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Khmer - Cambodia's Official Language

Updated on August 10, 2010

Cambodia is a small nation in Southeast Asia of about 15 million citizens tucked in between Thailand on the west and northwest, Laos on the northeast, Vietnam on the east and the Gulf of Thailand on the south.

The main ethnic group inhabiting Cambodia is the Khmer (pronounced Kh'mai) ethnic group which makes about 90% of the nation's population. The official language of Cambodia is the Khmer (Kh'mai) language. This hub introduces the reader to the Khmer language.

Ancient Khmer Script

History of Khmer Script

First appearing in the 7th century CE, the Khmer script was one of the earliest writing systems used in Southeast Asia. It was originally derived from the Pali and Sanskrit script from ancient India before being refined to its current version.

Khmer Consonants

Khmer Consonants

The Khmer script has 33 consonant symbols (see consonant diagram below). The 33 consonants are divided into primary and secondary sounds and each have a subscript version used when blending consonants like "sp" in space or "cr" in crane.

Consonants with Subscripts

Dependent Vowel Symbols

Khmer Vowels

The Khmer Script also has 21 dependent and nine independent vowel symbols. Each of the 21 dependent vowel symbols can be pronounced one of two different ways depending on whether it is tied to a primary or secondary consonant. The English translations for each symbol in terms of pronunciation are under each symbol pictured in the illustrations below.

Independent Symbols

Creating a Word in Khmer Script

In order to form a word in Khmer language script,

  1. Write the consonant
  2. Add consonant subscript(s) (if the word has a consonant blend)
  3. Add the necessary vowel symbol.

Sample Khmer Words

Books on Khmer Language


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    • profile image

      Mordo Crosswords Sol 

      6 years ago

      Official language of Cambodia

      We think that knowledge should pass freely

      This time, we got the following crossword puzzle clue : Official language of Cambodia that also known as Official language of Cambodia 5 letters . First, we gonna look for more hints to the Official language of Cambodia crossword puzzle . Then we will collect all the require information and for solving Official language of Cambodia crossword . In the final, we get all the possible answers for the this crossword puzzle definition.

      Here are other similar crossword definitions:

      Official language of Cambodia ;

      Cambodian tongue ,

      Like the Angkor ruins ;


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      can someone translate the name kyle into khmer script please

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Five is "Pram or ?????", not "Prum".

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Corona, California

      Shimla, thank you for dropping by and placing your encouraging comments. I have been to Angkor Wat and the surrounding areas twice. It is definitely one of the finest pieces of architecture in the ancient world.

    • shimla profile image

      Scott M 

      9 years ago

      Enjoyed this, thanks.I'm struggling along with Thai and plan a second trip to Cambodia soon, so will try to absorb soe of the info in your hub. I just finished a little piece on Angkor. All the best, Shimla

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Corona, California

      Lilly, thank you for your comment. I appreciate all the encouragement you give me. Actually Khmer would be a great international language. Each sound is defined by a symbol and there are very few exceptions unlike the English language.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 

      9 years ago from Central Oregon

      Thank you for sharing this beautiful Hub on Khmer...I wish my brain could register the symbols...Thank you!!


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