Khmer language

language spoken in Cambodia

Khmer is the official language of Kampuchea/Cambodia. Its script was the base for the Thai script, although Thai does not use subscript consonants. One thing that makes it particularly difficult for many foreigners to learn is that Khmer words are not separated in a sentence and the sounds are quite hard for foreigners to replicate. But still each word in the sentence can be distinguished. Also, there is not much material on Khmer, although this situation is changing.

Pronunciationpʰiːəsaː kʰmaːe
Native toCambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, USA, France, Australia
Native speakers
16 million (2007)[1]
1 million L2 speakers[2]
Khmer script (abugida)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1km
ISO 639-2khm
ISO 639-3Either:
khm – Central Khmer
kxm – Northern Khmer


The Khmer script is based on an ancient Indian alphabet. It is written from left to right. There are 35 consonants, some of which are written under other consonants. Vowels are combined with the consonants.


The language has a subject-verb-object order. Pronouns change based on who you are speaking to.



"I don't want it"


"Do you want to go to Siem Reap?"


  1. Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
  2. Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Entry for Khmer