Talk:Khmer alphabet

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Title change...[edit]

Does anyone disagree with me moving this page to Khmer script? Khmer isn't really an alphabet, so I feel the term 'script' better suits it. Plus, all the stuff about the different styles will fit better with Khmer script as the title.

--Dara 05:55, July 11, 2005 (UTC)

Religious Use[edit]

Anyone know anything about the use of Khmer writing in amulets and protective tatoos in SE Asia? Khmer (called Khom script) is apparently used for this purpose by Thais and others, but I haven't found any particular resources on it. -- Clay Collier 03:20, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

kakâbat (កាកបាទ) - rising tone?[edit]

I wouldn't compare the Khmer កាកបាទ [kaːʔkəbaːt] to the Thai ไม้จัตวา [máːi jàttàwaː] (fourth tone). Khmer is not a tone language. This diacritic indicates rising or high intonation in certain exclamations or particles, and it's function can't be compared to a Thai tone marker. The sign was probably borrowed from Thai, but it has a different function in Khmer. I've removed that comparison. — Babelfisch 01:16, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

Its called registers, while not generally a tone, its more of a distinguish pitched, khmer may not be a tonal language, but it hears sing song. As for the kakabat sign, its main function is for distinguish accents, whilst not borrowed from thai but adapted by thais. --leaki

I see nothing but squares![edit]

everywhere!--Dangerous-Boy 21:54, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

This page uses Khmer Unicode fonts. The fonts must be installed on your computer to view the page correctly. There are some links in the External Links section that explain Khmer fonts and offer free downloads of the fonts and related software. A word of caution, however: Khmer Unicode is still under development and even when installed correctly, the appearance of certain characters are very erratic and unpredictable and some are still just plain wrong. Your choice of browser and OS will also affect the appearance of the Khmer characters. Good Luck!--WilliamThweatt 22:04, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
You need to install KM Unicode for windows if you want to view the Khmer script properly. -- (talk) 09:03, 17 January 2008 (UTC)


I'm going to be bold and make some drastic changes. I'm going to remove a lot of stuff that I feel is unnecessary (such as the sorting order) and statements which have no citation (it is better to leave them out for now, they can always be added later if anyone ever wants to cite them). And it seems after user Hintha came around, the tables messed up and some transliteration for the dependent vowels are incorrect (this article uses transliteration from the transliteration table in PDF format that you may find in the links section) --Hecktor 13:53, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

I fixed the tables a bit and deleted some stuff and add a few words, but this article still needs a lot of improvement, I feel. --Hecktor 15:16, 16 August 2006 (UTC)


Does anyone know anything about this letter: ឨ? In Unicode, it says Khmer Independent Vowel Quk. But I have never seen it before. --Hecktor 23:14, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

I can not recall right now where I heard this from, but I remember learning (maybe it was from a monk at the Cambodian Buddhist Society on 47th St. in San Diego, Ca) that this vowel is used in Pali texts, "good luck charms" (tatoos, ksae changkeh, etc) and moen ("magical" drawings seen over the entrance doors to Cambodian houses and temples). It was used historically to write words of Sanskrit/Pali origin but has long since become obsolete, being replaced by the equivelant dependent vowel.--WilliamThweatt 18:11, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Romanization of Khmer[edit]

What standard of romanization is followed by this page, and is there a standard for it? I'd like to adopted some baseline for Wikitravel's Cambodia articles. Jpatokal 09:26, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Khmer script disappearance on Wikipedia[edit]

Hello all,

I would like to know why the Khmer script is not visible on Wikipedia anymore. Can anybody help me on this? Regards.

Wiki Raja 01:17, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

Cambodian Coda Consonants[edit]

I miss a brief section about the syllable-final consonants, especially those that are pronounced differently than their onset counterparts... such as "r", which I think is pronounced like /j/ (or not at all?) at the end of a word. Also, it would be interesting if they are written in the romanization (what standard is this, by the way?). — N-true 21:28, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

Final "R"s are unpronounced otherwise in other positions, they are probably Alveolar tap (at least that what it sounds like to me). There is no standard for romanization yet. See: Khmer romanization --Dara 21:23, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Size of letters[edit]

The Khmer letters are showing up ridiculously/ludicrously/unreasonably small in this and all other articles in which they appear. Can this be fixed? Badagnani 06:46, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Although a late reply, under Firefox the Khmer script should display fine, but if you're using Internet Explorer 7, then you might want to take a look at this page. Hope this helps anyone else with this problem. - Io Katai (talk) 22:52, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
Unfortunately this is not a problem of IE7. It looks tiny for me as well, and I use Mozilla Firefox. One cannot even make out it's Khmer at this size. Could it be a font problem? — N-true (talk) 03:02, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Hm, at least for me Firefox displays properly. Try going into Tools > Options, then select the "Content" tab. Under the "Font and Colors" section, click the "Advanced" button. Where it says "Fonts for: (western)", find the one that says "Khmer" in the dropdown list. Play around with the settings & font sizes, but I'd recommend using Khmer OS at size ~14. Tell me if this helps or not. - Io Katai (talk) 03:10, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
This is a problem caused by Windows Vista, where the default for Khmer script has been set to be this small. Khmer OS has a download which is meant to improve this. [1] I have to say, though, I think that this is something which Microsoft needs to deal with, as they are the ones who have set the font to be this small: it is unreasonable to expect those who read this article to be interested in downloading additional software or altering their computer's options, just to view a single article. V85 (talk) 13:56, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
No, it's by far a problem not restricted to Windows Vista; it can occur on any operating system and in any web browser (Windows XP is also known to do this), since Khmer among others is not part of their default Unicode fonts. And like I mentioned, it does not require users to download any additional fonts or fixes. You can simply go into your web browser's font options, and make the Khmer script larger by changing the default script and font size. - Io Katai (talk) 18:08, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
I am using Windows 7 and the Google Chrome browser and I also see the ridiculously small text. I just figured I would say this, in case it's useful to know that those using Chrome and Windows 7 are also having the same issues. I use Asian text on my computer (I speak Mandarin Chinese, Korean and Japanese, along with a few other languages, so I need to be able to read and write with Asian text on my computers), and most Asian text is perfectly readable on all of my computers, so this is the first time I've ever had an issue like this. Anyways, I don't know it it's useful or not of me to let anyone know that I am having the same problem or not, but I figured I would just say it just in case. (talk) 16:56, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Khmer mul.jpg[edit]

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Image:Khmer mul.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to insure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images uploaded after 4 May, 2006, and lacking such an explanation will be deleted one week after they have been uploaded, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.

BetacommandBot 06:45, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Handwriting photo[edit]

Can someone please scan a sample of actual handwriting by a Khmer person? (talk) 00:59, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

Writing direction[edit]

Good, a lot of information. Now, is it written from left to right or from right to left? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:57, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

Like the majority (if not all) of Brahmic scripts, the Khmer script is written from left to right (and top-to-bottom line shifting). In other words, the direction is the same as what you're writing right now. - Io Katai (talk) 23:15, 23 May 2009 (UTC)


Just noting that there's no citation for the transliteration system but that it appears to come from the "romanization" pdf listed under external sources. This document outlines and explains the UN geographic conventions for romanization of Khmer place names. There's something of a problem in using this system in the English version of Wikipedia in that it was a system aimed at romanization, not transliteration into the Roman alphabet as used in English. Looking at a lot of the vowel transliterations in that document and here, I'd guess they were aiming at converting Khmer names into the Roman alphabet as used in French. To cut a long story short - this is not really a system that can be used for aurally comprehensible translations from Khmer into English without some kind of further explanation of how each vowel is supposed to sound. To offer one small example, the second series value of the vowel ា​ is shown here as éa. I'd read that as something like "ay-ah" but I usually hear it as more like "ee-a" or "ia". Might it be worth either changing the transliteration system shown here, or offering an examples table? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:27, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

The UNGEGN romanization is pretty much the only well-suited romanization system around, even if it doesn't 100% accurately portray neither the native, nor the English pronunciation of the word. There's a reason why there's always a dedicated section for the IPA, since this is what you should refer to for pronunciation. Wikipedia has outright gotten rid of badly written attempts for pronunciation, for example writing out "K-MAY" for "khmer"; the reason is that in English, there are hundreds of dialects, with various different sequences using "AY" (ay, may, yay...), each of them pronouncing words and sequences differently, so it's really easy to misinterpret how it's suppose to be pronounced, and very unprofessional to use unless you're writing a traveller's book (in which case, you're at the wrong site: Additionally, there exists pretty much no other system that reflects the English pronunciation of the Khmer words/letters while remaining an easy and loyal writing system that can be used in a systematic way (the main purpose of a transliteration system).
This isn't only done for Khmer though, every single language that doesn't already use the latin alphabet is romanized/transliterated according to their own conventions. Some languages like Japanese are straightforward, others like Chinese or Khmer are more complex. Likewise, every language written in the latin alphabet pronounces each letter differently, the letter "u" alone ranges anywhere in /y ɨ ʉ ɯ u ɤ o ʏ ʊ ʌ ɔ ə w.../ depending on the language. If we start changing everything to be more pseudo-English-like, it would be more uselessly confusing than anything.
So in summary, the transliteration/romanization is a keeper; the only other significantly different system is the ALA-LC Romanization, but this one is much more divergent when it comes to representing the original Khmer sounds. If you're seeking pronunciation help, the IPA section is there to help. - Io Katai (talk) 22:35, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
I was the editor that select the UNGEGN romanization system. If there's a better one to use, please let me know. I can change it to an ad-hoc style, but I wanted to keep the romanization uniform. It's too bad the Cambodian government hasn't decided on a standard romanization system (and if they ever do, I hope they pick a good one). --Dara (talk) 20:47, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

Help me with the fonts[edit]

I am having font troubles with Khmer. I installed fonts (Khmer OS) and went to Internet Setting and selected fonts and selected Khmer OS yet rather than fixing the font problem, the Khmer script disappeared!Kanzler31 (talk) 21:07, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

OK I think I found the problem. It's not my computer, It's my browser! Internet explorer displays Khmer perfectly, while Safari does not display it at all. Is there any way to make Khmer appear on Safari?Kanzler31 (talk) 18:21, 25 September 2010 (UTC)


I removed this from the consonants section: In Khmer phonology, final stops are unreleased and possible finals are limited, word-final values may differ. For example, word-final /s/ is pronounced [h] and, in most dialects, word-final /r/ is silent. The inherent vowels of consonants in the final position are almost never pronounced.

It has useful information, but it's hard to work back into that section without getting too detailed into phonology... --Dara (talk) 06:32, 26 May 2011 (UTC)


I am not very familiar with Khmer, but according to Franklin Huffman's Cambodian System of Writing and Beginning Reader with Drills and Glossary, the niggahita (rendered as a small circle above the consonant) isn't just used in Sanskrit loanwords to indicate the nasal, it is also used to indicate word final -m in Khmer words. One example would be ខ្ញុំ khnom (the first person pronoun). V85 (talk) 16:51, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Suggested changes organization, pronunciation, collation[edit]

Very nice article, both complete, accurate and well written. I have a couple of suggestions, but I wanted to run them by the other editors before I just made the changes/additions, though they're not extensive:

  • Perhaps mention should be made of the order in which words appear in the dictionary. (collation) Since the order the characters are given already appears to be in the order in which they would appear in a dictionary, just a couple of words about it would be sufficient.
  • The Khmer alphabet, like the other brahmic derivatives, is traditionally organized by articulation, e.i. velars, palatals, etc. This makes the script much easier to learn and it is also how words are ordered in a dictionary. (see above) Some mention of this might be helpful, as might expanding the main consonant table and splitting it into sections, something along the lines of:
Group Symbol Name
Group Symbol Name
PALATALS etc etc
etc etc
  • Due to the history of the script and the khmer language, the retroflex series (ដ, ឋ, ឌ, ឍ, ណ) are not really retroflexes but voiced dentals ដ, ឌ, or aspirated unvoiced dentals with identical pronunciation as the corresponding characters in the dental series.

vr rm 23:04, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

I think both of these are doable. Having a section on collation would be useful, especially when it comes to vowels that are written in front of the consonant. When it comes to the Indian origin of the script, and sorting the letters according to the classical table, I don't know if that is frequently done for Khmer (though it is frequently done for Burmese script). My initial thought is that such a presentation of the script should be secondary to the presentation that we already have (possibly in an 'origins' or 'history' section, or a section on how Khmer script is used to write Sanskrit/Pali). V85 (talk) 06:48, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

About the Khmer alphabet[edit]

When, at the beginning of the Olympic Games for 2012, at the opening ceremony, the Cambodian team marched in, it was announced that their language of Khmer has the longest alphabet of all alphabets, having seventy letters. If this information is accurate, it is so impressive that it should be mentioned at the start of the article. ACEOREVIVED (talk) 15:46, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

There was a recent question similar to this at the Language Reference Desk that might be of interest. An archive of the discussion can be found under the last subheading here: Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2012 July 18.--William Thweatt TalkContribs 17:04, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Definitely it would be nearly impossible to establish a single 'longest alphabet', such basic things as the definition of 'alpha-beta' character' would first have to be agreed upon, and of course any proclamation would undoubtedly inject feelings of national identity into the debate. Yet, the Khmer alphabet is indeed very large. If one takes for example the keyboard needed to type it -- even though Khmer doesn't distinguish between upper and lower case -- all the normal 'letter key' of an ISO keyboard, plus their corresponding <shift> character and the shift characters over all the numbers are needed to type Khmer. (And even that is not quite enough rarely .characters'), which considerably more than the number needed to type Devanagari and over three times as many needed to type English words, not counting upper and lower case. Note that the above doesn't even count the fact that every consonant can receive a vowel which modifies the consonant's inherent vowel and yields a unique character, nor the fact that consonants also have a subscript form when stacked one-upon-the-other. These permutations would certainly being the number for forms far into the thousands of unique ligatures. But, fortunately for those typing in Khmer modern computer systems handle the composition of most of these automatically. Perhaps some mention could be made of this characteristic of the script without the need to qualify it in absolute terms such as 'longest alphabet' or 'most complex script'. vr rm 21:54, 5 August 2012 (UTC)

Scary message at the bottom[edit]

There's a scary message in Khmer at the bottom :( — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:48, 21 May 2013 (UTC)

Descendant scripts?[edit]

The Lao and Thai scripts are both apparently descended / evolved from Khmer, but the article doesn't seem to talk about that. It would be useful to see a section, with at least a paragraph or two, about scripts descended from this one. — OwenBlacker (Talk) 16:23, 12 November 2014 (UTC)

I added a sentence in the lead. There ought to be a "History" section in the article, covering the history of this script in more detail than the lead currently does, and descendant scripts could also be mentioned there (although the main information about their origins would remain in their own articles). I don't feel capable of writing any of this, however. W. P. Uzer (talk) 08:33, 15 November 2014 (UTC)
I've tried looking into the matter before. From what I could find, most Cambodian and English sources do not go into much detail. There is a French graph that shows the evolution but of Southeast Asian scripts but don't explain much about how they changed. I have an inclination that it is more complex that what we may generally think because most Cambodian and English sources do not mention Lanna script which show a lot of similarities with Khmer but Thai sources claim Lanna is based on old Mon script. Some Lao sources also claim Lao script is related to old Mon script. --Dara (talk) 21:42, 26 December 2014 (UTC)