Khmer Language: Counting and Amounts the Cambodian Way..


Cambodian Culture, Khmer Language / Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I’ve been amiss writing posts about learning the Khmer language. Truth is, I haven’t progressed that much but I can now (though I’m hardly an expert yet) get a ride on a motodup, bargain in wet markets..

Cambodian numbers

I’ve been trying hard to learn some basic Khmer so I could get around and I decided to share this to everyone. So learn with me 🙂 Aside from the basic greetings and form of addresses (see my previous post – Basic Khmer Language for the Traveler) , I believe its a must for any expat living here in Cambodia to learn about the numbers, amounts and their counting system. Why?

  • Majority of the streets in Phnom Penh are in numbers. So if you want to be more mobile or you want to easily learn your way around, then first learn the numbers. Check out Canby Publications map and you’ll get what I mean.
  • Yes, there are plenty of supermarkets now where prices of goods are tagged in dollars and you don’t need to haggle but all markets and some restaurants quote their prices in Khmer. I’m sure you don’t want to miss the opportunity to haggle and score bargains.

** Note that these are just approximate ‘English’ translations so we can get the closest sounds to Khmer words. These are less than perfect so to improve pronunciation and to get ourselves easily understood, its best to listen well to Khmer native speakers and practice..

  • 1  –   muuy
  • 2  –   pii
  • 3  –   bai
  • 4  –   buhn
  • 5  –   phrum
  • 6  –   phrum muuy
  • 7  –   phrum pii
  • 8  –   phrum bai
  • 9  –   phrum buhn
  • 10 – dop
  • 11 – dop muuy
  • 15 – dop phrum
  • 16 – dop phrum muuy
  • 20 – m’pai
  • 21 – mpai muuy
  • 30 – saam-suhp
  • 40 – sai-suhp
  • 50 – haa-suhp
  • 60 – hok-suhp
  • 70 – jeut-suhp
  • 80 – paet-suhp
  • 90 – kau-suhp
  • 100 – muuy roy (* hundreds use ‘roy‘)
  • 101 – muuy roy muuy
  • 200 – pii roy
  • 1000 – muy puan (thousands use ‘puan‘)
  • 1,000,000 – muuy lian (millions use ‘lian‘)

Tips:

  • Cambodians count in increments of five. After you reach the number 5 (phrum), you just then add one to five (phrum muy for 6) and so on. When you reach 10 (dop) , the cycle begins again by adding one (dop muy for 11).
  • You will also often encounter some Khmers who reverses the orders of the numbers especially for numbers between 10-20 and they usually insert dun between the numbers. Example, for 12 – instead of saying dop pii, they usually say pii dun dop.
  • Khmers usually also use shortcuts like instead of saying ‘muuy roy‘ for 1,000 they would say ‘ma’puan‘..
  • The trick is to listen well. If you simply don’t get it, you can ask them to speak slowly, say ‘Sohm, niyeay yeut yeut..’

9 Replies to “Khmer Language: Counting and Amounts the Cambodian Way..”

  1. This is very interesting. I didn’t realize that their written symbols (alphabet?) was so ornate. Is it related to Vietnamese or Thai?  I don’t really know those either, although I’ve seen VNese, and I don’t remember it being so “curly.”

    1. It looks a bit like Thai alphabet even their enunciation could sometimes sound similar. You’re right its really ornate, especially their vowels and consonants, its particularly hard to learn how to read and write so for now I’m settling for just speaking.

  2. Our alphabet and like most of our culture were adopt from India.. our writing system is an adaptation of the Sanksrit  languange of ancient India….The reason the Thai alphabet look a lot like our Khmer alphabet is the Thai adopt it from us( one of the many )..look at the number on both country…1-10 it is the same..
    Khmer writing first surface dating back to the 5th A.D maybe even earlier..the Thai writing system was invent in 1283 AD….I”m not trying to be a racist here!  just stating some facts…hope you have fun living in Cambodia.. 🙂
     
    cheer
    daRa
     
     
     

  3. Khmer script is identical to Khom script which was invented in Thailand before 1283 AD. Since Thai script has been invented 1283 AD, Khom script is only used in Thailand for writing religious texts in temples until now. But Cambodia and Thailand are both nice countries with a similar culture.

  4. […] CLick here to link to a site that teaches numbers.  For a quick lesson from a foreigner on how to count in […]

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