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Background on the Current Problems of the Khmer Language

A Language in Crisis

Commentary in The Phnom Penh Post by Theary C. Seng
, 16 Aug. 2011

The Cambodian language is dying: the spoken language is either crude and earthy (to the point of offensiveness) or highly stylized (to the point of incomprehension); the written language is in crisis from carelessness and lack of development, mummified from antiquity, rattled by modernity.


And no one is doing anything about it.

[...] If used at all, the comma is inserted with great reluctance or inconfidence because its function is not widely understood.

Read the full commentary...

. . .

Language and National Identity: Cambodia

Chapter by Dr. Stephen Heder
, Oxford University Press


In KI-Media


* * *

Use of COMMAS (,) in many languages (including Khmer):

Mainly, to avoid confusion. Commas are used for clarity, because that is the goal of communication!),

Use commas to separate words and word groups with a series of three or more.


(For further guidance from English usage...)


Khmer Grammar -- Punctuation

Thank you, Dr. Phalkun Tan, for this gem of a resource!


Examples of use of commas in established Khmer dictionaries:


Dictionary by Preah Sang Chuon Nath, 1967

Use of commas by Preah Sang Chuon Nath, a page from 1967 dictionary above

The introduction to the dictionary by Venerable Chuon Nath where he employed many punctuations, including the commas and semi-colons, many of which are not used in current Khmer writing -- to the poverty and detriment of the Khmer language and education/knowledge of the Khmer people.

Click here to read the complete introduction.


Excerpt from the Law Dictionary (pictured at top), 1st Edition, 1997


The Catholic University of America Press, Inc. Copyright 1977

Example from 1977 Khmer-English dictionary above, compiled by both Khmer and non-Khmer expert linguists.


Dictionary of Synonyms published by the National Language Institute, 2007

Use of commas by the 2007 dictionary above.











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