastern branch of a Mon-Khmer sub-grouping.<ref name=ethno/><ref name=Diffloth05>Diffloth, Gérard (2005). "The contribution of linguistic palaeontology and Austroasiatic". in Laurent Sagart, Roger Blench and Alicia Sanchez-Mazas, eds. The Peopling of East Asia: Putting Together Archaeology, Linguistics and Genetics. 77–80. London: Routledge Curzon.</ref> In these classification schemes Khmer's closest genetic relatives are the Bahnaric and Pearic languages.<ref name="Shorto">Shorto, Harry L. edited by Sidwell, Paul, Cooper, Doug and Bauer, Christian (2006). A Mon–Khmer comparative dictionary. Canberra: Australian National University. Pacific Linguistics. ISBN 0-85883-570-3</ref> More recent classifications doubt the validity of the Mon-Khmer sub-grouping and place the Khmer language as its own branch of Austro-Asiatic equidistant from the other 12 branches of the family.<ref name=SidwellNew/>

Geographic Distribution and Dialects

File:Approximate Location of Khmer Dialects.png
Approximate locations where various dialects of Khmer are spoken

Khmer is spoken by approximately 12.6 million people in Cambodia where it is the official language.<ref name=ethno/> It is also a second language for most of the minority groups and indigenous hill tribes there. Additionally one million Khmer native to southern Vietnam and 1.4 million in northeast Thailand speak dialects of Khmer.<ref name=ethno/><ref name=ethnokxm>Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. [1]</ref>

Khmer dialects, although mutually intelligible, are sometimes quite marked. Notable variations are found in speakers from Phnom Penh (which is the capital city), the rural Battambang area, the areas of Northeast Thailand adjacent to Cambodia such as Surin province, the Cardamom Mountains, and in southern Vietnam.<ref name="SIDWELL">Khmer/Cambodian Paul Sidwell. Australian National University. Accessed February 23, 2007.</ref><ref>Template:Cite book</ref><ref name="JoP">Journal of Phonetics 31 (2003). pp 181–201</ref> The dialects form a continuum running roughly north to south. Standard Cambodian Khmer is mutually intelligible with the others but a Khmer Krom speaker from Vietnam, for instance, may have great difficulty communicating with a Khmer native to Sisaket Province in Thailand.

The following is a classification scheme showing the development of the modern Khmer dialects.<ref name="Sidwell2009">Sidwell, Paul (2009). Classifying the Austroasiatic languages: history and state of the art. LINCOM studies in Asian linguistics, 76. Munich: Lincom Europa.</ref><ref>Ferlus, Michel. 1992. Essai de phonétique historique du khmer (Du milieau du primier millénaire de notre ère à l'époque actuelle). Mon–Khmer Studies 2 (6):7-28.</ref>

  • Middle Khmer
    • Cardamom (Western) Khmer
    • Central Khmer
      • Surin (Northern) Khmer
      • Standard Khmer and related dialects (including Khmer Krom)

Standard Khmer, or Central Khmer, the language as taught in schools and used by the media is based on the Battambang dialect spoken throughout the plains of the northwest and central provinces.<ref name="HUFF"/>

Northern Khmer (called Khmer Surin in Khmer) refers to the dialects spoken in the provinces of present-day Northeast Thailand. After the fall of the Khmer Empire in the early 15th century, the Dongrek Mountains served as a natural border leaving the Khmer north of the mountains under the sphere of influence of Lan Xang. The conquests of Cambodia by Naresuan the Great for Ayutthaya furthered the political and economic isolation from Cambodia proper leading to a dialect that developed relatively independently from the midpoint of the Middle Khmer period.<ref name=Bernon>de Bernon, Olivier. "Khmer of Surin: Lexical Remarks". 1988.</ref> This has resulted in a distinct accent influenced by the surrounding tonal languages, Lao and Thai, lexical differences and phonemic differences in both vowels and distribution of consonants. Additionally, syllable-final Template:IPA, which has become silent in other dialects of Khmer, is still pronounced in Northern Khmer. Some linguists classify Northern Khmer as a separate, but closely related language rather than a dialect.<ref name=Thomas>Thomas, David. 1990. "On the 'language' status of Northern Khmer." JLC 9.1:98-106</ref><ref name=SUW>Phonetic variation of final trill and final palatals in Khmer dialects of Thailand Suwilai, Premsrirat; Mahidol University; Mon-Khmer Studies 24:1-26; pg 1</ref>

Western Khmer, also called Cardamom Khmer or Chanthaburi Khmer, spoken by a very small, isolated population in the Cardamom mountain range extending from western Cambodia into eastern Central Thailand, although little studied, is unique in that it maintains a definite system of vocal register that has all but disappeared in other dialects of modern Khmer.<ref name="DiffZide" />

Phnom Penh Khmer is spoken in the capital and surrounding areas. This dialect is characterized by merging or complete elision of syllables, considered by speakers from other regions to be a "relaxed" pronunciation. For instance, "Phnom Penh" will sometimes be shortened to "m'Penh". Another characteristic of Phnom Penh speech is observed in words with an "r" either as an initial consonant or as the second member of a consonant cluster (as in the English word "bread"). The "r", trilled or flapped in other dialects, is either pronounced as an uvular trill or not pronounced at all. This alters the quality of any preceding consonant causing a harder, more emphasized pronunciation. Another unique result is that the syllable is spoken with a low-rising or "dipping" tone much like the "hỏi" tone in Vietnamese. For example, some people pronounce Template:IPA (meaning "fish") as Template:IPA, the "r" is dropped and the vowel begins by dipping much lower in tone than standard speech and then rises, effectively doubling its length. Another example is the word Template:IPA ("study, learn"). It is pronounced Template:IPA, with the "uvular r" and the same intonation described above.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

Khmer Krom or Southern Khmer is spoken by the indigenous Khmer population of the Mekong Delta, formerly controlled by the Khmer Empire but part of Vietnam since 1698. Khmers are persecuted by the Vietnamese government for using their native language and, since the 1950s, have been forced to take Vietnamese names.<ref name=UNPC>Unrepresented Peoples and Nations Organization Khmer Krom Profile Retrieved 19 June 2012</ref> Consequently very little research has been published regarding this dialect. It generally has been influenced by Vietnamese for three centuries and accordingly displays a pronounced accent, tendency toward monosyllablic words and lexical differences from the standard.<ref>Thach, Ngoc Minh. Monosyllablization in Kiengiang Khmer. University of Ho Chi Minh City.</ref>

Historical periodization

A stone carved in Middle Khmer

Linguistic study of the Khmer language divides its history into four periods one of which, the Old Khmer period, is subdivided into pre-Angkorian and Angkorian.<ref name="Sak">Sak-Humphry, Channy. The Syntax of Nouns and Noun Phrases in Dated Pre-Angkorian Inscriptions. Mon Khmer Studies 22: 1-26.</ref> Pre-Angkorian Khmer, the language after its divergence from Proto-Mon–Khmer until the ninth century, is only known from words and phrases in Sanskrit texts of the era. Old Khmer (or Angkorian Khmer) is the language as it was spoken in the Khmer Empire from the 9th century until the weakening of the empire sometime in the 13th century. Old Khmer is attested by many primary sources and has been studied in depth by a few scholars, most notably Saveros Pou, Phillip Jenner and Heinz-Jürgen Pinnow. Following the end of the Khmer Empire the language lost the standardizing influence of being the language of government and accordingly underwent a turbulent period of change in morphology, phonology and lexicon. The language of this transition period, from about the 14th to 18th centuries, is referred to as Middle Khmer and saw borrowing from Thai, Lao and, to a lesser extent, Vietnamese. The changes during this period are so profound that the rules of Modern Khmer can not be applied to correctly understand Old Khmer. The language became recognizable as Modern Khmer, spoken from the 19th century till today.<ref name="Sak" />

The following table shows the conventionally accepted historical stages of Khmer.<ref name="Sidwell2009"/>

File:Choun Nath02.jpg
A wax sculpture of Chuon Nath, the conservator of the modern Khmer language, at the Cambodian Cultural Village
Historical Stages of Khmer
Historical stage Date
Pre- or Proto-Khmer Before 600 CE
Pre-Angkorian Old Khmer 600–800 CE
Angkorian Old Khmer 800 to mid-1300s
Middle Khmer Mid-1300s to 1700s
Modern Khmer 1800–present

Just as modern Khmer was emerging from the transitional period represented by Middle Khmer, Cambodia fell under the influence of French colonialism.<ref name=CBHP>Template:Cite book</ref> In 1887 Cambodia was fully integrated into French Indochina which brought in a French-speaking aristocracy. This led to French becoming the language of higher education and the intellectual class. Many native scholars in the early 20th century, led by a monk named Chuon Nath, resisted the French influence on their language and championed Khmerization, using Khmer roots (and Pali and Sanskrit) to coin new words for modern ideas, instead of French.<ref name=CBHP/> Nath cultivated modern Khmer-language identity and culture, overseeing the translation of the entire Pali Buddhist canon into Khmer and creating the modern Khmer language dictionary that is still in use today, thereby ensuring that Khmer would survive, and indeed flourish, during the French colonial period.<ref name=CBHP/>


Template:Khmer language The phonological system described here is the inventory of sounds of the spoken language, not how they are written in the Khmer alphabet.<ref name="HUFF">Huffman, Franklin. 1970. Cambodian System of Writing and Beginning Reader. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-01314-0</ref>


Labial Dental<ref></ref>/Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Implosive Template:IPA Template:IPA
Nasal Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Liquid Template:IPA Template:IPA
Fricative Template:IPA Template:IPA
Approximant Template:IPA Template:IPA

Khmer is frequently described as having aspirated stops. However, these may be analyzed as consonant clusters, Template:IPA, as infixes can occur between the stop and the aspiration (phem, p⟨an⟩hem), or as non-distinctive phonetic detail in other consonant clusters, such as the khm in Khmer.<ref name=ELL>Template:Cite book</ref><ref name=SOAS/> Template:IPA and Template:IPA are occasional allophones of the implosives.

In addition, the consonants Template:IPA, Template:IPA, Template:IPA and Template:IPA may occasionally occur in recent loan words in the speech of Cambodians familiar with French and other languages. These non-native sounds are not represented in the Khmer script, although combinations of letters otherwise unpronounceable are used to represent them when necessary. In the speech of those who are not bilingual, these sounds are approximated with natively occurring phonemes:

Foreign Sound (IPA) Khmer Representation Khmer Approximation (IPA)
Template:IPA Template:Lang Template:IPA
Template:IPA Template:Lang Template:IPA
Template:IPA Template:Lang Template:IPA or Template:IPA
Template:IPA Template:Lang Template:IPA

Vowel nuclei

Various researchers have proposed slightly different analyses of the vowels. This may be in part because political centralization has not yet been achieved, so standard Khmer does not prevail throughout Cambodia. Additionally, the Cambodian Civil War resulted in massive internal population upheaval. As such, many speakers of even the same community may have different phonological inventories.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Two proposals follow. The first is Huffman's analysis of Standard Khmer, and the second is Wayland's analysis of Battambang Khmer, the dialect upon which the standard is based.

File:Khmer vowel diagram.png
Monophthongs of Standard Khmer<ref name="HUFF"/>
Standard Khmer vowels<ref name="HUFF"/>
Long vowels Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Short vowels Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Long diphthongs Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA ɨə Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Short diphthongs Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Battambang Khmer vowels<ref name=Accoustic>Wayland, Ratree. "An Acoustic Study of Battambang Khmer Vowels." The Mon-Khmer Studies Journal. 28. (1998): 43-62.</ref>
Long vowels Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Short vowels Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Long diphthongs Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Short diphthongs Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Vowels with off glides
Treated as long vowels Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Treated as short vowels Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA

The precise number and the phonetic value of vowel nuclei vary from dialect to dialect. Short and long vowels of equal quality are distinguished solely by duration.

Syllable structure

Khmer words are predominantly either monosyllabic or sesquisyllabic, with stress falling on the final syllable.<ref name="Schiller">Template:Cite web</ref> There are two possible clusters of three consonants at the beginning of syllables, /str skr/<ref name=ppak>Phonetic and Phonological Analysis of Khmer</ref>, and 85 possible two-consonant clusters:

Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Template:IPA Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA-
Template:IPA Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA-
Template:IPA Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA-
Template:IPA Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA-
Template:IPA Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA-
Template:IPA Template:IPA-
Template:IPA Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA-
Template:IPA Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA- Template:IPA-

Syllables begin with one of these consonants or consonant clusters, followed by one of the vowel nuclei. The aspiration in some clusters is allophonic.<ref name=SOAS>Template:Cite book</ref> When the vowel nucleus is short, there has to be a final consonant. Template:IPA can exist in a syllable coda, while Template:IPA and Template:IPA approach Template:IPA and Template:IPA respectively. The stops Template:IPA have no audible release when occurring as syllable finals.

The most common word structure in Khmer is a full syllable as described above, which may be preceded by an unstressed, "minor" syllable that has a consonant-vowel structure of CV-, CrV-, CVN- or CrVN- (N is any nasal in the Khmer inventory). The vowel in these preceding syllables is usually reduced in conversation to Template:IPA, however in careful or formal speech and in television and radio, they are always clearly articulated.

Words with three or more syllables exist, particularly those pertaining to science, the arts, and religion. However, these words are loanwords, usually derived from Pali, Sanskrit, or more recently, French.

Suprasegmental features

Phonation and tone

Khmer once had a phonation distinction in its vowels, which was indicated in writing by choosing between two sets of letters for the preceding consonant according to the historical source of the phonation. However, phonation has been lost in all but the most archaic dialect of Khmer (Western Khmer).<ref name=DiffZide/> For example, Old Khmer distinguished voiced and unvoiced pairs as in Template:IPA vs Template:IPA. The vowels after voiced consonants became breathy voiced and diphthongized: Template:IPA. When consonant voicing was lost, the distinction was maintained by the vowel: Template:IPA, and later the phonation disappeared as well: Template:IPA.<ref name=ELL/>

Although Cambodian dialects are not tonal, the colloquial Phnom Penh dialect has developed a marginal, non-phonemic, tonal contrast (a level versus a peaking tone) to compensate for the elision of Template:IPA.<ref name=ELL/>



Stress in Khmer is non-phonemic (does not distinguish different meanings) and thus is considered to depend entirely on syllable structure. Owing in part to the sesquisyllabic nature of Khmer, syllabic stress is also highly predictable. In native disyllabic words, the first syllable is always a minor syllable and the second syllable is stressed. Loan words and reduplications also tend to follow this pattern:

Template:Lang Template:IPA "type of sarong"
Template:Lang Template:IPA "broom"
Template:Lang Template:IPA "spacious"

In words of more than two syllables, primary stress is always on the final syllable with secondary stress on every second syllable. Thus, in a three-syllable word, the first syllable exhibits secondary stress, while primary stress is on the third syllable:

Template:Lang Template:IPA "gem, jewel, precious stone"
Template:Lang Template:IPA "caretaker of the government"
Template:Lang Template:IPA "Kampuchea"

Compound words of three syllables, however, follow the stress of the constituent words:

Template:Lang Template:IPA "a dry dipping powder of peppers and salt"
Template:Lang Template:IPA "a trap fashioned with a slip knot"
Template:Lang Template:IPA "a kind of cookie" (lit. "bird's nest")

In a four-syllable word, the second syllable carries secondary stress and primary stress is on the fourth syllable:<ref name=ppak>Phonetic and Phonological Analysis of Khmer</ref>

Template:Lang Template:IPA "boundary line"
Template:Lang Template:IPA "physical activity"
Template:Lang Template:IPA "hasty, hastily, angrily" (an example of reduplication)

Words of five or more syllables are exceedingly rare in everyday conversation but do occur in academic, governmental, and religious contexts. These words are all derived from Sanskrit or Pali roots but follow Khmer pronunciation and stress patterns:<ref name=ppak /><ref name=KhDict>Headly, Robert K.; Chhor, Kylin; Lim, Lam Kheng; Kheang, Lim Hak; Chun, Chen. 1977. Cambodian-English Dictionary. Bureau of Special Research in Modern Languages. The Catholic University of America Press. Washington, D.C. ISBN 0-8132-0509-3</ref>

Template:Lang Template:IPA "A name of Indra" (lit. from Sanskrit "having clouds for a vehicle")

As Khmer is primarily an analytic pro-drop language, intonation (non-phonemic pitch variation throughout clauses) oftentimes conveys semantic context. The intonation pattern of a typical Khmer declarative phrase is a steady rise throughout followed by an abrupt drop on the last syllable.<ref name=ppak />

Template:Lang Template:IPA "I don't want it."

Other intonation contours signify a different type of phrase such as the "full doubt" interrogative, similar to "yes-no" questions in English or the exclamatory phrase. Full doubt interrogatives remain fairly even in tone throughout but rise sharply towards the end.

Template:Lang Template:IPA "Do you want to go to Siem Reap?"

Exclamatory phrases follow the typical steadily rising pattern, but rise sharply on the last syllable instead of falling.<ref name=ppak />

Template:Lang Template:IPA "This book is expensive!"



Khmer is generally a subject–verb–object (SVO) language with prepositions.<ref>Huffman, Franklin. 1967. An outline of Cambodian Grammar. PhD thesis, Cornell University.</ref> Although primarily an isolating language, lexical derivation by means of prefixes and infixes is common but not always productive in the modern language.<ref name = "cc">Template:Cite book</ref>

Adjectives and Adverbs

Adjectives, demonstratives and numerals follow the noun they modify. Adverbs likewise follow the verb. Morphologically, adjectives and adverbs are not distinguished with many words often serving either function. Similar to other languages of the region, intensity can be expressed by reduplication.<ref name=msc>Huffman, F. E., Promchan, C., & Lambert, C.-R. T. (1970). Modern spoken Cambodian. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-01315-9</ref>

Template:Lang Template:IPA (girl pretty that) = that pretty girl
Template:Lang Template:IPA (girl pretty pretty) = a very pretty girl

As Khmer sentences rarely use a copula, adjectives are also employed as verbs. Comparatives are formed by the use of ciəng: "A X ciəng B" (A is more X than B). The most common way to express the idea of superlatives is the construction "A X ciəng kee" (A is X-est of all).<ref name=msc/>


The noun has no grammatical gender or singular/plural distinction and is uninflected. Technically there are no articles, but indefiniteness is often expressed by the word for "one" following the noun. Plurality can be marked by postnominal particles, numerals, or reduplicating the adjective, which, although similar to intensification, is usually not ambiguous due to context.<ref name=msc/>

Template:Lang Template:IPA (dog large) = large dog

Template:Lang Template:IPA (dog large large) = a very large dog or large dogs

Template:Lang Template:IPA (dog large very) = very large dog

Template:Lang Template:IPA (dog two) = two dogs

Classifying particles for use between numerals and nouns exist although are not always obligatory as in, for example, Thai. Pronouns are subject to a complicated system of social register, the choice of pronoun depending on the perceived relationships between speaker, audience and referent (see Social registers below). Kinship terms, nicknames and proper names are often used as pronouns (including for the first person) among intimates. Frequently, subject pronouns are dropped in colloquial conversation.<ref name=msc/>


As is typical of most East Asian languages,<ref>East and Southeast Asian Languages: A First Look at Oxford University Press Online</ref> the verb does not inflect at all; tense and aspect can be shown by particles and adverbs or understood by context. Most commonly, time words such as "yesterday", "earlier", "tomorrow", indicate tense when not inferrable from context. There is no participle form. The gerund is formed by using Template:IPA: "A Template:IPA V" (A is in the process of V). Serial verb construction is quite common. Negation is achieved by putting Template:IPA before them and Template:IPA at the end of the sentence or clause. In normal speech verbs can also be negated without the need for an ending particle by putting Template:IPA before them.<ref name=msc/>

Template:Lang Template:IPA – I believe

Template:Lang Template:IPA – I don't believe

Template:Lang Template:IPA – I don't believe



The numbers<ref name = "cc"/> are:

0 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
1 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
2 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
3 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
4 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
5 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
6 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
7 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA (also Template:IPA)
8 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
9 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
10 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
100 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
1,000 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
10,000 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
100,000 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA
1,000,000 Template:Lang Template:Lang (Template:Transl) Template:IPA

Social registers

Khmer employs a system of registers in which the speaker must always be conscious of the social status of the person spoken to. The different registers, which include those used for common speech, polite speech, speaking to or about royals and speaking to or about monks, employ alternate verbs, names of body parts and pronouns. This results in what appears to foreigners as separate languages and, in fact, isolated villagers often are unsure how to speak with royals and royals raised completely within the court do not feel comfortable speaking the common register. As an example, the word for "to eat" used between intimates or in reference to animals is Template:IPA. Used in polite reference to commoners, it's Template:IPA. When used of those of higher social status, it's Template:IPA or Template:IPA. For monks the word is Template:IPA and for royals, Template:IPA.<ref name ="cl"/> Another result is that the pronominal system is complex and full of honorific variations, just a few of which are shown in the table below.<ref name=KhDict/>

Situational usage "I, me" IPA "you" IPA "he, she, it" IPA
Intimate or addressing an inferior អញ់ /Template:IPA/ ឯង /Template:IPA/ វា /Template:IPA/
neutral ខ្ញុំ /Template:IPA/ អ្នក /Template:IPA/ គេ /Template:IPA/
Formal យើងខ្ញុំ or
(or kinship term, title or rank)
/Template:IPA/ គាត់ /Template:IPA/
Layperson to/about Buddhist clergy ខ្ញុំព្រះករុណា /Template:IPA/ ព្រះតេជព្រះគុណ /Template:IPA/ ព្រអង្គ /Template:IPA/
Buddhist clergy to layperson អាត្មា or
ញ៉ូមស្រី (to female)
ញ៉ូមប្រុស (to male)
ឧបាសក់ (to male)
ឧបាសិកា (to female)
when addressing royalty ខ្ញុំព្រះបាទអម្ចាស់ or ទូលបង្គុំ (male), ខ្ញុំម្ចាស់ (female) /Template:IPA/ ព្រះករុណា /Template:IPA/ ទ្រង់ /Template:IPA/

Writing system


File:Be Cambodian Embassy 03.jpg
An example of modern Khmer script at the Cambodian Embassy in Berlin

Khmer is written with the Khmer script, an abugida developed from the Pallava script of India before the 7th century when the first known inscription appeared.<ref name="OMNI">Khmer Alphabet at</ref> Written left-to-right with vowel signs that can be placed after, before, above or below the consonant they follow, the Khmer script is similar in appearance and usage to Thai and Lao, both of which were based on the Khmer system. The Khmer script is also distantly related to the Mon script, the ancestor of the modern Burmese script.<ref name="OMNI"/> Khmer numerals, which were inherited from Indian numerals, are used more widely than Hindu-Arabic numerals. Within Cambodia, literacy in the Khmer alphabet is estimated at 77.6%.<ref name=UNCel>United Nations in Cambodia "Celebration of International Literacy Day, 2011"</ref>

Consonant symbols in Khmer are divided into two groups, or series. The first series carries the inherent vowel /Template:IPA/ while the second series carries the inherent vowel /Template:IPA/. The Khmer names of the series, /Template:IPA/ ("voiceless") and /Template:IPA/ ("voiced"), respectively, indicate that the second series consonants were used to represent the voiced phonemes of Old Khmer. As the voicing of stops was lost, however, the contrast shifted to the phonation of the attached vowels which, in turn, evolved into a simple difference of vowel quality, oftentimes by diphthongization.<ref name=ELL/> This process has resulted in the Khmer alphabet having two symbols for most consonant phonemes and each vowel symbol having two possible readings, depending on the series of the initial consonant:<ref name="HUFF"/>

ត + ា = តា Template:IPA "grandfather"
ទ + ា = ទា Template:IPA "duck"

See also

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References and notes


Further reading

  • Ferlus, Michel. 1992. Essai de phonétique historique du khmer (Du milieu du premier millénaire de notre ère à l'époque actuelle)", Mon–Khmer Studies XXI: 57-89)
  • Headley, Robert and others. 1977. Cambodian-English Dictionary. Washington, Catholic University Press. ISBN 0-8132-0509-3
  • Huffman, F. E., Promchan, C., & Lambert, C.-R. T. (1970). Modern spoken Cambodian. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-01315-9
  • Huffman, F. E., Lambert, C.-R. T., & Im Proum. (1970). Cambodian system of writing and beginning reader with drills and glossary. Yale linguistic series. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-01199-7
  • Jacob, Judith. 1974. A Concise Cambodian-English Dictionary. London, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-713574-9
  • Jacob, J. M. (1996). The traditional literature of Cambodia: a preliminary guide. London oriental series, v. 40. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-713612-5
  • Jacob, J. M., & Smyth, D. (1993). Cambodian linguistics, literature and history: collected articles. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. ISBN 0-7286-0218-0
  • Keesee, A. P. K. (1996). An English-spoken Khmer dictionary: with romanized writing system, usage, and indioms, and notes on Khmer speech and grammar. London: Kegan Paul International. ISBN 0-7103-0514-1
  • Meechan, M. (1992). Register in Khmer the laryngeal specification of pharyngeal expansion. Ottawa: National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada. ISBN 0-315-75016-2
  • Sak-Humphry, C. (2002). Communicating in Khmer: an interactive intermediate level Khmer course. Manoa, Hawai'i: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, School of Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Studies, University of Hawai'i at Manoa. OCLC: 56840636
  • Smyth, D. (1995). Colloquial Cambodian: a complete language course. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-10006-2
  • Stewart, F., & May, S. (2004). In the shadow of Angkor: contemporary writing from Cambodia. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 0-8248-2849-6
  • Tonkin, D. (1991). The Cambodian alphabet: how to write the Khmer language. Bangkok: Trasvin Publications. ISBN 974-88670-2-1

External links

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