How English is winning Cambodia's war of words.

Have questions or resources regarding Khmer Culture? This forum is all about the Kingdom of Cambodia's culture. Khmer language, Cambodian weddings, French influence, Cambodian architecture, Cambodian politics, Khmer customs, etc? This is the place. Living in Cambodia can cause you to experience a whole new level of culture shock, so feel free to talk about all things related to the Khmer people, and their traditions. And if you want something in Khmer script translated into English, you will probably find what you need.
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How English is winning Cambodia's war of words.

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:40 pm

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Orphans studying Khmer in Takeo province, Cambodia. Photo: EPA/Mak Remissa

Simon Roughneen
October 15, 2019


The national language, Khmer, is increasingly treading lexical water, as if about to be pulled under by waves of technological and scientific neologisms.

“It is pretty much challenging in the case of Cambodia where the translation of these keywords into Khmer has been generally slow, fragmented and not widely popularised in daily usage,” Theara said.

“Some researchers have tried to translate the terms into Khmer, but from a practitioner’s perspective, we are generally more familiar, convenient and efficient with using the terms in English per se than the translated ones,” Theara added.

Official Khmer has two reference sources for translation, the Chuon Nath Dictionary, published in 1967, and the National Commission of Khmer Language. But there are, according to Theara, “still a lot of practical terminologies yet to be formally translated and approved by the commission”.

The limitations of language and vocabulary stretch into medicine, with discussions in Khmer typically featuring general or roundabout descriptions of symptoms rather than the precise, scientific terminology more common to clinics in countries that have long since assimilated medical words into their own tongues.

Dr Rithy said that consultations could be more precise if both doctor and patient were able to speak in English rather than their native Khmer. If not, he said, they tried to make do.

Representatives of several of the main foreign business lobby groups in Cambodia did not reply to requests to discuss the role of Khmer in issues such as contract discussions and deal-making, but scholar Filippi said that Cambodia and Khmer present no more of a difficulty in that regard than anywhere else where foreign investors typically wrestle with documents written in – and negotiations conducted through – both a native tongue and a lingua franca such as English.

“My concern is for the future as many of those who belong to the emerging middle classes send their children to international school where they are going to be excellent in English,” said Filippi. “But will they in the end be able to speak Khmer as a working national language?”

full https://southeastasiaglobe.com/how-engl ... -of-words/
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Re: How English is winning Cambodia's war of words.

Post by explorer » Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:08 am

English words are coming into Khmer. For example, computer. A lot of Cambodians understand yes and no, even the numbers 1 to 10. Hello and bye bye seem to be understood by people speaking many languages.

I think within 2 generations, Cambodia will be like the Philippines, where a lot of people speak English.
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Re: How English is winning Cambodia's war of words.

Post by hunter8 » Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:41 am

explorer wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:08 am
English words are coming into Khmer. For example, computer. A lot of Cambodians understand yes and no, even the numbers 1 to 10. Hello and bye bye seem to be understood by people speaking many languages.

I think within 2 generations, Cambodia will be like the Philippines, where a lot of people speak English.
Not Chinese?
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Re: How English is winning Cambodia's war of words.

Post by John Bingham » Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:48 am

Much as I like the language, it is only spoken by a very small proportion of the world population. The script is beautiful but over complex and does not lend itself to simple translation. It doesn't run from left to right or right to left, it has all these bits underneath and on top and vowels wrapping each end. Computers haven't been invented yet with enough power to effectively translate Cambodian writing into comprehensible English. The design of the lettering is over-complicated. Look at a letter "T" or "L", they only need two lines. Even the simplest Khmer script characters have far more complex structures. I have often had to use the script and ask local colleagues for help, as just breaking a line often involves the whole sense of the message changing, meaning it has to be re-written. And no two people can ever agree on the correct way to do this.
There's no great surprise here anyway, when I came here first almost 20 years ago I was surprised how prevalent the use of English was compared to neighboring countries. Chinese language learning is huge too, French not so much outside of certain circles and the medical people.
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Re: How English is winning Cambodia's war of words.

Post by fax » Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:23 am

explorer wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:08 am
English words are coming into Khmer. For example, computer.
This has little to do with English, see Bic and Casio. It’s the same to say “take a PassApp” as “Google it”. When brands go viral they change how we speak regardless which language we speak. Saying “dumpster” is easier than “garbage bin with a lid and wheels”, and what would you call an escalator or a frisbee if not their trademarked product names?

Changes to language are just signs that the language is used. A language that doesn’t change doesn’t change because nobody speaks it and it is dead.
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Re: How English is winning Cambodia's war of words.

Post by Soriya » Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:48 am

fax wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:23 am
explorer wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:08 am
English words are coming into Khmer. For example, computer.
what would you call an escalator or a frisbee if not their trademarked product names?

Moving stairs and flying disk?
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Re: How English is winning Cambodia's war of words.

Post by explorer » Wed Nov 06, 2019 4:27 am

fax wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:23 am
what would you call an escalator or a frisbee if not their trademarked product names?
The little I have heard escalators being talked about, the word for stairs was used. That is 'gumjoonda.'
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Re: How English is winning Cambodia's war of words.

Post by explorer » Wed Nov 06, 2019 4:35 am

Another English word in Khmer is passion fruit. They say 'plae passion.' Plae is fruit.

I have mentioned in another post, the Cambodian name for diabetes translates as 'sweet urine.' It would sound more sophisticated if they used the English word diabetes.
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Re: How English is winning Cambodia's war of words.

Post by Username Taken » Wed Nov 06, 2019 4:51 am

fax wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:23 am
explorer wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:08 am
English words are coming into Khmer. For example, computer.
This has little to do with English, see Bic and Casio. It’s the same to say “take a PassApp” as “Google it”. When brands go viral they change how we speak regardless which language we speak. Saying “dumpster” is easier than “garbage bin with a lid and wheels”, and what would you call an escalator or a frisbee if not their trademarked product names?

Changes to language are just signs that the language is used. A language that doesn’t change doesn’t change because nobody speaks it and it is dead.
All non English speaking people in the provinces with a smart phone know 'internet slow'.
... give 'em a quick, short, sharp shock ...

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Re: How English is winning Cambodia's war of words.

Post by Duncan » Wed Nov 06, 2019 6:48 am

What is the Khmer word for carrot ?
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