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..
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‘)
- 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..’