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
starkmonster
Expatriate
Posts: 109
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:45 pm
Karma: 0

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

Postby starkmonster » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:48 am

StroppyChops wrote:
FreeSocrates! wrote:But I'd like to find out more about this. Especially if the romanization leads to higher literacy rates or functional literacy rates.
It's due at least in part to Pol Pot and the KR who attempted to eradicate anyone educated - defined as being literate, or simply wearing glasses. Generational damage that will take a while to address. I've heard it said that as few as 30% of Khmer are literate in their birth language, but I don't have a citation for this.
Khmer adult literacy is actually quite high at about 85%. - http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/cam ... stics.html

The you literacy rate 15-24 is above 97%. This is actually a big success story so don't expect to be reading about it in the Daily any time soon.
Last edited by starkmonster on Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
starkmonster
Expatriate
Posts: 109
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:45 pm
Karma: 0

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

Postby starkmonster » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:55 am

I think when it comes to speaking to Khmer it's best to speak as it's written to begin with. It's like the queens English, it might sound like you've got a stick up your arse but at least everyone understands it. Also when you speak like that you sound like a newsreader or someone in authority so they tend to up their own game and cut out the accents and slang, a bit like your mums phone voice so it will make your life easier.
User avatar
JBTrain
Expatriate
Posts: 354
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 3:44 pm
Karma: 1
Location: Phnom Penh
Contact:

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

Postby JBTrain » Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:14 am

Bitte_Kein_Lexus wrote:Nice thread. I agree with all your points (except the drinking part). #2 is especially true I think. Culture and language are so closely linked that I doubt one could talk of culture without language. #3 is also true. Some sounds are just so foreign to westerners. I don't think it's possible to not have an accent. #7 is also true. I've learned Spanish, German and Russian and they were all obviously expensive compared to Khmer. I've thought about learning Vietnamese or Chinese while here, just because costs are so much lower, but I simply don't have the time or motivation anymore, lol. Still, knowing one could learn basic Chinese or Viet for dirt cheap is nice. I've always loved languages though. It's cool to learn the intricacies of languages and their uniqueness. It's also very true that each language has some things that simply can't be translated. There's also tons of scientific literature on the benefits of learning a language (the connections it makes in your brain and so on).

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).
It didn't go anywhere because Sihanouk put up a fuss. If he had embraced the concept no doubt the romanization campaign would have gone ahead .In addition to his own nationalistic reasons Sihanouk would have been aware that the Viet Minh had made great use of Quoc Ngu literacy campaigns and i don't imagine he would have wanted to see that experience mirrored on his turf.
Using Tapatalk
User avatar
starkmonster
Expatriate
Posts: 109
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:45 pm
Karma: 0

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

Postby starkmonster » Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:40 am

I also don't think it makes sense to romanise Khmer. It's has a lot more characters than the English alphabet but that makes it far less ambiguous than English. My son who is 8 and bilingual is currently learning to read Khmer, he's been doing three hours a week for a few months and it's pretty amazing the progress he's made.

I think if starting from scratch it's faster to get up and running with English but Khmer is much faster to master. English just has too many words that when spoken don't match letter sounds and need to be learned one by one, at his school they call these "tricky words" in the books he brings home to read for homework. I really never appreciated how many there were in English until it became my job to help someone learn to read.
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! » Tue Jun 10, 2014 11:41 am

starkmonster wrote:
StroppyChops wrote:
FreeSocrates! wrote:But I'd like to find out more about this. Especially if the romanization leads to higher literacy rates or functional literacy rates.
It's due at least in part to Pol Pot and the KR who attempted to eradicate anyone educated - defined as being literate, or simply wearing glasses. Generational damage that will take a while to address. I've heard it said that as few as 30% of Khmer are literate in their birth language, but I don't have a citation for this.
Khmer adult literacy is actually quite high at about 85%. - http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/cam ... stics.html

The you literacy rate 15-24 is above 97%. This is actually a big success story so don't expect to be reading about it in the Daily any time soon.
Do you know what the functional literacy rate is?
The cedar roasted asparagus has good chew. I don't know how to enjoy it, so I'll Instagram it instead.
User avatar
starkmonster
Expatriate
Posts: 109
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:45 pm
Karma: 0

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

Postby starkmonster » Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:23 pm

I don't think anyone knows, the last study I could find was 1999 when it was 37%. But as most of the country is under 15 and the primary school completion rate is now so high (98% in 2012) you would expect that percentage to have gone up significantly. The fact nobody can be bothered to study it any more is usually a good sign.
User avatar
Bitte_Kein_Lexus
Expatriate
Posts: 2192
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 » Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:50 am

I also think it's quite high as even in remote places they have basic reading/wrting skills. I've rarely encountered people who couldn't read at all. However, the reading speed (in Khmer) of many university graduates is about equal to a western 8th-grade student, so I definitely think a reform is needed. I'm not sure if that's because of the very phonetic nature of the language which might make speed-reading difficult, or f it's simply due to the lack of a reading culture here. Probably a combination of both but I'd venture to say that if Khmers read for pleasure, they could probably read quite a bit faster than they do now and expand their vocabulary significantly.
Ex Bitteeinbit/LexusSchmexus
User avatar
starkmonster
Expatriate
Posts: 109
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:45 pm
Karma: 0

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

Postby starkmonster » Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:16 pm

It's because there are no spaces. We speed read by only looking at the first and last character and guessing the word, you can't do this in Khmer:
I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.
User avatar
Bitte_Kein_Lexus
Expatriate
Posts: 2192
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 » Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:56 pm

I know, that's what I mentioned as the first thing they should reform in my earlier post. Makes no sense really. They should get with the program.
Ex Bitteeinbit/LexusSchmexus
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! » Wed Jun 11, 2014 2:00 pm

Thanks for the stats StarkMonster..
Bitte_Kein_Lexus wrote:I also think it's quite high as even in remote places they have basic reading/wrting skills. I've rarely encountered people who couldn't read at all. However, the reading speed (in Khmer) of many university graduates is about equal to a western 8th-grade student, so I definitely think a reform is needed. I'm not sure if that's because of the very phonetic nature of the language which might make speed-reading difficult, or f it's simply due to the lack of a reading culture here. Probably a combination of both but I'd venture to say that if Khmers read for pleasure, they could probably read quite a bit faster than they do now and expand their vocabulary significantly.
Come to think of it, do you ever see a Khmer reading anything except maybe a sign? I guess I've seen the odd magazine or newspaper, but other than that I've never seen a khmer read a book other than one teaching them how to speak english.

Maybe it's just more of a vocal / social culture.
The cedar roasted asparagus has good chew. I don't know how to enjoy it, so I'll Instagram it instead.


  • Advertisement
Booking.com

  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “Cambodian Culture and Language”



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider] and 19 guests