This month’s Language Spotlight focuses on Khmer. We’ve been getting more requests for this language lately, and we thought it would be an interesting language to explore in more detail.

Khmer is the official language of Cambodia. It is the second most widely spoken Austroasiatic language spoken after Vietnamese. Khmer is spoken in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, the United States, France and Australia. There are a total of about 8 million Khmer speakers worldwide, and in the United States, there are an estimated 190,000 Khmer speakers. The Khmer language is written in Khmer script, using the Khmer alphabet, which closely resembles the Thai and Lao alphabets. There are also influences from Sanskrit, Pali, French and Chinese in the Khmer language. The Khmer script has symbols for 33 consonants, 24 dependent vowels, 12 independent vowels and several diacritic symbols. Many words have more than one accepted spelling. There are no spaces between words in the written language, only at the end of sentences or phrases.

The history of modern Cambodia is a tumultuous one. In 1887 Cambodia became part of French Indochina, but following Japanese occupation during WWII, Cambodia gained full independence from France in 1953. In 1975, Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh and at least 1.5 million Cambodians died of execution, forced hardships or starvation under the new regime headed by Pol Pot. In 1978, the Vietnamese invaded and drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside. This began a 10-year Vietnamese occupation, and touched off 13 years of civil war. The 1991 Paris Peace Accords sought to establish democratic elections and a ceasefire, but it was not until 1999 that Khmer Rouge forces surrendered. Today, Cambodia’s government is a multiparty democracy under a constitutional monarchy, and national elections are generally peaceful.

Cambodia’s two main economic forces are textiles and tourism. This beautiful, lush country is rich with stunning ancient temple ruins, picturesque villages, seaside resorts, architecturally dazzling cities and gorgeous natural beauty. Tourism is growing, and many foreigners have made Cambodia an exciting and unusual travel destination.

Avantpage’s Khmer translation experts are fully equipped to provide clients with high-quality, expert translation for a variety of needs – healthcare, government, financial and more.

For information about Khmer/Cambodian translation, click here.