Motives at the Beng Mealea Temple
Motives at the Beng Mealea Temple

Languages in Cambodia

The Cambodian language is Khmer which has been influenced considerably by Pali and Sangkrit from India. Also, the Khmer language is influenced by spoken and written Thai. Some technical terms are borrowed from French. Khmer is different from those in the neighboring countries that it is not a tonal language. Khmer is very similar to that in the neighboring countries that it can be very precise in expressing matters related to agriculture, nature, sentiment while not very conveniently expressing scientific definitions.

The Khmer writing system with script dated back to the 7th century comes from Indian Brahmi script. The writing language was imported along with Buddism from India. Khmer language has 33 consonants and about 24 vowels which are combined in a very strange way.The Khmer grammar though is simple with no tense. Adding words to a sentence makes the tense go to past, present or furture. There is no single or plural, no gender indication either.

In the colonial days, French was taught in schools and many elderly now can still speak the language. Nowadays many people in Cambodia learn English as a second language. English is spoken in most tourist attractions, hotels and restaurants and communication by English is more difficult in rural areas.