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

Postby JBTrain » Wed Jun 11, 2014 2:09 pm

If Romanizing a tonal language like Vietnamese could work, i can't see why Khmer wouldn't. It was done after all, there were dictionaries and school curricula prepared in the 1940s. My daughter, who is 6, reads English faster than my Cambodian attorney reads Khmer(who reads for a living).
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Re: The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

Postby starkmonster » Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:44 pm

JBTrain wrote:If Romanizing a tonal language like Vietnamese could work, i can't see why Khmer wouldn't. It was done after all, there were dictionaries and school curricula prepared in the 1940s. My daughter, who is 6, reads English faster than my Cambodian attorney reads Khmer(who reads for a living).
Of course it could work, the question is why bother? You could fix the speed issue just by putting spaces between the words, which would be very easy to fix seeing as all typed Khmer already has spaces between the words so that word processors and web browsers know where to break lines, they are just hidden when the text is rendered. In fact now I think of it I might have a play with my computer later and see if I can get it to do that automatically.

I don't think it's any easier to learn English than it is Khmer. We have a smaller alphabet but we have lots of different sounds that are created by joining two or three letters together, so in reality there's not any less to remember. I would even argue that Khmer is easier to learn to read than English because there are very few exceptions to the rules, whilst in English they are countless.
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Re: The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

Postby JBTrain » Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:52 pm

starkmonster wrote:
JBTrain wrote:If Romanizing a tonal language like Vietnamese could work, i can't see why Khmer wouldn't. It was done after all, there were dictionaries and school curricula prepared in the 1940s. My daughter, who is 6, reads English faster than my Cambodian attorney reads Khmer(who reads for a living).
Of course it could work, the question is why bother? You could fix the speed issue just by putting spaces between the words, which would be very easy to fix seeing as all typed Khmer already has spaces between the words so that word processors and web browsers know where to break lines, they are just hidden when the text is rendered. In fact now I think of it I might have a play with my computer later and see if I can get it to do that automatically.

I don't think it's any easier to learn English than it is Khmer. We have a smaller alphabet but we have lots of different sounds that are created by joining two or three letters together, so in reality there's not any less to remember. I would even argue that Khmer is easier to learn to read than English because there are very few exceptions to the rules, whilst in English they are countless.
Learning English is a bitch but Romanizing is not the same as Anglicizing. In Vietnamese each sound has one letter regardless of where it's used. Written Khmer is complex in ways that a Romanized version would not be (multiple registers, letter order mixed up). I'm not arguing it needs to be done but I do believe literacy would be improved if it were.
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Re: The Value of Trying to Learn a Not-So Dying Language

Postby kheng.info » Sat Jun 14, 2014 10:44 am

starkmonster wrote:You could fix the speed issue just by putting spaces between the words, which would be very easy to fix seeing as all typed Khmer already has spaces between the words so that word processors and web browsers know where to break lines, they are just hidden when the text is rendered. In fact now I think of it I might have a play with my computer later and see if I can get it to do that automatically.
If you run linux you can replace zero-width spaces with normal spaces very easily with the shell command:

Code: Select all

sed 's/\xe2\x80\x8b/ /g' < input.txt > output.txt
On Windows, Word should be able to do a find and replace. I believe you hold ALT, followed by "+" and then "200b" (the Unicode hex value for a ZWS) to input the character.

You'll find that different authors are highly idiosyncratic with their placement of zero-width spaces. Some will divide words like កាំភ្លើង, សាងសង់, etc. while others will treat them as a single unit.

I think you're right that spacing the Khmer script would increase reading speed, but I do prefer the look of unspaced text.


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