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Learning Cambodian (Khmer)

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Bhat Yes(male)
Jah Yes(female)
Ot/Ot-Te Both mean no
Nyam Eat or drink
Tuk Water
Mo-ho Food
Jong Want
Bong Older person(this should be used often)
Poo Uncle or really older male
Oun Younger person
Niet You(can be used to get some people’s attention)
Niet Luu-ah Seller(good to get the attention of a vender or waiter)
Nung Will (indicates future)
Pon Mon How much?
T’lai NA! Expensive!
Howie Already (indicates past)
Kh-my Khmer(Cambodian language)
Joy Fuck (In every sense of the word)
Nyom Jahng Tao I want to go
Nyom Nung Nyam Kn-yom I will to eat cake

Khmer grammar is all about word order. Thankfully you don’t have to Change any word endings. For the future tense, simply add Nung (will) and for the past Howie(already). Words are NOT tonal like Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai. Khmer is a very easy language to learn. Beyond this people rarely use prepositions except when talking about items they currently have. This makes it easier but also more confusing.

For example people will say “Jong(want) Tuk(water) Ot-te(Question word)”

What they mean is “do you want water”. You can reply “Bhat(yes male)/Jah(yes female)” or “Jong(want).”

*Warning* If you are learning Khmer in a class you MUST tell your teacher to teach you spoken Khmer not formal or written Khmer! Forty years of civil war along with Pol Pots executions removed the intellectuals from Cambodia. Because of this NO ONE speaks former Khmer. Really no one except on very special occasions.


Hey, I’m Eric, www.YourWorldYourHome.com is my travel blog. I write this website to show you how easy it is to live, work and travel all around the world. I’ve been traveling almost 8 years now. I’m just about to publish my new book Where the Wind Blows: Traveling around the World on $5 a day

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