ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Learn Khmer: Part 1: Greetings & Sounds

Updated on December 16, 2012


Khmer is the language that Cambodians speak. Cambodia is a country located in Southeast Asia near Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. The culture, as theorists say, is a blend of Asian Indian and Chinese cultures. Hence, the language sounds will often sound like those of the Indian and Chinese languages. In addition, Cambodia was also colonized by the French for a short period in the early 1860s, and thus, words that the Khmer language never had were taken from the French language.

Note: Cambodia is the name of the country. "Cambodian" is the word that is used to describe people of this ethnicity. The language, however, is called "Khmer." It is acceptable to describe a person as Khmer, but it is NOT acceptable to say, "I speak Cambodian." Nonetheless, many people still say the phrase. Just know that it is incorrect grammar.

Khmer Sounds

*A lot of Khmer sounds do not exist in the English language. Some of their consonants are what I call "blended" sounds.

For example, I will write the number 2 in Khmer in this way:

(b+p)ee = two (in Khmer)

This is because in Khmer, there is no pure "B" sound like in the English word "bee" and no pure "P" sound like in the English word "pee." The "(b+p)" indicates a blend of a "B" and a "P" sound.

Here is another example:

(d+t)ai = tea (in Khmer)

Khmer does have a pure "T" sound like in the English word "tie," but for this particular word, there is a blend of a "D" sound like in the English word "die" and the "T" sound.

*Pronouncing the word with only a pure "T" sound will change the word's meaning from "tea" to "Thai," as in the language of the people of Thailand.

Here is another example:

(j+ch)aa = yes (in Khmer, for females)

Khmer does have a pure "ch" sound like in the English word "challenge," but saying this word without the blended "J" and "ch" sound but, instead, with only the pure "ch" sound will change its meaning to "fried food."

  • chaa = "fried food"

Here is another example:

(v+w)aii = to hit (in Khmer)

There are no pure "V" or "W" sounds in Khmer. An English speaker could simply say "vaii" or "waii" and still be understood, but some Cambodians will notice the lack of a true Khmer accent. Thus, the blended "(v+w)" sound is always more pleasant to hear.

Here is another example:

(g+k)aa = small cup (in Khmer)

There is a pure "K" sound in Khmer like in the English word "kid," but as you might have figured out by now, the blended "G" and "K" sound is what is best for this word.


The Khmer phrase for "hello" is:

SUER S(d+t)ey <-- notice the blended "D" and "T" sound in the phrase

*The word "SUER" should sound like the English word "sewer." However, at the very end of the word, the "R" should be cut short. It should still be there, but barely heard.

Suer S(d+t)ey, when literally translated, means "happy" or "good," but Cambodians use it as their greeting, so in this sense, it means "hello."

The Khmer phrase for "good morning" is:

Aa Ruon Suer S(d+t)ey

Notice that the phrase "suer s(d+t)ey," which means "good," is included in "good morning."

The Khmer phrase for "good afternoon" is:

Sai Yuan Suer S(d+t)ey

Notice, once again, that "suer s(d+t)ey" is included in "good afternoon."

The Khmer phrase for "good evening" is:

Ria (D+T)rey Suer S(d+t)ey

The phrase "suer s(d+t)ey" is also included in "good evening."

If you want to ask someone, "How are you?"

Sok Sa (B+P)ai (D+T)ae?

*Adding the word, (d+t)ae, at the end of a sentence, in Khmer, often changes the sentence to a question.

And If it just so happens that you are doing well, you can reply, saying:

Sok Sa (B+P)ai

*The phrase "sok sa (b+p)ai" is also commonly used as a greeting. It can mean "hello," but it is a more casual form of greeting someone compared to the phrase "Suer S(d+t)ey."

[If you guys need more help with Khmer sounds, because they are not easy for nonnative speakers, feel free to check out the video below so you can hear what the words sound like.]

Learn Khmer Video: Part 1: Greetings & Sounds


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      áž” for a "pure B" sound.

    • joteo profile image

      Joseph Teo 

      5 years ago from Siem Reap, Cambodia

      I have visited a number of videos teaching the khmai language, I must say your videos especially on the blended sounds in the language distinguishes itself, my thanks

    • profile image

      steve choo 

      5 years ago

      Thanks, Lilly. You are a great teacher. I visited Phnom Penh from April 30 to May 3, 2013. Fascinated with the Khmer language. Have checked out many other youtube videos to learn the language and found yours to be most suitable for me, although others are useful in various ways. Am going to Phnom Penh again on May 25 and am looking forward to testing out what I have learned from you and others. Time permitting, could you upload more videos on the Khmer language for enthusiasts to learn? Thank you very much, Teacher.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I am learning Khmer and I find it more difficult to write than to speak. I have written some Hubs on Khmer food and Cambodia Srok Khmer. It really is a great language and culture and is interesting to learn. Nice to meet a Khmerican on HubPages! My wife is from Cambodia and I hope to visit Angkor Watt someday. Nice Hub! Voted up and shared! Welcome to HubPages! I think you will love the community here!


    • Mistyvermin969 profile image


      6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Great hub!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)