Usable Khymer 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.
taabarang
Expatriate
Posts: 3858
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 7:49 am
Reputation: 975
Location: Outside of Kampong Cham city
United States of America

Re: Usable Khymer Language

Post by taabarang »

"Maybe some people dont speak Khmer well."

There is NO doubt in my mind you belong to that group.
As my old Cajun bait seller used to say, "I opes you luck.
khmerhamster
Expatriate
Posts: 425
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2016 2:28 pm
Reputation: 194
Turkmenistan

Re: Usable Khymer Language

Post by khmerhamster »

taabarang wrote:"Maybe some people dont speak Khmer well."

There is NO doubt in my mind you belong to that group.
If we are being honest, I think there are plenty of us in that group.
Despite what sycophantic locals like to tell us!
explorer
Expatriate
Posts: 2417
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:37 pm
Reputation: 766
Australia

Re: Usable Khymer Language

Post by explorer »

I will explain another example.

Phnom Penh ends with the same ញ.

If you listen to Cambodians there is a definite ny sound at the end.

If you were to write the sounds in English, you would write Pnom Peny.

However, people would then pronounce it Pnom Penny, the same as the old coin, which would be wrong.

So to get the closest sound, you would write it Pnom Pen, but people would pronounce it a little different from Cambodians.

The French put h's in, which are silent, at least when English speakers read it.

That is probably why the French spell it nh.
## I thought I knew all the answers, but they changed all the questions. ##
explorer
Expatriate
Posts: 2417
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:37 pm
Reputation: 766
Australia

Re: Usable Khymer Language

Post by explorer »

I am not here to have a competition about who speaks Khmer the best. I am just sharing information which may help some new users.
## I thought I knew all the answers, but they changed all the questions. ##
User avatar
Kammekor
Expatriate
Posts: 3115
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:50 pm
Reputation: 1184
Cambodia

Re: Usable Khymer Language

Post by Kammekor »

explorer wrote: Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:52 am
Kammekor wrote: Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:24 am Why? The conversion is unambiguous. A ញ becomes a nh. So a nh will sound the same all the time.
The French wrote it nh. The sound is actually ny.
Whether it's from the French or not is no issue, the issue is there is consensus all around Cambodia the ញ becomes a nh. If you want to write it as a ny go ahead, but then you are not following the conventions.
Kammekor wrote: Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:24 am For instance the name បញ្ញា is converted into Panha using the official conversion rules, where I would convert it to Panja because in my language an h is never pronounced as a j-sound. When I had to translate my kids birth certificate at the MoFA a few years ago I needed quite some (monetary) persuasion to convince the officer at the MoFA to not use the official conversion table but instead convert បញ្ញា to Panja.
explorer wrote: Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:52 am There is no absolute right or wrong here. You can spell it how you like. However if you listen to how the Cambodians pronounce it, it is Bunya.
It's funny you can pronounce my kid's name clearer than me.
But there is no u in បញ្ញា. See Jamie's other post, this is the same issue.

explorer wrote: Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:52 am If you ask them to write it, many will spell it with the French spelling.

I speak with an Australian accent. Someone who speaks with a different accent may spell it differently.
Ask who? Who are 'they'? Again, in Cambodia there's consensus over how to converse the Khmer script into Latin script. There are conversion tables.
Accent has nothing to do with it. A certain combination of letters creates a certain sound. It's the fact you are not aware of the conversion rules that creates the confusion, not your accent or your mothertongue. You convert បញ្ញា to Bunya, where the official conversion is Panha. You create your own confusion by converting an a to an u for instance.
explorer wrote: Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:52 am
Kammekor wrote: Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:24 am Ideally everyone will learn the Khmer alphabet, but that's not realistic. While it adds a level of refinement if you can read the Khmer script it's no condition for learning conversational Khmer.
Everybody has free choice. It is up to them what they do.

However, it is not difficult to learn the Khmer letters. It only looks difficult for those who dont try.

After learning the alphabet, it is easier to get the pronunciation more accurate.
Learning the Khmer alphabet is difficult, don't pretend it's a five minute job. In primary it takes nearly a full year to learn the alphabet and create simple words. The whole structure of the Khmer language with two groups of consonants, the rules about multiple consonants, the lack of spacing between words, etc etc makes learning to read and write Khmer a very complicated task. My kid learns both Dutch and Khmer, and learning to read and write Dutch is much easier to learn than Khmer.

And yes, being able to read and write adds refinement to your pronunciation, but it's not needed. I could perfectly make myself clear in Khmer before I was able to read or write, and all my teacher used was Khmer words converted into Latin script using consequent conversion rules. Even now when I read a Khmer word it takes me relatively a long time to read it, I sometimes wonder if it was worth the effort.
User avatar
fax
Expatriate
Posts: 2426
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:28 am
Reputation: 1237
Korea North

Re: Usable Khymer Language

Post by fax »

I agree, the way I pronounce something depends on the language (or accent) I read it in. The letter "j" is a good example, a Scandinavian would natively pronounce it like a soft "j", like "yoyo" ("You hannes"), while an English speaker pronounces it harder sounding "dj" like "jungle" ("Joe hannes").

This is why IPA was invented?
Last edited by fax on Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
taabarang
Expatriate
Posts: 3858
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 7:49 am
Reputation: 975
Location: Outside of Kampong Cham city
United States of America

Re: Usable Khymer Language

Post by taabarang »

explorer wrote: Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:39 am I will explain another example.

Phnom Penh ends with the same ញ.

If you listen to Cambodians there is a definite ny sound at the end.

If you were to write the sounds in English, you would write Pnom Peny.

However, people would then pronounce it Pnom Penny, the same as the old coin, which would be wrong.

So to get the closest sound, you would write it Pnom Pen, but people would pronounce it a little different from Cambodians.

The French put h's in, which are silent, at least when English speakers read it.

That is probably why the French spell it nh.
As my old Cajun bait seller used to say, "I opes you luck.
explorer
Expatriate
Posts: 2417
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:37 pm
Reputation: 766
Australia

Re: Usable Khymer Language

Post by explorer »

Kammekor wrote: Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:44 am Whether it's from the French or not is no issue, the issue is there is consensus all around Cambodia the ញ becomes a nh. If you want to write it as a ny go ahead, but then you are not following the conventions.
If English speaking people use the French spelling, and understand how it is pronounced, that may work for them.

For example, if they know nh is pronounced ny, and they know ch is pronounced j, they may pronounce it ok.

There are some sounds you cant write in English.
## I thought I knew all the answers, but they changed all the questions. ##
User avatar
Kammekor
Expatriate
Posts: 3115
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:50 pm
Reputation: 1184
Cambodia

Re: Usable Khymer Language

Post by Kammekor »

explorer wrote: Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:39 am I will explain another example.

Phnom Penh ends with the same ញ.

If you listen to Cambodians there is a definite ny sound at the end.

If you were to write the sounds in English, you would write Pnom Peny.

However, people would then pronounce it Pnom Penny, the same as the old coin, which would be wrong.

So to get the closest sound, you would write it Pnom Pen, but people would pronounce it a little different from Cambodians.

The French put h's in, which are silent, at least when English speakers read it.

That is probably why the French spell it nh.
The h in the conversion from ញ to nh has nothing to do with a silent h. The reason they use nh instead of n is that the ញ has a different sound than the ន from 'bread' which is a n-sound.

There is a reason រាជធានី​ភ្នំពេញ is converted to Phnom Penh and not Pnom Pen, Pnoom Pen or even Nom Pen or something.

First of all the ph is used for another sound in the conversion than a p. The same for the nh at the end the points to another sound than the n.

If you know the conversion rules you can read Khmer in Latin and pronounce it correctly. You just have to be aware which combi of Latin letters relates to what sound. That might be confusing in the beginning, but it will save you months of studying the Khmer characters.
User avatar
fax
Expatriate
Posts: 2426
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:28 am
Reputation: 1237
Korea North

Re: Usable Khymer Language

Post by fax »

Are the conversion rules available somewhere? Would be interesting to see. TIA
Post Reply Previous topicNext topic
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 76 guests