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Learn How To Speak and Write Cambodian: An Introduction To The Khmer Language: Numbers and Letters


Cambodian Khmer People

Book ka Make (Father in Law) and Mai ka Make (Mother in Law) staying cool in the heat! It's always Hot in Cambodia!

Book ka Make (Father in Law) and Mai ka Make (Mother in Law) staying cool in the heat! It's always Hot in Cambodia!

Learn Another Language!

Origins and History of the Khmer Language

The Cambodian language, officially called the language of Khmer (pronounced as one word like "Come Here", without the H; "ComeEar", or "ComeEye", depending on region), is a very old language.

It has it's roots from the Brahman or Brahmi system of writing, a character-based language dating back to India in Ancient Times. Proof of this is in the writings within the ancient temples of Angkor Wat.

This article is designed as an introductory tool in understanding the Khmer Alphabet and Sentence Structure while writing and practicing the language. Emphasis will also be placed on Pronunciation, which is very difficult, as many of the Khmer sounds are not native to Latin-Language speaking people (French, English, Spanish, etc.).

Cambodian Khmer Sub-Consonants: Learn To Draw Write Khmer Characters

Cambodian Khmer Sub-Consonants

Cambodian Khmer Sub-Consonants

Speaking Khmer is not as hard as it looks, but I have to admit that, reading and writing it is not as easy. One of the major confusing elements of looking at Cambodian characters is that there are no spaces between the words. Although this appears to be overwhelming, it's not as bad as you think. See, when you're able to decipher the sounds for each Khmer letter then you will naturally recognize where sentences begin and end.

One important thing to point out is that the Khmer alphabet does not translate the same as Latin languages do to each other; there is no equivalent for each letter in Khmer to the English alphabet. Instead, the Khmer alphabet is a phonetic alphabet, that is, a group of sounds that have meaning and change depending on implied accents and word structure. As is the case in learning any new language, immersion and practice with native speakers is probably the best way to become competent in speaking, writing, and reading Khmer.

Before we dive into the alphabet, I'd like to mention a few interesting facts and notable points of interest about the Cambodian/Khmer alphabet and language. The first point that I would like to make is that the written language is almost entirely phonetic. That's good for us who are trying to learn it because that means that there's little change in the sounds once we learn the basic alphabet. That concept offers a level of consistency.

There are some major differences between Khmer and English. In Khmer adjectives follow the noun. In English we would say "pretty girl". In Cambodian it is just the opposite: "girl pretty". Another big distinction which makes Cambodian easier to read, write, and speak, is the fact that there are no verb conjugations. Once you become advanced you'll realize that there ways to classify tenses but to be honest, it is only used when writing formally and rarely used when spoken colloquially.

Here’s another rule that will help you in simplifying how to learn to speak, read and write Cambodian: there are no articles such as "a", "and", and "the", etc. Another interesting element within the Cambodian language is that there is no specific verb "to be" as there is in most of the Latin languages. Cambodians simply say, “She Pretty” instead of “She Is Pretty”. Hopefully knowing some of these facts about the Cambodian language will make you more eager to learn it and make it easier during the process.

Google Maps: Cambodia

Cambodian Khmer Vowels

Since there are no charts like this available on the web, I drew the vowels myself!

Since there are no charts like this available on the web, I drew the vowels myself!

Learn About A Traditional Khmer Wedding with Photos!

  • Traditional Cambodian (Khmer) Wedding Ceremonies
    This is the story of my traditional Khmer (Cambodian) wedding that took place in the spring of 2008. We combined Khmer traditions with American traditions (and even some Korean ones) and had a wonderful wedding!

Types of Vowels

Perhaps the hardest part about learning how to speak Cambodian is pronunciation. There are many sounds that we Westerners have never been exposed to both in listening as well as speaking. It will take practice and most likely you will always have a slight accent compared to a native speaker. When you can speak Cambodian fluently, however, you'll notice that native speakers will appreciate you trying and will overlook your accent. Many will try to help you improve on your pronunciation. You will feel very proud knowing that you are appreciated by people who speak a language from the other side of the world!

The vowels within the Cambodian alphabet can be short or long and have more than one sound depending on how it is used. The long vowels tend to be dragged out while short vowels are quickly cut off as they are spoken. Unfortunately for us, many of these sounds are not represented in any of the sounds of the English language. There are simple vowels and complex vowels, as well as consonant combination vowels. If you check the chart below you will see simple vowels (a single character) and complex vowels (combination of 2 or more characters). Consonant Combination Vowels are just that; a combination of a consonant and vowel.

I spent a little bit of money on Amazon looking for the best book related to this topic. I have to tell you that there are few books out there, and even fewer that are useful resources on learning how to speak Khmer. What I can say, is after reviewing many books and workbooks, the best I have found so far is actually written by a Non-Cambodian American, Richard K. Gilbert. His book, Cambodian For Beginners is relatively easy to use if you put the time and effort into learning the language. You should definitely get the companion CD's so that you can hear a native speaker pronounce the sounds of the language. His suggestions through transliteration of Khmer pronunciations is untouchable! I highly suggest that you purchase this book if you are serious about learning Khmer, step by step in an organized fashion.

Independent Cambodian Khmer Vowels

Independent Vowels

There are an additional 11 more vowel symbols within the Khmer alphabet. Independent vowels are different then regular vowels in that they stand alone and do not need consonant accompaniment. Below is a chart which I drew to show you these 11 independent vowels:

Khmer Cambodian Punctuation

Books On Cambodia

Khmer Numbers 1-10

Want To Learn More About Cambodia?

Learn Khmer Cambodian Now! Start Here!

© 2011 JS Matthew


Андрей Третьяков on May 15, 2016:

Hi! I need help with the Khmer script of the 19-th century. If anyone could help, please get in touch with me via the e-mail inscriptor@creounity.com

Thanks a lot in advance!

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on April 28, 2014:

Hello anna and thanks for clarifying that information. I deleted your first comment so no worries about the spelling errors. I appreciate your comment!


anna on April 27, 2014:

Apologies for the typos in previous comment. I meant to type there is indeed a verb TO BE. It is KU JEA. Also there are 2 words for AND. They are HAOY or NUNG. Great article.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on March 08, 2014:

Thank you Liz. I will contact you regarding your offer.


Liz on February 19, 2014:

Hi J.S.

We are currently seeking an expatriate Khmer interpreter at the International Committee of the Red Cross. If you are interested, you can contact me at lharris@icrc.org and I can explain further...

Adriana on January 30, 2014:

Buna treaba Learn How To Speak and Write Cambodian: An Introduction To The Khmer Language: Numbers and Letters! Super site: ora exacta.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 20, 2013:

Hello kayla. I hope this can help you learn Khmer Cambodian! Thanks for stopping by!


kayla on December 08, 2012:

I have always wanted to speak cambodian.

Sonia on October 30, 2012:

Dear JS, thank you ++++ for your support. So far we are doing well with committed students with different profiles coming to us, from complete beginners to more advanced students who want to speed up their understanding of Khmer and listening skills. Along with the Khmer language, comes the culture, as our teachers tells stories related to the daily life in Cambodia (Beginner level) to more complex topics (at noon and 6pm every day, in both Intermediate and Advanced levels, the teachers would comment the headlines in one of the daily Khmer newspapers - very interesting).

We look forward to showing you what we do when you next come to PP. All friends of the Khmer language and of Cambodia are most welcome!

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on October 28, 2012:

Hello Sonia! I checked out your site and I have added a link to your YouTube video as well as your site. You are doing a wonderful thing there and I am happy to share it in this Hub! Thanks.


Sonia on October 27, 2012:

Thank you for your great article. Very interesting. We actually started a new school to teach Khmer to Foreigners a couple of months ago. It is called LINK, Language Institute of Natural Khmer, and we use a method based on listening and understanding. It helps a lot in hearing well the sounds, and then speaking Khmer correctly. We have now three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. All newcomers get a free our trial class, to see if they like the method. To all interested, please do come to visit us (Sovannaphumi School, Street 200 in PP) so we can talk about all aspects of learning Khmer and compare our experiences, or go to our website www.naturalkhmer.com

Looking forward to hearing from you, and, again, well done for your great article!

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on September 18, 2012:

I have to agree with you nurul that speaking is easier than reading and writing. I don't have much trouble drawing the characters but being able to memorize them, what they mean and how they sound is difficult! It's a work in progress. I'll check out your food blog and feel free to check out my Cambodian Khmer Recipes: https://hubpages.com/food/Cambodian-Khmer-Southeas...

I appreciate your comment and glad you found this useful. Thanks!


nurul on September 17, 2012:

Very useful page. Thank you!! I find learning to read and write much harder than speaking. My spoken Khmer is still less than basic after 4 months here. And my reading and writing is worse. But I love the language as well as the people here and it is well worth the effort to learn!

I have a food blog:


Stop by if you're interested!

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 21, 2012:

Hello again Dahlia Flower! I appreciate all your comments! I always wanted to study linguistics and become a professional interpreter. Maybe it's not to late! Thank you for reading and leaving insightful comments on my Hubs! I really appreciate it!


Dahlia Flower from Canada on February 21, 2012:

This is such an interesting hub. I took a couple courses in linguistics way back. It really interests me and I wish I'd started at a younger age.

You have a lovely wife there.

Now I must read on...to find out what you were doing in Cambodia. I saw a title which might be the one to read.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 12, 2012:

Thank you sunbun143! I worked hard to put this together so I really appreciate your comment! I speak (with a bad accent) enough to get by but I understand more than I can say. I always love going to my wife's friend's parties and they talk about me not knowing that I understand! It is funny when I respond back with something witty!

I am lucky because I am close to my in-laws and they speak Khmer exclusively, although they do understand English. They are "old school". For the record, I can draw the characters but the only word I can write from memory is "khnom" (me, I, myself). You're welcome for the encouragement and I look forward to sharing more in the future.

I am in the process of putting all my recipes into one article and I linked your Sour Soup recipe to it. I am not sure when I will publish but I will let you know! Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate all your comments!


sunbun143 from Los Angeles, CA on February 12, 2012:

Wow this is a comprehensive and well-researched article. I have a feeling you speak the language better than I do since my knowledge and pronuciation is very basic and I do not know how to read or write it. I can communicate with my family in Khmer but that's it. Bravo to you for learning your wife's language! And thank you for encouraging me and linking to my hubs!

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 17, 2012:

Thanks alocsin! You are right that it is not a tonal language. It does change from region to region, but being there is only one dialect and Cambodia a very small place, most speakers have no problem with understanding each other. The funny thing is that in Khmer, they often use the "rolling R" similar to Spanish as in "Carro" I have been told that "whites" (like myself!) and Chinese minorities have the worst accents! It is very different from most Asian languages as a whole, yet very similar to Thai. I guess it is complicated! Thanks for commenting and voting up. I appreciate it. I am looking forward looking into the program you mentioned in your Hub: https://hubpages.com/education/Best-Language-Learn... Thanks for stopping by!


Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 17, 2012:

I've read that most of the language is not tonal, unlike many of the languages of Southest Asia. Although the Phnom Penh language has developed a minor tone to make up for the gliding r. Voting this Up and Interesting.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on December 01, 2011:

Hello Mark!

You are very lucky to be in Srok Khmer! I agree that it is very hard to learn. I guess exposure and practice are the only ways to become proficient. I am not yet able to carry on full conversation but I usually know what is being talked about. The Huffman book is the first I bought. It was used and expensive, not to mention quite large! I found it a bit difficult but I do use it as a reference. You have accomplished quite a bit! It is awesome that you are so gifted in language. Language is a foundation for peace. I appreciate your comment and will check out your Hubs! Thanks for stopping by!


markhigham from Phnom Penh, Cambodia on November 28, 2011:

Hello. This Mark Higham, and you are following me. As you know, I live in Phnom Penh. Wife is Khmer too. Of course, I speak Khmer. And the vowels are extremely difficult. But as long as the Khmers use the word "chaba" then they are saying that you are speaking clearly and they can understand you. I can hold conversations in Khmer but I'm not fluent yet. I became fluent in Korean after only a year, but I hope to reach fluency in Khmer in maybe about another year. But I am going to get a Ph.D. in English Literature at National University of Singapore in 2012. I found a really good book to learn Khmer with called Cambodian System of Writing and Beginning Reader by Franklin E. Huffman. Sometimes it gets a little technical like he wants you to understand absolutely everything about the language, but you can ignore this and the book then teaches you well and the readings are great because you get to improve vocabulary and being able to read and write in a language will help not to try to translate in your head which is always always the worst way to begin learning a language. Next I plan to learn Chinese as I took a semester of it in college and I already know about 600 characters and I really love learning languages. Nice to meet you and hope you will enjoy my stuff even as enjoy yours. Cheers!

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on November 12, 2011:

writingfrosh it is similar. So is Thai, because they all come from ancient Sanskrit which has its roots in India. Glad you could relate! Thanks for the comment!


writingfrosh from Philippines on November 12, 2011:

Interesting hub! Reminds me of the preHispanic alphabet of the Philippines - the Alibata.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on November 01, 2011:

It's all goooooodddd Bharat! It's all Good.


Bharat Thapa from NEW DELHI on November 01, 2011:

@JS thankkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkssss (it may look weird when a grown man does this but it's okay. =) )

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on November 01, 2011:

Bharat I appreciate all your comments and have enjoyed talking with you! I wish you all the luck and success in your Language adventures!


Bharat Thapa from NEW DELHI on October 30, 2011:



Same with me, i am also trying to learn spanish by myself and i am finding it little hard right now because of it's complex grammer (Only present tense grammer is easy) It's such a beautiful language that i wouldn't mind giving it my next 10years, if i have to give.

Mastering a language has always been my target and always looked towards the positive side.

I know native fluency is almost impossible but i hope my dedication to it(this is the hardest part) will bring me close enough to the native fluency or make me proficient enough to understand it and speak it at least.

Even if i get close to the kind of english i speak, i'll be more than happy.

By the way thanks for being nice and you have a wonderful night.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on October 30, 2011:

@Bharatthapa: I would love to master Khmer but I don't have a proper teacher at the moment. I want to learn when I go to Cambodia. I can speak pretty fluently but my writing needs a lot of work. I think that over time I will continue to develop my writing and reading skills, I am just not in an environment that encourages it right now because no one around me writes in Khmer that often, although they all speak it most of the time. Thanks for stopping by!


Bharat Thapa from NEW DELHI on October 30, 2011:

Beautiful but just one question when you guys start learning these languages do you even think of mastering it?

Or just learn it to have very basic conversation?

plinka from Budapest, Hungary on October 29, 2011:

Hi Chanroth, thanks for the useful info. Next week I'm starting a Chinese course, so Khmer language should wait a little.:-)

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on October 29, 2011:

Thanks Kimoy Srey Chan! I appreciate the links and clarification. As always, thanks for your comment!

Pu JSMatthew~

chanroth from California, USA on October 29, 2011:

@ plinka, you don't need to go to Cambodia to practice the language. If you know someone that is Cambodian they can teach you some few words or you can go search it online. Here is a website that can help you and uncle matt.



Note that Khmer language influence by a Sanskrit and Pali which is an Indoy-Aryan Language...

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on September 28, 2011:

Hello plinka! I have yet to got to Cambodia but I plan on travelling there in a couple years. It is about $1500.00 USD just for the plane ticket and I have a family of 5! I would consider myself an intermediate-beginner. My wife speaks Khmer and I learn a lot from her, her friends and family. I can hold a conversation but I understand more than I can speak. I am told that I have a horrible accent lol! Thanks for asking. I appreciate your comment!


plinka from Budapest, Hungary on September 28, 2011:

Do you regularly go to Cambodia to practice the language? At what level do you speak it? I mean can you talk to locals for example when you go there or even speak about more difficult subjects?

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on September 02, 2011:

Thanks for the comment Impostora! I appreciate it!


Dust from Anaheim, Ca on September 02, 2011:

Excellent hub J.S.M. Thanks for sharing it with us.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on August 30, 2011:

@sortapundit: Pronunciation is very difficult for me too! It's a lot of strange sounds we are not used to. I appreciate your comment!


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on August 30, 2011:

@Chan: That's exactly what I was saying! I have to be very careful! My in-laws get a kick out of it all but they are very supportive. Their English is very limited as well as my Khmer, but they speak to me mostly in Khmer. You guys would have a riot listening to me try to speak! My accent is so bad!

Pu JSMatthew~

sortapundit from Copenhagen on August 30, 2011:

An excellent hub, J.S. Pronunciation has been the biggest stumbling block for me in trying to learn Thai and Mongolian, and it's always useful to devote a little time to talking about getting your head around the sounds. Keep up the fine work :)

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on August 24, 2011:

Thanks for the correction Chan. Before you commented back I showed my wife and she said the same thing! I am embarrassed lol. Muk khnom gaw-home (my face is red!) I am still learning! I appreciate your help. I think she does switch words sometimes because it doesn't always make sense what she says! There are many words that sound the same especially "help" and "sex" Chu-ey and Choy. I had a lot of trouble with that! One time I asked my Ming if I could help her and she gave me a weird look. My wife corrected me and I felt stupid. lol

Awkon Kmouy srey!

Pu Matt! haha

chanroth from California, USA on August 24, 2011:

Hi Uncle Matt, you say wrong...not loak sok sabay G-tay? I am a girl and young, I can be the age of your niece, you should say, kmouy sok sabai theat te? lol...loak (louk) should be used for men only about your age. Your wife is very funny, have she ever switch khmer term so you don't understand it? Cambodian have many words but mean the same. lol...it would be very funny if she did that to trick your mind and think the word mean something else when it mean the same thing. lol...I hope your getting better with your study in Khmer. Sok sabai pu Matt! :)

Kmouy srey,


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on August 24, 2011:

Hi Chan! Loak Sok Sabay G-tay? I think it's funny too. There's not much she can say anymore without me having an idea about what she is talking about-especially because I learned the slang before the formal! I have heard from many that English is hard for Khmer to learn because of the tenses and plurals, of which there are none in Khmer. I found Spanish to be relatively easy because it is spoken exactly how it is spelled, but then again, I have the advantage because I already speak English as a native and the sounds are similar. I can't imagine trying to learn Latin languages after growing up speaking Khmer. You should be very proud of the progress you have made! I am not familiar with Pepe Aguilar. I'll have to check him out.

Phu JSMatthew~

chanroth from California, USA on August 24, 2011:

@uncle Matt. LOL....I just have to laugh at that comment you made about your wife. This might have been the opposite to what she say to push you to keep studying because a lot give up. Cambodian is a very hard language to learn believe it or not but for us Cambodian who speak khmer as their native (first) language find English much HARDER! I give that thumbs up to your wife! I'm learning Spanish and I think its getting a bit harder....than English...we find other language difficult because we never knew or study their language. ^_^ My favorite Spanish singer now is pepe aguilar and have no idea what he's talking about. LOL...

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on August 24, 2011:

@breete01: I totally agree! Thanks for the comment.


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on August 24, 2011:

@homesteadbound: It's not easy but I bet there are harder languages to learn. At first my wife didn't want me to learn because she didn't want me to always know everything she was saying! That just made me work harder! Thanks for the comment!


breete01 from Huntington, IN on August 24, 2011:

I think anything can be learned with hard work. Good luck!

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on August 24, 2011:

Looks like a hard language to learn. At least you are able to practice the pronunciations with your wife. She must me flattered that you are doing this since having met her.

rjsadowski on August 24, 2011:

At least you had a sufficient reason to try to learn Cambodian. So far, I have not, but my daughter is studying Japanese.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on August 24, 2011:

Hello rjsadowski! Like you, I always studied Latin-based languages like French and Spanish. I always wanted to take Latin itself. Learning the Khmer language is totally different for me but I enjoy it very much! Thanks for the read and comment!


rjsadowski on August 24, 2011:

Great article. You really made some interesting points. I enjoy studying foreign languages, particularly their grammar. So far I have limited myself to languages which use the Latin alphabet except for Greek. I have dabbled with Latin, Greek, German, Hungarian, Finnish and even Basque, but I enjoy learning about all languages.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on August 08, 2011:

It's pretty cool to look at tamarindcandy! I agree!


tamarindcandy on August 08, 2011:

I love their script.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on August 08, 2011:

Thanks for re-commenting JT! It is difficult but if you got the book I mentioned with the accompanying CD's it is easier than you think. I spent over $200.00 on books until I found "Cambodian For Beginners". It really is a great book. Like yourself, I enjoy observing other languages. It is very interesting! Thanks for coming back by!


Jt Walters on August 08, 2011:

Hi J.S. Matthew,

Now that you mention it the language does look close to Tibetan languages as well. I am just a casual observer of these languages. It is just something I noticed.

I enjoyed the article but still find Cambodian a bit of a challenge to take up studying.

All My Best-


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on August 08, 2011:

Hello JT Walters! Thai, Cambodian, Laos and a few other languages in South East Asia do have similarities in their writings as most of the come from Brahman influence. This is especially true of numbers. Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comment.


JT Walters from Florida on August 08, 2011:

That is the first thing I saw when I reviewed this hub is that Khmer seems rather close to Thai languages. This is a very infomrative hub and I enjoyed reading it.


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on August 08, 2011:

Thank you Amy Ka! You are the fourth Cambodian person I have met on HubPages! I enjoy learning the language very much. I can't wait to visit Srok Khmer in the future! Thanks for your comment. Did you see the Hub I wrote about Cambodia? My wife took a lot of pictures there: https://hubpages.com/travel/Cambodia-Srok-Khmer...

Thanks for commenting! I am so pleased to meet you!


Amy Ka from Phnom Penh on August 07, 2011:

Hi Matthew,

I like the way you explain about how to speak khmer language. I am Cambodian who live and work in Phnom Penh.

A few friends of mine who are foreigners they learn to speak Khmer in 3 to 6 months and I am so proud to say Cambodian language is not easy to learn when you practice with local everyday. But writing is a bit difficult to start though.

Thanks for the article about Cambodian language here.


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 29, 2011:

Chanroth, That reminds me of Catholic School! Chum reap sua, kimoy srais! There is a Temple near my house and there's a monk who teaches sor say aht sor Khmer. I wish I could find the time to study with him because I need the discipline. I hear that he is nice though. Thanks for stopping by and it was fun chatting with you lately. Keep in touch!


chanroth from California, USA on July 29, 2011:

Chum reap sua louk pu JSMathhew, ter pu sok sabai del te? pu ban sor say la'or klang nas. som sor ser! :) I remember going to Cambodian school and my teacher say, "remember all 56 letter in the alphabet, coming back and don't remember you'll stand on one feet for one hour." The punishment was cruel but it get student to study. haha...I always get hit and the naughty one in class. I was studying with a Buddhist monk so its a bit tough with them. Great hub! I'll give you a vote up and useful!

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 27, 2011:

Chum-re upsua, ohn prous thearaneo!

Haha! That was fun! There are many things that you can write about. Here is a link to give you an idea of what you can and can't write about on HubPages: https://hubpages.com/learningcenter/2-2-your-first...

I am so happy to meet you and look forward to staying in touch with you. Good luck and get writing!


thearaneo on July 25, 2011:

Dear Bong Bros J.S.Matthew

My english is limited and my writing is poor. I don't know what topic I should post? Can I post about computer technic? If can I'll try soon :)

I saw your profile your wife is Cambodian that why u can speak n read Khmer verywell.



JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 21, 2011:

thearaneo I was just as surprised when you answered my question about anyone on HP speaking Khmer! You answered it within 5 minutes of my posting it and I was really surprised! Your English is obviously very good. Why don't you consider writing Hubs in English? I have been struggling with Khmer now for about 3 years. I am getting better at noticing similar sounds used in different context and meanings. I am so glad to have met you on HubPages and I hope that you publish a Hub so I can read it! Thanks for the comment.


thearaneo on July 20, 2011:

I feel very surprising to read this Hub as many people are starting to understad Khmer. Actually I tell u that Khmer is diffcult to learn. Many words we pronounce the same but difference meaning and many words is same meaning but difference pronounce. As I heard all my foreign teachers form England told me "Oh I'm dizzy with Khmer language". Next about Khmer & Thai alphabet are nearly similar. Thai said Khmer copy from them and Khmer said Thai copy from Khmer who could decide???

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 07, 2011:

Thank you mariasial! I am now following you!


maria sial from united kingdom on July 07, 2011:

Good informative article Mathew

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 06, 2011:

Thanks ponygirl64! Yes, it is difficult but possible! It is definitely cool to look at the letters. Very exotic. Thanks for the comment!


ponygirl64 on July 05, 2011:

Interesting article. Written language looks difficult to learn. However the characters have a beautiful flow to them.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 04, 2011:

Hello DentalHelper84! What is your native language? I could not tell by your writing that you are new at English! Kudos to you and thanks for the comment!


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 03, 2011:

I agree b. Malin, the Khmer alphabet is definitely an art form. I had to practice it many times to be able to produce what I consider mediocre results. I am always working on making the characters straight. My wife took almost all of the pictures so I give credit to her. I hope that you follow my Hubs and I am glad to follow you! Thanks for stopping by.


b. Malin on July 03, 2011:

A very Interesting and Informative Hub J.S. Matthew, and the Khmer Alphabet looks like an art form...Wonderful pictures as well. I look forward to following your Hubs and a big Thank You for honoring me as well.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on June 27, 2011:

Spirit Whisperer, I appreciate your comment! I am glad that you chose to read this article. I tried to make it as simple as possible while also being thorough. I hope that you buy the book through my article! Make sure you also get the accompanying CD's to go with it so that you can hear the sounds of the language. It really is a great book!

I am planning to visit in the next few years. Right now I have 3 teens at home and can not afford to bring the whole family! As for the landmines, the tourist areas are pretty safe and I rarely hear of tourists dying as a result. Thanks for the comment and vote!


Xavier Nathan from Isle of Man on June 27, 2011:

This is an excellent introduction to Khmer. I was initially reluctant to read it as I felt that I would not be interested. I decided to over rule my old prejudices that make me decide what I think would or would not be interesting and I am very glad I did. Your hub has actually tempted me to buy the book and have a crack at it and who knows it may even encourage to go visit the country though the land mines are a definite worry.

Thank you. Voted up.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on June 20, 2011:

Yes alocsin, it is easier to learn sounds in Khmer than in other Asiatic languages. The sounds related to the character formation are pretty relative; the tones only change in a colloquial setting, generally while using slang. Traditional Khmer is very consistent.

I agree that the writing is beautiful and I hope that I can get better with practice. I have a problem with writing straight across a page without lines! Everything takes time!

Thanks for continuing the conversation! I always appreciate your comments.


Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on June 20, 2011:

It not being a tonal language makes it slightly easier to learn than the tonal Asian languages. The writing, as you say, just takes practice but it is quite beautiful.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on June 20, 2011:

Thanks alocsin! I appreciate the comment and the questions.

As far as the language itself, Khmer was influenced by Chinese, Thai, English, and French; possibly others as well. In a region such as this part of South East Asia, close cultures often imitate and influence each other, particularly near the borders.

It is not a tonal language, but has had influence from Hindi and the Hindu language as well particularly when you get into Buddhist religion, as many of the ancient texts were translated to suit each region.

Thanks for stopping by! You added quality to my Hub!


Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on June 20, 2011:

Great introduction to a language I've always been curious about. You told us about the origins of the writing system. But what about the language itself? Is it related to Chinese or Hindu? Is it tonal?

Voting this Up and Useful.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on June 12, 2011:

It's not easy Alladream74! But like all things, patience and practice will make improvement. I figure, I have the rest of my life to learn it, so I do it at a slow pace. It was very intimidating at first but the more you practice the easier it becomes. It is definitely an art, but I am not an artistic person like yourself! Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your comments!


Victor Mavedzenge from Oakland, California on June 12, 2011:

An interesting hub.It looks like a hard language to learn with all the characters and such.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on June 10, 2011:

@Paul Kuehn: Thanks for stopping by! I have been learning Khmer since I met my wife about 3 years ago. I am self-taught because I can't really find someone who can teach it. My wife can read and write Khmer but she has no interest in teaching it!

I rely mostly on books and I have a few CD's that help with pronunciation. To be honest, I speak a lot more than I read because I don't have a discipline to memorize the characters! After creating this Hub it makes me think about getting more serious in my studies!

Numbers in that entire region are very similar; check it out on Wikipedia and you will see only minor differences in character and sound. Khmer did borrow some English but I think as in Vietnam, French was more influential. Cambodian is a bit similar to Thai, but they really are much different. Same with Laos & Vietnamese.

Thanks for reading and commenting! I put quite a few hours into this one so it was great to read your comment!


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on June 10, 2011:

@UhOhChongo: thanks for the comment!


Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on June 10, 2011:

You have put together a good introduction to Cambodian or the Khmer language. Just out of curiosity J.S., how long have you been studying and working with the language? In looking at the written language, I see that the numbers are written very similar to how Thai numbers are written. The sentence structure such as adjectives following nouns is also very similar to Thai. I started learning Thai about 7 years ago and have found it very hard to master the tones in the language. I also find it hard to read. Thai borrows a lot of words from English and renders them with Thai sounds. Does Cambodian do the same thing? Thanks for the great hub!

UhOhChongo from Philadelphia, PA on June 09, 2011:

Cool article!

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