The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

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.
User avatar
OrangeDragon
Site Admin
Posts: 4183
Joined: Fri May 02, 2014 8:05 pm
Karma: 6
United States of America

Re: The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

Postby OrangeDragon » Sat Jun 07, 2014 3:11 pm

StroppyChops wrote:
FreeSocrates! wrote:
StroppyChops wrote:Good post, FS! +100 Internets.
Thanks Chief. I dunno but you seem like a Chief, not a "dude" or a "man". :beer3: !
LOL! Anything but 'bahs'
Yes mam!
User avatar
StroppyChops
The Missionary Man
Posts: 8529
Joined: Tue May 06, 2014 11:24 am
Karma: 150
Australia

Re: The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

Postby StroppyChops » Sat Jun 07, 2014 4:07 pm

OrangeDragon wrote:
StroppyChops wrote:
FreeSocrates! wrote:
StroppyChops wrote:Good post, FS! +100 Internets.
Thanks Chief. I dunno but you seem like a Chief, not a "dude" or a "man". :beer3: !
LOL! Anything but 'bahs'
Yes mam!
:facepalm: I guess FS did say I don't seem like a man.
Bodge: This ain't Kansas, and the neighbours ate Toto!
User avatar
giblet
Expatriate
Posts: 424
Joined: Mon May 12, 2014 7:01 pm
Karma: 0

Re: The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

Postby giblet » Sat Jun 07, 2014 4:30 pm

Bitte_Kein_Lexus wrote:Maybe some history experts could chime in (Lucky Lucan doesn't post here unfortunately).
I wonder why not--he posts everywhere else. Calling Lucky Lucan! :beer3:
User avatar
StroppyChops
The Missionary Man
Posts: 8529
Joined: Tue May 06, 2014 11:24 am
Karma: 150
Australia

Re: The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

Postby StroppyChops » Sat Jun 07, 2014 4:36 pm

LL mentioned he'd been and seen, but is comfortable 'over there' for now.
Bodge: This ain't Kansas, and the neighbours ate Toto!
taabarang
Expatriate
Posts: 1968
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 7:49 am
Karma: 112
Location: Outside of Kampong Cham city
United States of America

Re: The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

Postby taabarang » Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:26 pm

Well, there are a lot of points i disagree with here, but I'll limit myself to this one, "4) You can talk to locals (or at least attempt it). Seems obvious, but they very much appreciate your efforts. In fact I'd go as far to say that you get more respect because of it."

Ok attempt is one hell of a qualifier, but if you learn what could be called "classical Cambodian" you will have one hell of a lot of problems. For instance, teacher kru bang rian in my village becomes this-
ku p'hian and most words that start with "r" start with an "h"sound in the local's speech. For example roap(to count) is hoap. Then there are local idioms such as I'm going straight home in classical Cambodian is "khnom chheupuas tau pteah" but in our village they say, "nyom tau pteahtamoang."

Another reason is limited vocabulary due to a lack of education. If I want to say "details" I can't use the dictionary word "pusada" I have to say po'a r'mian thaim tiat" Additional information. So, I would say it depends on who your locals are and how well educated they are. Sometimes there is a word you will be taught like nau krup te konlaing (everywhere) but a local word is more favored. In this case mi de dah.


Usually they will understand you but don't feel too disappointed if you don't understand them. There are many many more examples, but I just want to make a point.
Last edited by taabarang on Sun Jun 08, 2014 5:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out of the window.

Romanian proverb, but applicable especially to the KofW.
User avatar
Username Taken
Raven
Posts: 6383
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 6:53 pm
Karma: 126
Contact:
Cambodia

Re: The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

Postby Username Taken » Sat Jun 07, 2014 10:38 pm

By 'classical' I guess you mean 'colloquial'.

You are right. Talking with city folk is way different to talking with country folk.

Also, as you move around the country, you will find colloquialisms that are only relevant in particular areas and unknown in other places.
Just part of the beauty (read: challenge) of learning any language.
:)
... give 'em a quick, short, sharp shock ...

https://BooksAboutCambodia.com
taabarang
Expatriate
Posts: 1968
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 7:49 am
Karma: 112
Location: Outside of Kampong Cham city
United States of America

Re: The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

Postby taabarang » Sun Jun 08, 2014 5:45 am

"By 'classical' I guess you mean 'colloquial " Nope I don't, I mean the formal language say like hoch Deutsch compared with any of the regional dialects or the French of the L'academie francaise as opposed to say the dialect of Limousin or quebecois or cajun or many others. Classical here means the formal use which is wha t most foreigners are taught. And rightfully so. And yes, I like learning languages too, one point that I was trying to make is that no, you may not immediately understand them, tho you may eventually be able to communicate, but it may take longer than you thought. Also, the "city folk" of I assume you mean PP don't speak much differently that rural people since many of them come from rural areas.
When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out of the window.

Romanian proverb, but applicable especially to the KofW.
User avatar
FreeSocrates!
Expatriate
Posts: 506
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 5:14 am
Karma: 0
Location: Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh
Canada

Re: The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

Postby FreeSocrates! » Sun Jun 08, 2014 2:14 pm

taabarang wrote:Well, there are a lot of points i disagree with here, but I'll limit myself to this one, "4) You can talk to locals (or at least attempt it). Seems obvious, but they very much appreciate your efforts. In fact I'd go as far to say that you get more respect because of it."
That's cool. I did preface this by saying "I wasn't an expert", it's more of a beginner's perspective on things.
Bitte_Kein_Lexus wrote:As for #13, I don't think the French really tried hard to romanize Khmer. Vietnamese used adapted Chinese characters prior to the arrival of the misssionaries who developed it and the French who enforced it, but it seems romanization really helped promote litteracy. Meanwhile, the French didn't introduce romanization in Cambodia until the 40s and the Japanese invasion quickly put an end to that. I don't know about Vietnamese, but Khmer is pretty difficult to romanize accurately so the French might have had it on the back-burner priority-wise because Khmer script was fairly good compared to using Chinese characters for Vietnamese. Not only in terms of pronunciation, but also the time it takes to master. Maybe some history experts could chime in (Lucky Lucan doesn't post here unfortunately).
Your Khmer is definately a million times better than mine so I won't argue with you about it.

But I'd like to find out more about this. Especially if the romanization leads to higher literacy rates or functional literacy rates.

I think Thailand and Vietnam both have similar literacy rates (not sure about functional literacy rates) - but it's an interesting comparison because Thai is not Romanized, so I dunno if it really matters afterall.

I'd assume blindly that the low literacy rate here is more related to poverty and a couple decades of internal conflict and strife, but then didn't Vietnam also have this too?

I was watching some documentary on PolPot last night, and towards the end of it, some expert came on and said what the KR did set Cambodia back 100 years! 100 years!! ONE HUNDRED YEARS!!! That's nuts!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDPXkL0 ... 5_p-bBBbRl
The cedar roasted asparagus has good chew. I don't know how to enjoy it, so I'll Instagram it instead.
taabarang
Expatriate
Posts: 1968
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 7:49 am
Karma: 112
Location: Outside of Kampong Cham city
United States of America

Re: The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

Postby taabarang » Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:39 pm

OP, nothing wrong with being a beginner. But after having lived in Cambodia for 17 years, 11 of which were and still are in rural Cambodia, (where either you learn the language or become the shame of your wife, children and in-laws) that creates an environment where you learn quickly. I certainly am not an expert, nor do I have any desire to have that label attached to me. Nonetheless, this experience has given me a certain fluency for which I am grateful. I will address other points that you posted when the beer so moves me.
When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out of the window.

Romanian proverb, but applicable especially to the KofW.
User avatar
Bitte_Kein_Lexus
Expatriate
Posts: 2189
Joined: Sun May 18, 2014 7:32 pm
Karma: 29

Re: The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

Postby Bitte_Kein_Lexus » Sun Jun 08, 2014 4:41 pm

I think the basic argument is that it takes years to master Chinese characters, but very little time to learn the roman alphabet. The Vietnamese didn't have their own alphabet, so they used modified Chinese characters. The Koreans also invented their own characters in the 1400s because Chinese simply wasn't suited for the sounds of Korean and severely hindered literacy by limiting it to the few who didn't have to work.

Khmer script, despite being a bit difficult to learn, is probably way easier than Chinese. Khmer has a phonetic alphabet, so what you read is what you hear. Chinese, in contract, has no phonetic equivalencies. So instead of reading out letters and the sounds they produce, you're just looking at symbols and remembering what each character means. Given the time required to learn all the symbols, it goes without saying that only those from privileged backgrounds could learn to read and write. Compounded with the fact that Chinese is inherently different to both Vietnamese and Korean, learning to read or write was apparently quite difficult.

Of course, China is highly literate by now, but I still think a major reason Chinese will never become a lingua franca is because it's simply too hard and takes too much time to learn (to read, apparently speaking is fairly easy). I remember 10-15 years ago people kept saying that Chinese would become the new international language, but I knew that would likely never happen.

As for what taabarang said, it's true. But I'd argue that since the majority of Phnom Penh's population comes from teh countryside, you're not at a disadvantage by learning standard Khmer. The phnong and Krung have their own strong accents. A friend's wife (whom you know) is kampuchea krom and can't read or write any khmer, but is perfectly fluent (no accent). However, I've noticed a few oddities in the way she speaks. For example, she always says "ot yul" (I don't understand) in instances where Khmers from here would say "ot dung" (I don't know). Subtle differences, but it can be a bit confusing at first. Some areas of Kompong Thom, Siem Riep and Kompong Chnang have huge accents and speak in a Swiss yodeling way. It's quite funny and pleasing to the ear. If I find the time I'll upload a video later. That being said, I'd argue that learning proper Khmer (like taa's hochdeutsch reference) is a pre-requisite to learning "normal" Khmer. I think it's obviously better to learn the "proper way", and then learn slang, street lingo or adopt a regional accent.

[EDIT] As an aside, I do think Khmer could do with a reform. English, German and French have all had several grammar reforms, but Khmer seems pretty traditional-minded. For example, putting spaces between words is very logical and I'd venture to guess would speed up the reading process significantly. When I was learning to read it was one thing that I found quite annoying and illogical. I eventually got too busy to properly learn to read, but I might eventually get back into it later on.
Ex Bitteeinbit/LexusSchmexus


  • Advertisement
Booking.com

  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “Cambodian Culture and Language”



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 25 guests