Cambodian/Khmer: Joom-reap leah!

So … I won’t attempt to write anything in the Khmer script this time. It took me several hours to review and post the alphabet alone for the previous entry. My feelings about Khmer in general are likely predictable …

SUMMARY: Khmer is spoken by roughly 15 million people around the world, almost exclusively in Cambodia and surrounding countries. The language is part of the Austro-Asiatic language group, in the same branch with Vietnamese. A lot of the language’s borrowings come from India via Theravada Buddhism and its other nearby neighbor, China. The Khmer script, known as Aksar Khmer, appeared around the 600s. Throughout the first millennium, the Khmer Empire spread throughout southeast Asia before collapsing and falling into the hands of Thai and Vietnamese powers. Khmer, in its middle period, absorbed linguistic influences from Lao, Thai and Vietnamese. By the time the French had arrived and planted their roots in Cambodia, Khmer had changed into the form currently spoken today.

FINAL IMPRESSION: I’d rather earn Vietnamese. Even though I mentioned Khmer doesn’t have tonal pitches, it really didn’t seem to make a difference. When I listened to the language, it sounded like a lot of the words were sort of monotone with a little rise at the end of sentences. Like my first impressions, I still think it sounds a little like Vietnamese, but spoken a teeny bit quicker.

There are some simplicities for English speakers; the language is SVO and nouns don’t have grammatical gender. There is also no verb inflection. But honorific pronouns are used, which vary depending on whether or not you are using common speech or are speaking formally or to or about  royalty and monks (I tend to think of the latter as a cool Buddhist trademark).

Still, nothing sparked my interest. And undeniably, the alphabet is the hardest I’ve ever read.

One thing I did enjoy from this was an episode of “Extreme Khmer” on YouTube. Check it out!

Intelligibility: 3
Complexity: 3
Resonance: 2
Continuation: 1

COMING UP: Serbian

2 thoughts on “Cambodian/Khmer: Joom-reap leah!

  1. I just found your blog today. As a person who has been interested in languages his entire life (I learned bit of Spanish at 5 years old), experiments like this are right up my alley. I’m fluent in English, and almost fluent in Esperanto. I have studied German, Latin, and Russian in high school or college. I’ve studied Finnish, French, Klingon, Norwegian, Hindi, and Sanskrit on my own. Oh, and I taught myself Devanagari. It took me an hour a day for about a month. The phonology is very logical; you just have to remember the shapes of the symbols. 🙂

    Because of your blog, I’ve been listening to Finnish rock on all night. What a gorgeous language! I think I’ll have to pick up some Finnish sometime.

    Be well! Vale optime! Gxis! Tscheuss! Do svidanya! Qapla’! Namaste!

  2. Darin! I think we may be kindred spirits! I’m really glad you came across my blog and I admire your diligence in learning all those languages (especially Devanagari)! Aren’t they fascinating pursuits? And Finnish rock is pretty cool.

    Thank you so much for the well-wishes and feel free to stop by anytime!

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