Khmer Language

16M Khmer Speakers

The speaker must always pay attention to the hierarchical status of the person being spoken to. Pronouns and verbs change depending on a person’s status.

Khmer is the official language of Cambodia but it is also spoken in Vietnam and Thailand. There are about 16 million Khmer speakers in Cambodia and around 1.2 million speakers in Vietnam. In Thailand, a variety of Khmer known as Northern Khmer is spoken by some 1.4 million people. Even though the original roots of the language are from Pali and Sanskrit, later, Khmer was influenced by spoken and written Thai. During the 19th century, it was also influenced by the French language.

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The complexity of Khmer translation

1. The written language > Translation Service

  • Vowels: The language contains 23 dependent vowels and 12 independent vowels. Their location can be before, after, above or below the consonant and sometimes a combination of all those. Additionally, it includes independent vowels that can stand alone without a preceding or trailing consonant. The independent vowels can be used as monosyllabic words, or as the initial syllables in longer words. The pronunciation of the vowels depends on the consonant they are attached to.
  • Consonants: The script was adapted from the Pallava script. There are 35 consonants, although modern Khmer uses 33. Two were taken out because they became obsolete.
  • Syllables and writing structure: Most of the syllables begin with a single consonant. If there are two consonants, they will come in a cluster, and sometimes there are clusters of three consonants. In the writing structure of the language, there are no spaces between words, instead, spaces are used to indicate that this is the end of a clause or a sentence.
  • Verbs: The verbs do not change with tense or aspect. Moods can be expressed using auxiliary verbs, particles and adverbs. Such are yesterday, earlier, tomorrow, or maybe understood from the context.
Khmer Language Map

2. The spoken language > Media Service

  • Stress: In the Khmer language, the stress falls on the final syllable of a word and because of this predictable pattern, stress is non-phonemic. This means that it is not used to distinguish different meanings.
  • Social status and honorifics: The speaker must be aware of the social status of the person he converses with. The different social statuses and honorifics include common speech, polite speech, speaking to royals or monks. They employ alternate verbs, names of body parts and pronouns to differ between the groups.

Moreover, Khmer is divided into three groups based on its historical evolvement ─ Old Khmer, Middle Khmer, and Modern Khmer. It is very important for a professional translator, for example, performing and English to Khmer translation to know the basic background for each specific evolution period of the language to avoid mistakes in the translations.

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1-StopAsia’s solution for you

Native translators with local knowledge

At 1-StopAsia, we have managed to keep a close connection to quality Khmer translators, which are available to help you any time you have a Khmer translation. Due to the specifics of the language, feel free to talk to our Project Managers in advance, before taking such a project. With their experience, they will guide you through the process and together you will minimize errors and make the delivery on time. As with other languages, we have incorporated an additional Quality Assurance team, which monitors the whole process and improves our process all the time. This well-structured process is aimed at enhancing our performance and delivering a satisfactory final result.

20 years of experience

For over 2 decades working in the translation business, we’ve cultivated an in-depth understanding of the industry and most importantly we’ve built a flexible and efficient project management system. Our Project Managers are always there to handle your inquiries, save you time and deliver the translations within the allotted time for each assignment.